Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


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Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


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Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


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Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

  ·  15 min

Best National Park Hikes In the Four Corners States

Hiking is a great activity for all fitness levels, and there are few places more beautiful to hike than the four corners area. The four corners area (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) is a remarkable section of the United States. The landscape is diverse and awe-inspiring. From the unmatched sunsets, red rocks, and ancient, towering saguaro cacti of Arizona to the alpine lakes and majestic mountains of Colorado, you’re in for a real treat when you plan a trip to these states.  One of the best ways to experience the beautiful natural landscape of these four states is by hiking. And there’s no better place to hike than at some of the most spectacular national parks. Utah alone has five incredible national parks and the other three states and their national parks are not slouches either.  Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon or reaching a high altitude at Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll get your heart pumping and your body moving while experiencing some of the best landscapes this country has to offer. So lace up your hiking boots, start playing your favorite hiking music, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!  Tips For Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)These Rocky Mountain National Park hikes are at high elevation and are particularly challenging if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water, bring snacks, and hike at a pace you’re comfortable with. Parking at Rocky Mountain National Park The Bear Lake hike will begin from the Bear Lake parking lot. The Bear Lake parking lot is often full but there is a lot of turnover, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait long if at all for a spot to open up.  Alternatively you can park farther away at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. This can be a pain though, particularly at the end of your hike when you’ll likely have to wait in a long line to catch the shuttle back.  The hike to Mills Lake will begin from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. This parking lot is not particularly large however. In the event the parking lot is full, you can instead park at the much larger Bear Lake parking lot and begin the hike from there. This only adds .1 mile onto the hike.  There is also an abundance of chipmunks in the park who unfortunately, due to being fed too often by humans, are all too comfortable with climbing into your lap or onto your backpack to try to snag some of your snacks. Do your best to keep your snacks safely tucked away when you’re not eating, and let the wild animals be wild! Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake HiyahaRocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning Alpine Lakes, and this Bear Lake Trailhead gives you five for the price of one. This hike is perfect for hikers of all different levels and capabilities.  Bear Lake (which is the closest lake to the parking lot) is a .5-mile loop around the lake, and is the most highly trafficked section of the hike. If you’re not keen on battling the crowds so early in your hike, head in the direction of the other lakes first and make a quick pit stop at Bear Lake to finish up your hike.  Just .5 miles into your hike you’ll come across Nymph Lake, scattered with lily pads like something out of a fairytale. Another .6 miles will take you to Dream Lake, a popular stop for pictures against the mountainous backdrop.  Hike an additional .7 miles to Emerald Lake, the final destination for many hikers. Emerald Lake is no less stunning than its neighbors. If you choose to hike all the way to Emerald Lake you’ll gain 605 feet of elevation from your 9,475 foot start at Bear Lake.  While Bear Lake to Emerald Lake makes for the perfect out and back hike, you’d be missing an absolute gem by not stopping at Lake Haiyaha. The trail to Lake Haiyaha is much less crowded than the Bear Lake to Emerald Lake trail, perhaps because the trail begins with a somewhat daunting uphill climb.  I can tell you it’s worth making your lungs work overtime for the spectacular views from up above and the idyllic peacefulness of the lake. From Emerald Lake you’ll backtrack to Dream Lake and take the trail branching off to the right. This will take you the 2.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha.  Bring a snack, find a nice flat boulder, and marvel at the beauty of the nature around you. When you’ve thoroughly soaked in your surroundings, you’ll head back to Dream Lake and continue back towards Bear Lake and the parking lot.  Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and Mills LakeThis hike takes you to both a waterfall and a lake giving you a chance to sample the best of both worlds. Alberta Falls is just .8 miles from the trailhead. If you’re looking for a quick hike just to stretch your legs or are not up for the sometimes strenuous climb up to Mills Lake, this can be a good turnaround point.  If you’re up for it, I suggest continuing on to Mills Lake. If it’s even possible, the trail itself is perhaps even more beautiful than the Emerald Lake hike described above. Flowing streams, dazzling viewpoints of majestic mountains and lush forests, and changing leaves in the fall all contribute to the beauty of the hike.  If you decide to continue to Mills Lake you might consider bringing a lunch or snack to enjoy at the falls before hiking the additional 2 miles uphill to the lake. The lake is certainly the highlight of the hike. On a calm, windless day you might even be lucky enough to see the striking landscape of mountains and trees reflected in the water.  The hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely downhill until the very end when you’ll have to grind out one final uphill climb to the parking lot. Though the hike back down is considerably faster, take some time to admire the scenery around you and snap a few photos. You’ll find the views never get old.  Hiking Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)I’m sure it comes to you as no surprise that the Grand Canyon can get hot. It’s in Arizona, after all, where temperatures are notoriously toasty. So bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, and salty foods. The last thing you want to happen is to become dehydrated down in the canyon.  You’ll find signs throughout these hikes reminding you that hiking down is optional, but hiking up is mandatory. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind.  Unlike most out and back hikes that begin uphill and end downhill, hiking the Grand Canyon is the opposite. You may think you have plenty of energy as you cheerfully descend into the canyon, but the real challenge is hiking back out when your quad muscles are already shaking from the steep descent.   You’ll also want to begin your hikes early in the morning, preferably while it’s still dark outside. Not only is watching the sun rise over the canyon particularly spectacular, you’ll avoid hiking at the hottest time of the day which you’ll be very thankful for.  I also suggest bringing hiking poles. You’d be surprised how much they help as you hike back out of the canyon. Even just making your job 10% easier is huge.  Bright Angel Trail to Indian GardensThe Bright Angel Trail is one of the Grand Canyon’s most popular hikes and for good reason. Though the view doesn’t change drastically as you descend into the canyon, it’s one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see. It’s a truly magical moment watching the sunrise over the canyon as it lights up the beauty before you and casts dramatic shadows across the landscape.  Beyond the views, this trail is incredibly well maintained, and park rangers are constantly on the move up and down the trail making sure the path is up to snuff. The trail is also divided into 1.5-mile sections with rest houses and bathrooms at the end of each section. This allows hikers of varying skill levels to complete at least some section of the trail, and provides hikers descending deeper into the canyon with much needed stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail begins to the west of Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village. Because the trail is so popular, parking nearby can be a bit of a challenge. If the Bright Angel Lodge lot is full you can parallel park near the railroad tracks by the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the trailhead from there.  As you might expect, the first 1.5 miles of the trail are the most heavily trafficked. The views from this section are quite impressive and it gives less seasoned hikers a chance to get some dirt on their boots and experience a taste of the Bright Angel Trail. You’ll find the first rest stop, bathrooms and water at the 1.5-mile marker. Yes, there is an opportunity to fill up your water bottles at each rest stop, but be sure you bring enough water to last you the whole hike in case the pipes burst or other complications prevent the water spigot from working.  You’ll continue switchbacking your way down the canyon from here. As you pass the 3-mile maker you’ll notice the crowds thinning considerably. From here your end target will be Indian Garden, 4.5 miles down into the canyon. The landscape at Indian Garden is quite different from the rest of the hike with a rippling stream, Cottonwood trees, and most importantly, shade. This is the best turnaround point for day hikers. Remember you still have 4.5 miles of uphill hiking ahead of you.  You should note that you’ll likely be sharing the path at times with the mule trains. If your paths cross, step off the trail to the side away from the edge and stay still as you wait for the entire mule train to pass.  South Kaibab to Cedar RidgeWhen the hike you’ve chosen has a viewpoint called Ooh-Aah Point, you know you’ve chosen well. You’ll begin the hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead, which you’ll reach by parking at the visitor’s center and taking the free shuttle bus.  The hike to Ooh-Aah Point is only 1.5 miles round trip. Like the Bright Angel Trail, this top section of the hike is the most crowded. Whether Ooh-Aah Point is your turnaround point or you’re hiking deep into the canyon, take a moment to enjoy the views from this appropriately named viewpoint. If possible, try to arrive at Ooh-Aah Point in time for sunrise. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  As the sun lights up the canyon and less experienced hikers head back, continue hiking all the way to Cedar Ridge for a total of 3 miles round trip. 3 miles might not seem like a lot to experienced hikers, but after experiencing the steepness of the canyon, strenuous nature of the trail, and intense summer heat, you’ll understand why Cedar Ridge is the most popular turnaround point for fit day hikers.  For the strongest hikers, it’s possible to hike all the way to Skeleton Point for a view of the river and a total of 6 miles round trip. In the summer however, the park rangers strongly suggest you don’t hike past Cedar Point. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is no water on the South Kaibab Trail so carry in enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout your hike. Again, you’ll likely be sharing this trail with the mule trains.  Hike Arches National Park (Utah) Delicate ArchIf you’ve ever seen a Utah license plate or walked inside a souvenir shop, you’ve seen images of Delicate Arch. This impressive formation has become an iconic symbol of Utah and attracts visitors from far and wide. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderately difficult 3-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. The beginning of the hike is a relatively relaxed stroll. Very early on in the hike you’ll find a spur trail leading to some fascinating rock art. The art is worth the minimal extra mileage and can be seen either at the start or end of your hike.  From there, the trail begins to gradually increase in difficulty, preparing you for the heart pumping section of the hike that is about to make its appearance. When you hit the long and seemingly never ending slanted rock face, you know you’ve hit the cardio portion of the hike. Rock cairns will mark the way as you trudge uphill on an otherwise unmarked path. Following the parade of fellow hikers, panting as they make their way up the mountain is another easy way to know you’re headed in the right direction.  After you make your way up the rock face you’ll wrap your way around the mountain on a relatively narrow edge. Delicate Arch stays hidden from view until the final moment making its reveal particularly spectacular. If your jaw drops, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  As perhaps the most popular hike in the park, this hike is often packed with hikers and photographers looking to catch the famous arch when the light hits just right. 9am is generally when the parking lot starts to fill and the crowds move in. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, plan to begin your hike around 6am.  Sand Sledding in White Sands National Park (New Mexico)Ok, so calling sand sledding a hike is a stretch, but you do have to hike to the top of the dunes in order to sled back down, and I can tell you it’s no easy ordeal. The adrenaline rush and sheer joy you’ll experience sledding down the sand dune however is 100% worth the effort.  First you’ll want to find the perfect sand dune. One that’s tall and steep enough for a thrilling ride but that doesn’t come to an abrupt stop at the bottom that would cause you to get thrown off the disc. You’ll also want to make sure you’re far enough away from plants and shrubs that you won’t slide into them at the bottom of the slope.  Once you’ve found the perfect dune, wax up your sand sledding disc to make it go faster down the dune. Discs are available for purchase at the visitor’s center, though you are free to bring your own from home. Even if you own a sledding disc it might be worth it to purchase one from the park store since their discs seem particularly well designed for sand sledding. Wax is also available for purchase at the park store.  Next, if possible, find a place on the dune where the sand is more tightly packed to hike up. If the sand is loose everywhere you’ll still be able to hike up, but progress will be much slower.  Finally pick a spot on the dune to sled down. Choose wisely as you’ll want to use this same path every time. It will allow for a faster, smoother ride as you carve out a trail.  Perhaps most importantly, bring the speakers and get an upbeat sand sledding playlist going because you’re about to have an absolute blast hiking and sledding for hours on end.  There are a couple of things you should note about the sand before going to the park. The white gypsum sand is amazing to walk on barefoot because it never gets very hot. The sand is highly reflective however so bring a hat and plenty of water because on a hot day, though your feet may be cool, you’ll likely be sweating up a storm.  Best Hiking Music For Your National Park HikesMusic makes you move. And what better way to motivate you up the mountain than by playing your favorite exercise music as the mountain gets steeper or the altitude gets higher. Each of the hikes mentioned have “grind it out” sections where you’ll be thankful for a boost in your motivation levels.  For some parts of the hike, you may want an upbeat, hip hop hiking playlist as you put one foot in front of the other grinding your way out of the Grand Canyon. For others, you’ll want calmer music, perhaps while you’re circling a serene lake or gazing up at petroglyphs. This is where the RockMyRun app comes in.  Imagine an all in one app that stays on beat with your motion. RockMyRun is just that: Hiking music that syncs your music to your heart beat or your steps, creating the ultimate curated playlist to maximize your hiking experience. Now you can hike to classical music as you stroll across a log bridge spanning the width of a shimmering stream, rock out to 80’s classics while you barrel down a sand dune at full speed, and press play on a high energy playlist to keep your legs moving up switchback after switchback in the summer heat. Try it Free Here Now You’re Ready to Pack Your Bags And Hike!There’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air and open space of some of the country's best national parks. We hope this post helped you decide which of these natural landscapes speaks to you (or hike them all!) and head out on your next hiking adventure. It’s always a good day when you can combine exercise with outdoor exploration. Whether you’re sinking your toes in white gypsum sand or joining the chipmunks in seeking out Colorado’s best mountain views, you’re sure to have an exhilarating experience at any of these four national parks.  About the Author  Marjani Taylor is a graduate of Stanford University where she won a National Championship as a starting forward on the women’s varsity soccer team. She went on to play professional soccer in Iceland for 4 years where she met her Icelandic husband. Having lived in Iceland, a country with an abundance of unique natural beauty, she’s had the opportunity to hike to towering waterfalls, hot springs, through lava tubes, on glaciers, and down into volcanic craters. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona where her love of hiking has continued to flourish as she explores Sedona’s red rocks, Flagstaff’s forests, Phoenix’s vast deserts, and of course the Grand Canyon. She is also a writer, currently writing for two online publications, Playing for 90 (soccer) and Follow Me Away (travel).


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


Tips for First Time Runners

  ·  6 min

Tips for First Time Runners

Trying something new can often be a daunting experience, and running can be one of the most difficult physical activities to start. Whether you’re already in Olympic shape, or haven’t exercised as much as you’ve been meaning to, we’ve all tried going for it without preparing and ended up half a block away from our starting point panting with our hands on our knees. That’s why we wanted to make it easy. This blog post will help you get started the right way so you can learn to love the sport and even become a tireless trekker of your own. How to get in the right mindframe to runA positive attitude: It’s cliche, but when starting out, you’re not going to be a world class runner or post a five-minute mile. It takes time. When you set out on your first run take it slow, and we mean really slow. If there’s a grandma on the street walking faster than you’re running, that’s okay! You should be starting off slow, it’s the best way to build up. As much as we’d all like to run a 7-minute mile our first time, these things take practice. Only through consistent practice can incremental gains be made. On your first run, wherever you end up, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you’ll run for 10 minutes without stopping or 30. Regardless of what happens, the most important thing is that you took your first step towards better physical fitness. Give yourself permission to run at your own pace. Once you make peace with that, you’ll make progress. With regular work, your endurance, lung capacity, and enjoyment can only increase. Remember, you’re not an Olympic marathoner. You’re doing this for you.  Deciding on the right Running GearFirst, we want to start by saying that you don’t need to buy all new running gear to be a successful runner. The difference between good runners and great runners isn’t what they’re wearing, it’s their dedication. That said, here are a few things you can look out for:  Running ShoesThis is the most important part of your running gear, but that doesn’t mean it has to set you back a couple of paychecks. If you’re just beginning to run, you won’t need a $200 pair of high-performance kicks -- shopping at the bargain bin can be just as impactful. You can find name brand shoes at your local bargain stores. I’ve seen Nikes at Kohl’s, Reeboks at Ross, Asics at TJ Maxx. Even Groupon has great deals on shoes! The list goes on, just be on the lookout.Given that this is the only item you 100 percent need to run, take your time with the purchase. Make sure everything fits properly as there’s nothing like an unwanted blister to deter you from your regular running schedule. The best running undergarments: There’s nothing worse than running and coming home chafed on some part of your body you preferred untouched by rash. For long-distance runners, this occurs almost regardless of what you wear, but for newcomers, chafing is easily-preventable. Any pair of compression shorts will do the trick to keep your upper thighs free of burn. Make sure that the compression shorts are long enough to reach the part of your thighs that no longer touch each other when you run, that way your bare skin won’t be exposed to any friction.  Best Running Headphones Not everyone likes to be alone with their thoughts for the better part of an hour. When beginning running, you’ll want something to occupy your mind while you’re exerting your body. That makes headphones a must! However, not all headphones were created equal. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t have to worry about cord tangling. Regular earbuds will also work fine, but you’ll need either a pocket with a zipper, a phone case that attaches to your arm, or a free hand to keep the music flowing.If you’re looking for really great headphones, AfterShokz are my personal favorite when running. They have a unique open-ear design, so you can remain aware of your surroundings while enjoying your favorite music.The lightweight and bud-free design makes them super comfortable, and they stay put while you run. They’re also sweatproof, so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined on exceptionally difficult/sweaty runs!Check them out  here. Finding the Best Running MusicRunning music is important, it keeps you motivated which will help you make progress on each run. With technology in its current state, one can easily queue up their favorite song, multitask by listening to their favorite podcast during a run, or turn on a dedicated fitness app. If you want to use your regular music app, we recommend selecting something upbeat to keep you going. However, dedicated fitness apps make a huge difference since they were created to keep you motivated. RockMyRun, for example, is a mobile app that provides professionally curated music to runners. They take it a step further, literally, by basing the speed of the music on the runner's steps and heart rate. Users are also given the option to set the BPM manually or just pick a playlist and go. Check it out with a 14-day free trial!No matter what you choose, make sure that it motivates you to keep your legs churning out the steps even when they start to get heavy. Where and when should you run?Block out enough dedicated time depending on your goals and put those times into your smartphone as events with reminders set. Maybe you only want to run once a week or even four or five times. Any amount is fine, but once you put it on the calendar, stick to it. I run right when I get off work at night but just before dinner. This works for me because it’s still light outside, but cooler than midday. Furthermore, after running, I’m frequently hungry so I go straight from the bike path to the kitchen. Your running time should suit you, though -- early risers may want to get out during sunrise, while night owls may fit my schedule better. Regardless of when you run, make sure to pick a place that’s aesthetically pleasing like a local park if you love nature or through town if you’re a people watcher. If you’re a creature of convenience, stay close to home, no need to venture out just yet. You’ll be plenty occupied when you start and may not even notice your surroundings at first.  Now all you have to do is go for it!We hope these tips are helpful, but now the rest is up to you. When are you going to start? Today? Tomorrow? The more you put it off, the longer it will take you to set and beat your PRs. Go hit the track, we believe in you! Evan Ream  Written by Evan ReamEvan Ream is a reporter, columnist, and media professional based in Davis, Calif. His work has appeared in The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, and MLSsoccer.com. For years, he hated running, until finding Rock My Run allowed him to shut out the outside world and just go. He now runs at least three times a week and has lost 35 pounds during the pandemic by doing so.https://www.evanream.com/


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


How to Run Your First Marathon

  ·  8 min

How to Run Your First Marathon

Running a marathon for the first time is not easy, but with the right guidance, you’ll be in the best position possible to achieve this awesome goal. This post will help you prepare for your first marathon, and future marathons if you fall in love with it like I have. Let’s make that leap into the unknown and scary together! Deciding which marathon is right for youAdditionally, you need to figure out when/where you are racing to determine some key components to your training. For a beginner, I would recommend up to 16 weeks of total training. A lot of great marathons are in the Fall or Spring, so make sure you are also aware of the type of weather you thrive best in and try to pick a race that will match your needs. Personally, I like cooler temperatures so marathons in November and December are typically my favorite.Commit to the goalThe first step to running a marathon is to commit to the goal. The training will be hard, and the commitment and dedication will at times feel overwhelming. But what is hard is not impossible. Embrace each challenge and know that in the end, it will all be worth it. Now that you’ve decided you really want to do this, I would pick a marathon and register. Put in on your calendar; it will help conceptualize the entire process, which will help make everything feel more real and will add a component of accountability to your training. Picking a marathon training planThere are many beginner training plans online so make sure you pick one that excites you and you think you can handle. A few training plans that I trust and recommend are: https://www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/ (For a very novice runner who wants as much guidance as possible at no cost)https://runsmartproject.com/training-plans-old/ (For a beginner who is willing to pay for personalized workouts to match his/her training goals)http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon-training/ (For a beginner who has been doing some running/walking in the past few weeks)Here’s what you can expect: Typically, each week you want to include a long run (which I will argue is the most important run of the week), a faster-paced interval run (a run that includes some speed and is broken up into different length intervals), and 2-3 easy runs. The long run is crucial because it will be what most simulates what your actual marathon will feel like. The idea of ‘time on feet’ is critical to remember because you want to train your body to be able to handle the cumulative load of being on your feet for many hours at a time. You also want to make sure you include two days a week of supplemental strengthening exercises, which I will get into more detail a bit later. As you progress, you can add more volume/intensity to your week, but I would start with 4-5 days of running and 1-2 days of rest or cross-training (any other form of exercise: i.e. biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.)What running shoes should I buy for a marathon?Before you start running, you want to make sure you have the right shoes. In this day and age, there are hundreds of different shoes to choose from, so I would advise going into your local running store and having them fit you for a pair. The shoe buying process can be overwhelming with all the options and opinions out there, but one general guideline to follow: if the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot, you should be fine. Additionally, make sure you practice running in the shoes you will be racing in and try to get a new pair every 300-400 miles. This will help to keep your lower half healthy and feeling fresh.RecoveryAnother key component of your training is RECOVERY!! Recovery is not the absence of training, it is training in itself. A lot of runners struggle with this aspect, but the only way to make real progress in training is to let your body rest and adapt to the training. Many athletes have the flawed mentality that the more they train, the more fit they will become. Ultimately, without recovery one will never improve. It is the rest period after a workout that allows one’s body to adapt to the stress you just put it through and come back stronger than before. Recovery does not just mean rest. It also means making sure to stretch/foam roll to keep your muscles and tendons loose and pliable, eating immediately or as soon as possible after a workout, as well as strengthening exercises to keep you strong and injury-free. It is imperative to make time in your training for stability/mobility exercises, as well as strength-training to improve running form and decrease your likelihood of injury. Sometimes we think that running an extra mile here or there is going to be the difference to our training, but I strongly believe that reducing a run by 5-10 minutes and using that extra time to do strengthening exercises will benefit you much more in the long run (pun intended ). Again, there are a plethora of good resources online for flexibility and strengthening exercises, so find one you like and stick with it. Personally, I have found that Jay Dicharry’s books, Anatomy for Runners and Running Rewired, are phenomenal guides for both flexibility and strengthening exercises. If you don’t want to purchase his books, a few key strength exercises to include in your program twice a week are: Squats (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps)Lunges (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts (2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each leg)Plank hold (3x30 sec)Calf raises (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg)This leads me to my next important topic, sleep and nutrition. Sleep and NutritionTo have sufficient energy to fuel your body for the training you will be doing, you must take sleep and nutrition into account. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is ideal and you want to prioritize a sleep routine that keeps you feeling rested and feeling good. In regard to food, you need to think in terms of fueling your body. You want to make sure that you are giving your body the best possible nutrients to allow it to perform at its best. A lot of runners struggle with the nutrition component, but one of the best ways to think is to have the majority of your diet be comprised of whole foods (minimally processed foods that are close to nature, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.), whole-grains, and a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Also, the importance of protein for someone training for a marathon is essential. You are stressing your muscles to their limits and you want to replenish them with enough protein to help rebuild them. Lastly, you never want to go too long without eating and don’t tell yourself any food is off limits. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake, but if you’re craving a piece, then eat one! By listening to your hunger cues and giving your body what it wants, you will be less likely to binge on something that you have told yourself is off limits.You will really want to practice eating before big training runs so you can get familiar with whatworks well for your body before race day. Typically, some great pre-race foods include bananas, toast with peanut butter and honey, and oatmeal. The night before your race you want to focus on eating a meal that has about 60% carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread), 30% protein, and 10% fat. Finally, you need to practice fueling DURING your training runs. There are now a wide array of energy gels out there to practice with, as well as some liquid carbohydrate based drinks that work great. Personally, I love the Maurten carbohydrate drink and the Gu energy gels. Just make sure you always practice your strategies and NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.The mental component of running a marathonThe last piece of the puzzle that I think is critical is the mental component. In endurance sports, the mind can play many tricks on the body and it is vital to remember that we are stronger than we think. A huge mantra that has helped me in my running career is to ‘control the controllables’. We don’t have control over the weather or how other people are doing, but we do have control over our attitude and our effort. Do your best to focus on the factors that will put you in the best position to reach your goal. Everything else is irrelevant.You can do this!I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”Go out there and chase down your dreams my friends! Adriana started running competitively in 6th grade and competed at a Varsity level all throughout high school. Her junior year of college at Duke University, she decided to run her first marathon after spontaneously joining a friend for her 16 mile long run. She finished the Disney Marathon in January 2011 in a time of 3:17. Fast forward to now, Adriana has brought her marathon PR down to 2:44, and has run many marathons, most recently the 2018 and 2019 California International Marathon, 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 2020 Aviation Marathon, and qualified and competed at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia! She lives in in Winston-Salem, NC and works as a Career Services Specialist at Wake Forest University. 


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

  ·  2 min

RockMyRun User Feedback Survey Results

We’re always looking to improve our app, and wanted to make sure that we understood where our current opportunities were. So in May of 2020, we sent out a survey to our most active RockMyRun users. Primarily, we wanted to know how the app was doing, but we also geek out on data and wanted to see how people are using RockMyRun.Here are the results! How often do people use RockMyRun?We found that 32% of our users use RockMyRun 3-4 times a week. That’s a very high number, meaning that people use our app almost every day. That was exciting for us to see, and we were also impressed with our users dedication to fitness! What do people use RockMyRun For?Not surprisingly, most users (76%!) use RockMyRun for running, but people also like to use it for walking, cardio, erights, group fitness classes, cycling, and more!We also had some really interesting “Other” write-ins, such as cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning, driving, and as background music for gatherings with friends. Who’s using the Tempo Changing Feature? One of the features that sets RockMyRun apart from other apps is the automatic tempo changing based on GPS, heart rate, etc. So we were curious: How many people are currently using this feature?We were glad that the majority were taking advantage of this feature, but only 63%!Here’s how people were using this feature:79% of users manually set their BPM, while only 35% connect it to their steps, and only 18% connect it to their heart rate.What new features did people request?Most responses said that integrating with speakers, such as Bose® or Sonos®, would be a valuable feature.Additionally, most people also said they’d love to have RockMyRun work on an AppleWatch without needing to have their device near. We also received feedback that we need to improve the music discovery process, which is something we are already working on!We hope you find these results as interesting as we do!Do you agree? Where do you stack up? We’d love to hear in the comments.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Top 10 Rules of the Road

  ·  3 min

Top 10 Rules of the Road

Looking for a few ways to make the most out of your running experience? Follow my Top 10 Rules of the Road for a more enjoyable, less stressful run.1. Be ThankfulIf you are fortunate enough to be able to run at your own discretion, be grateful for that gift.  Some people do not have that ability.  Embrace the gift, because it can be taken away in an instant.2. Just Do ItThe more you think about it, the less likely you are to actually do it.  Don’t think.  Just do.3. Ditch the Jordan’sBaggy short are to running what oil is to water – they just don’t mix!  So get rid of the high tops shoes and wife beaters and pick up some running-specific gear.  Not only will you actually look like a runner, but you will feel and perform like one too.4. This Isn’t GymnasticsWe’re not on the pummel horse here, we’re on the pavement.  Nobody cares about your splits.  If somebody wants to know how fast your individual mile times are, they’ll ask.5. Shut Up and RunNobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.  If you wait for perfect conditions, your muscles to stop aching, or your schedule to open up, you’re not going to get very far.  Embrace the wind.  Learn to love 20 degree runs.6. FamiliarityWhether it’s a spoonful of butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, put the same foods in your body prior to your run.  Do not eat anything your body is unaccustomed to.  Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.  Your stomach and digestive system will thank you around mile 10.7. Pre-Game RitualAlways.  Always.  Always.  Make a visit to the restroom before a long run.  Just as with Rule 6, your stomach will be happy you did this.8. Mix It UpRun alone.  Run with people.  Run on the treadmill.  Run on the road.  Run intervals.  Run distance.  Specificity is important when training for a race or a certain distance.  But variety will limit boredom and give you different workouts to look forward to.9. We Are All EqualRunners are as varied as any group of people in the world.  Some of us are sprinters while others prefer distance.  Some of us like to listen to the pounding of feet against the pavement and some like the pounding of music in our headphones.  As different as we may be, we are also equal because we are runners.10. Enjoy it!This is why I run.  I make it a personal goal to enjoy every run, whether it’s a struggle or not.  So, take a break every once in a while and remember why you run.  Find what you enjoy about it and keep that close to you.As a holiday gift for you all, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite treadmill workouts.  I call this the High/Low Workout.  As the name indicates, you will alternate between high and low running speeds on the treadmill.  I usually set my intervals for 30 seconds at a high intensity followed by 30 seconds of low intensity running.  Each set usually lasts for 5-6 minutes, with a 1 minute walk in between sets.To give you an idea of what the High/Low entails, here is what a typical workout looks like for me:Set 1: 8.0 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 2: 8.5 MPH/6.0 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 3: 9.0 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 4: 9.5 MPH/5.5 MPH – 5 MinutesSet 5: 10.0 MPH/5.0 MPH – 5 MinutesDo you have any of your own Rules of the Road?  Leave your favorite rule in the comment box below!Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


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