SHOP (6)

Variety in Running Training

It is one of those weeks where you are hanging on by the skin of your teeth. It is the biggest week of the fall at work and I am not sleeping much, so if this is typo-ridden, you know why.

I am on a cross training theme this week and I thought that today I would focus on different types of running and why I vary the surfaces, distance and elevation that I train on. Unlike most runners, I began my race career by running on the trails so that is where I find I have the highest comfort level. I slowly progressed to road races and finally started training on the track as well. I find that every type of running has it’s place in a well balanced runner.

Track: Nothing did more for my foot turnover, top end speed and abs then speed work on the track. I was nervous at first, but as I watched my numbers get faster and faster, I fell in love with 400 m, 800 m and 1 KM distances for training. Now, I crave the deep burn that comes from giving a sprint all you have and the amazing feeling of crushing a workout with my team. I can mimic the last portion of a race to make sure I always end strong.

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Road: The majority of runner’s training is done on road and I love the slow, easy rhythm that you can fall into on the road. I have a love for the long distance run and I live in the country, so I put on my headphones, turn on a good podcast and head out for a couple hours of blissing out. Not only that, but the volume that I build will be helpful in building an aerobic base for running.

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Trail: My heart. This type of running always makes me excited, because I can embrace my inner explorer and mountain goat and attack the hills and jump over rocks and streams. I love practicing my down hill speed and working on technical portions to build strength and endurance.

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Speaking of trail, my very favourite trail series is coming to an end this weekend.  5 Peaks Hardwood Hills is the grande finale of the season and I can’t help but feel a little sad. It’s been a wonderful season and I am sad to see it end. The course is on a mountain bike trail and is not bad for beginners – hilly, but not overly technical. It falls about in the middle in terms of difficulty.

Doing some hill climbs to prep for next weekend!

They have a ton of giveaways (essentially everything they didn’t give away the prior races) and lots of opportunity to podium! If you are wanting to sign up, there are still slots and you can use JESSICA as a discount code for $5 off.

Road, track or trail?

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Caffeine and Runners

It’s been one of those ‘blink and you’ve missed it’ weeks. It may be because I have been busily tackling my list of goals for September already, including getting in my first squash session of the year as well as going to my first Muay Thai lesson ever!

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It is a busy week that is shaping up to be an even busier weekend with plans of going to the ElectroDash and 5 Peaks Kortright Centre races as well as headed to Niagara with some of my best friends from university. A nice balance for the weekend, but a few projects will have to take a back seat.

I had talked a little bit over the marathon on how I played around with caffeine usage and I received a number of questions on that. Basically, the week before the marathon, I cut all caffeine out. Now, please keep in mind that up until this point, I was a 2-3 x a day coffee consumer. Literally addicted and I made no apologies (it’s even in my blog name, after all). On race morning, I added it back in by taking a lemon lime Nuun Energy tab which is my favourite pre-race drink with B vitamins and caffeine.

You will find caffeine in quite a few sports nutrition products and there is a good reason for it!

Mental Alertness and Improved State of Mind

Just as your morning cup of coffee helps you get mentally ready to face the day, research shows that caffeine boosts your mental alertness, improves your mood, and boosts your desire to run hard.

Even better, for longer events, such as the marathon and half marathon, caffeine reduces a runner’s perception of effort.Even better? Caffeine increases the concentration of endorphins in the brain, the same hormones that produce a runner’s high.

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Increases sprint speed and power

Caffeine enhances reaction time and improves neuromuscular coordination (how fast your brain can send a signal to your muscles to contract and relax). This is great for any distance of running as improved neuromuscular coordination allows your leg muscles to fire faster and more forcefully, which means you can run faster with less effort.

Fat Utilization

Although it isn’t fully clear how caffeine increases fat utilization, most researchers agree that caffeine increases the number of fatty acids in the blood stream, which increases the speed at which your body can covert fat to usable energy, which conserves glycogen. This is amazing for long distance runners!

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Since the marathon, I have continued to consume caffeine, but much more cautiously than before. I will go without it some days and try to use it around heavy workouts. I have found it to be an incredible boost to put in that extra bit of work on the track or on a long run.

Tastes amazing, smells like home and makes me run faster? Sign me up!

Speaking of signing up, Olympian Adam Goucher (Kara Goucher’s husband) has started a virtual race series called Run the Edge Virtual Race series.

goucher_adamq1_world07Each month, they sign up with a charity and this month, they are supporting service dogs. Basically, you go to this link, sign up and do a virtual race with the opportunity to win prizes while supporting a charity. I am all about using my running to do good, so sign up and join me on September 27 as I race for Medical Service Dogs. 

Are you a caffeine addict? How do you take your coffee?

Seemed like a good idea at the time...

Baden 7 Miler Race Recap

Happy Friday, friends!

Welcome to the weekend! It has been a huge week of change for me as I started a new position at my work place and it has been non-stop madness. On top of that, it has been a high volume/high intensity training week so I am ready to glide into this glorious long weekend! Per usual, I have a host of “social training” with lots of trail runs, long runs, bike rides all followed by patio inhabitation. I am also headed to Hamilton to visit two of my best friends in the entire world. Basically, perfection of a long weekend.

Last weekend, I raced with my Health and Performance team and my running bestie, Angela. It was the Baden 7 Miler from the Run Waterloo Series  and boy, it was a hard race!

It was an out and back course with the middle portion being a hill climb of the highest point in South Western Ontario. As a hill junkie, I was pretty excited about this, especially knowing that the fastest female runner on the hill would get a new pair of shoes. My training Asics are almost worn out as they have a duathlon, a marathon and a load of spring training on them so it is time for a new pair!

The race hub was at Wilmot Rec Complex. I arrived in decent time, stretched and went on a warm up run and toed up to the windy start line at 9:30.

The first portion of the race was fairly easy. There were a few uphills and we were racing with the 5 KM racers but it thinned out at the 2.5 km mark and I passed a female runner to come into second. I was racing against Erin Fox and I knew I wouldn’t be able to beat her, so I just focused on my goal for 2014 of podiuming and settled into a regular pace.

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I tried to maintain a 4:10 and slowed slightly coming up to the hill climbs. There is an incline leading up to the gravel hill so I took it back to a 4:30.

At the hill, I focused on proper form and quick foot turn over and rang the bell at the top of the hill (one of the coolest features of the race) and sprinted back down, gasping for air.

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The way back was downhill, but it proved more difficult to me than the uphill beginning. I was able to maintain a fairly consistent pace but the wind was whipping back towards me which was difficult both physically and mentally. I climbed the final hill with two KM to go and realized I didn’t have much left for the finish.

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I did the best I could, but with the combination of the big climbs and strong wind, I wasn’t able to negative split like I was hoping. I managed a decent sprint finish for a time of 49:07, second female overall, first female in the hill climb and first in my age group.

It was a super fun race and the RunWaterloo served up the amazing goodies it always does including delicious food (hello watermelon!), post race massages and giveaways including $250 and a RunWaterloo quilt.

My next RunWaterloo race is the Waterloo 10 KM Classic and I race Sulphur Springs 25 KM trail race next Saturday.

Did you race last weekend? How did it go?

Injury

Part 2: It Band Syndrome – Treatment and Therapy

Well hello friends!

What a weekend it has been. I apologize for spamming your instagram feed all weekend with pictures of the race weekend in Toronto but I had so. much. fun! I will post an official recap of the race along with my official race time.

For right now, it’s time to dig back into the IT Band series that I started last week. I got a LOT of response on this post – so many of you have suffered from this and it is not joke. I was sidelined for an entire season in my last year of varsity cross country in university due to this injury, so I am no stranger to it as well.

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So, you have felt that stinging pain in the lateral side of your knee or the entire band. Maybe it is even red or swollen. Now what? Start with things that you can do immediately.

Firstly?

STOP RUNNING.

This is the hardest piece of advice for runners to follow, but an IT Band injury is not one that you can run through. It will only continue to get worse and each run that you put on it will only delay your injury. It’s simple. If it hurts to run, don’t run.

2. Cross Train: My IT band injury was so severe in 2012 that I was not even able to cycle without pain, but if you are able to get on the bike, give it a try. Another great form of cross training is swimming or pool running. You do not need to stop training during this period, just do not run.

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3. Ladies, ditch the heels. I love a good pair of heels as much as the next girl, but standing in shoes that move your feet from their ideal position is going to cause additional stress and inflammation. I actually don’t wear heels through my entire racing season for this reason, but at the very minimum, if you are injured, wear a pair of supportive flats like Vionic.

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4. Foam Roll. Make this little critter your best friend. You will spend a LOT of time rolling around on the floor together, so you may as well make peace with it. Roll at intervals. I did 10 minutes in the morning and 10 at night as well as stretching and massaging the area.

4. Sleep More. Any time your body is trying to overcome something whether it is a flu, stress or an injury, sleep is both healing and restorative. Add an extra hour to your nights and reap the benefits of soft tissue healing.

5. Ice the area. Icing the painful area will help relieve the inflammation however, if it is the knee that is sore, be very careful not to put ice directly on the skin. You can do more harm than good if you freeze your knee, so wrap an ice pack in a cloth or apply a cold, wet compress to the area, which will provide the same results.

So you have done everything on the list and it still hurts? It is time to take the next steps:

1. See a physiotherapist. I email my physiotherapist almost weekly to check in with symptoms, training and periodization. It is important to find a professional that you feel comfortable working with and who is knowledgable and helpful. They will check out the area and provide treatments such as acupuncture, electrotherapy (which is much less intimidating than it sounds), strengthening exercises and will work closely with you to get you back on your feet in no time!

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2. See a massage therapist. At the end of the day, your fascia just wants to be stripped. Massage therapist was the NUMBER ONE way that I returned to running when I was down and out in 2012. I saw an incredible local therapist who wasn’t afraid to make me writhe in pain and she gave me some incredible stretches that I still do after every run.

Being covered in masseuse bruises not your thing? Consider getting Active Release Techniques. 

Good luck recovering!

Check back next Monday for my favourite stretches and strengthening exercises for the IT Band! 

Recovered from an IT Band injury? What therapy options am I missing? 

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Yoga for Runners

Good morning, friends!

How was your weekend? I had a fabulous and glowing return to running, renewed my CPR and spent some much needed time with friends!

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Last week, I had the pleasure to be involved in the first session of a Yoga for Runners workshop held at Urban Wellness Studio.

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The location is a fresh, open-concept area that offers everything from wellness services such as chiropractor, massage and naturopath to fitness classes and personal training. It is classy, modern and fun!

I was excited to join in the yoga program because I knew it would be a small class tailored to individual athletes. The program is lead by Whitney Lord who is both a runner, yogi and very serious about ensuring her participants have proper posture! She clearly explained the benefits of each pose specific to runners and spent extra time doing hands on adjustments to make sure that we were in the perfect position.

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We began with aligning the spine and ensuring that we were relaxing, letting go and getting ready to do some work!

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One thing I really enjoyed about the first session was the attention to detail in our postures. I regularly do advanced yoga classes but it was good to take a few step back and ensuring that each pose is held perfectly. We worked on raising the ribs, squaring the hips and adjusting posture – all small details that help both on the running  trails and every day life.

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Why should runners consider adding yoga to their routine?
According to our  instructor, practicing yoga on an off day will help bring balance to your routine. A weekly routine of high-mileage, workouts, and weights, help to create a strong body. Practicing yoga heightens awareness of our bodies which allows us to be in tune with all the little tweaks and impending injuries that threaten to throw us off of our training and racing schedule.

Whitney uses a wide variety of props and poses to keep you working different muscle groups and keeps high intensity participants like me from getting bored.

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The one hour class flew by. It was filled with lots of discussion on how to use certain poses to effectively stretch runner’s problem areas, a lot of adjustments on my form and the sinking realization that Angela from Eat-Spin-Run-Repeat and I do NOT have a relax button.

unnamedI cannot wait to go back next week and I would love to have you join me next Thursday from 6-7 to work out our runner problems together! There are only a few spaces left and you can register here if you are interested.

In honor of taking something high energy and trying to bring it down a few notches, I have a musical track to share with you all. I love electronic and trance music for training and one of my absolute favourites is Above & Beyond. All weekend, I was listening to a beautiful acoustic version of their music rather than working away to my usual trance podcasts. Absolutely gorgeous and worth a listen.

If you are a runner, is yoga a part of your cross training?
Regular yogi? What is your favorite pose? – I love crow, just because it took me SO long to get it down pat!

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Breathing Patterns and Running

A couple weeks ago, I was working with my physiotherapist and he was barking orders while I ran on a treadmill.

“Keep your left foot 1/2 cm to the left.”
“Get rid of that toe strike on your right foot!”
“Midfoot on the left.”

I was thinking so hard about running properly that I felt awkward and unnatural. As runners, we spend a lot of time thinking about proper running form and foot strike, but we neglect breathing patterns, which is a shame because the proper breathing technique will help to train more accurately and run faster.

Breathing Patterns

Training your breathing is another thing to think about but adding it into your running will help make you a faster, stronger running. The best way to optimize breathing is to count. When I was first starting out, I did a 2 – 2 pattern. Breathe in for 2 and out for two and tried to match it up with my foot strike. This pattern is different for everyone and it certainly has changed for me over the years. Play with different patterns such as 2-2, 3-3, 2-3, or 3-4 to see what works best for you, especially in changing terrain such as hills and speed work.

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Breath Control

One of the huge advantages I had when I began running was a history as a choir girl. We were taught how to breathe deeply into the diaphragm and not just to fill up the chest with air. This type of deep belly breathing allows you to take it an optimal amount of air and keeps the rest of your body relaxed. To check if you are doing it correctly, put your hand over your midriff and breath deeply – if your hand moved, you are doing it correctly. 

Mouth Breather

I have heard many camps of thought that say you should breath through your nose while running. I subscribe to the belief that you should do whatever is most comfortable for you. The reality is, as you increase the difficulty level of your running, you need more oxygen and there is no way to comfortably get the amount of air needed from breathing through your nose.

Do you use a breathing pattern when you run? 
What was the most difficult part of starting out for you in running?

 Training last week

Monday: Pilates – 45 minutes.
Spin – 1 hour.
Run: 10 KM – 2 KM repeats x 3

Tuesday: Swim – 45 minutes
Rock Climbing – 2.5 hours

Wednesday: Spin – 45 minutes.
Skating – 30 minutes
Running – 25 x 1 minute repeats

Thursday: Snowboarding – 4 hours

Friday: 8 mile run.
Skiing – 2 hours

Saturday: 22 km run with 10 km tempo

Sunday: Rest 

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A.M vs P.M Training

Well hello there!

I hope you had a fabulous weekend and are ready to get back at it this week! I spent the weekend in Toronto at a work conference, visiting some friends and having lunch with these fabulous ladies.

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Only with these ladies will the lunch time conversation revolve around race schedules, training plans and nutrition. It was a fabulous time. If you are looking for new blogs to follow, check them out:

Angela of EatSpinRunRepeat

Christina of The Athletarian

Krysten of The Misadventures of a Darwinian Fail

Danielle of Work It, Wear It, Eat It

Ale of Wishful Shrinking

Karina Kornacka

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As I am headed back into my regular training schedule now that I more or less have a handle on my injury, I am working to figure out the best TIME to train. There is science supporting the fact that when you train at the same time as your race time, you will be more luckily to be successful in the race. Unfortunately, not every week goes seamlessly and I can find myself sneaking in a run later at night or earlier in the morning than usual.

So the question is, when is the best time to run during the day?

University of Texas researchers tested the difference between running in the morning vs the evening. Here’s the breakdown. 

  • Runners are 6% LESS energy efficient in the evenings, meaning they needed extra oxygen to run at the same pace.
  • HOWEVER, they could supply 4% more oxygen and 7% more anaerobic energy to their muscles so they were actually faster overall in the evening.

So what does this mean?

Running in the morning: 

This is not the peak time for running. Body functions are at their absolute worst given you have been unmoving basically all night and you have not had intake for more than 10 hours, meaning your energy stores will be depleted. It will be the hardest time of the day to run but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. Running in the morning will help to build mental strength and help you push through discomfort in races. Plus, if you have a busy schedule, it is often the only time to fit it in.

Running in the evening:

Running is best performed mid to late afternoon as body temperatures peak. Things will feel easier, faster and will miles will fly by more quickly. Unfortunately, most races are in the morning, so it is important to train when you race for at least some of your training percentage. Drawbacks of running at this time are psychological, meaning it is harder to find the motivation to get out of the door after a long day at the office.

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What time of day is your prime running time? 

Ps. You have two more days to enter my contest for a free box of ActivFuel from Genuine Health. Enter now! 

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Genuine Health Giveaway – CLOSED

Hello there!

It has been a crazy week so far – it is the first week back to the regular grind and normal training schedule and I feel as if I have been playing catch up!

Now that I am back to my regular training schedule to prep for racing this year, it is more important than ever that my nutrition is working for me. I made this video with Genuine Health to show what supplements I use and when I use them.

A couple things. That smoothie? Make it. I just took one down and it is so, so delicious. Here is the recipe for you:

POWER SMOOTHIE

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- 1 cup frozen strawberries

- 1 banana

- 1 TBS of coconut oil

- 1 TBS of ground flaxseed

- 1 scoop of protein powder.

- 3 cups of spinach or kale

- 1 cup of almond milk

Blend and slam.

Also, what kind of person would I be if I wouldn’t share the wealth with you?! I’m giving away a package of ActivFuel for you to have pre- and during workouts.

I mentioned it a bit in the video, but here is a bit more information of what it does for you:

  1. Build & Prepare – with whey protein isolate and BCAAs
  2. Fuel – with carbs from organic agave, brown rice sweetener and organic beets
  3. Speed & Strength – with taurine and kola nut
  4. Rehydrate & Replenish – with electrolytes and coconut water
  5. Go the Distance – with creatine, rhodiola, vitamin B1, magnesium and Appleboost® Organic apple peel 

Breaking it down, this is what it does for you PRE-WORKOUT:

Increases energy - Branched Chain Amino Acids that support muscle synthesis and counter muscle fatigue are combined with carbohydrate sources such as sprouted brown rice syrup, agave & beet root to provide the body with slow burning carbs giving you energy to burn.

Improves endurance - All-natural caffeine from Kola nut, combined with taurine provide the body with both the mental and physical edge to go the distance.

I often will use the product during a workout as well. DURING YOUR WORKOUT:

Maintains optimal hydration - Vitally important electrolytes from coconut water + sodium and potassium ensure proper hydration throughout your whole workout.

Maintains stamina & endurance- Vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients have been chosen with the athlete in mind that work to nourish the body improving endurance, mental & physical stamina and help you push through your toughest workout.

Want to win a box of it? Leave a comment saying what sport you will be destroying with ActivFuel.

Want additional entries?

Like Laces and Lattes and Genuine Health on Facebook.
Like Laces and Lattes and Genuine Health on Twitter.
and don’t forget to tell me you did!

Draw will be made Wednesday, January 15.

Good luck and happy fuelling!

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For The Days You Don’t Want To Run

I thought I would use the rest of the week to tackle some of the common running questions that I get from you. The problem is, they are good questions, which means I have a long answer (per usual) and split them into two posts. 

Today’s question: Do you ever have days that you just don’t want to go running? What do you do about it?

To be honest, I don’t have many.

When I first started the process, there were many more runs that I just wasn’t feeling because I was building up the aerobic base, adapting my body to running and just learning the ins and outs of the process.

Over time, going out during a sunset or sunrise run on my favourite route became a reward rather than a requirement.

A few things I tried when I was just starting out to keep running interesting, motivating and fresh were to buy new workout clothes and shoes, find another friend who was just starting out too so I could learn more about what I was doing, setting a goal, whether it was to add one kilometre to my run or train for a race, tell someone who was influential to me that I was going on a run so they would check in or go at a time of day when I was feeling confident and motivated. (Often first thing in the morning before I was fully awake!) If you leave it till the end of the day when you are just getting started, I find that you spend the day worrying or dreading it! 

When you are just getting started though, my number one piece of advice is to pick a race to train for, especially a local 5 km! There has been no greater motivation over the years for me to stick to my training than a race.

Some runs remain forever etched in my memory because I was tired, sick or just not in the right headspace.

I strongly believe that the above quote is true. Once you have pushed past the aerobic base building phase and have a platform of fitness to work with, the hard runs are the ones that your mind just says NO to.

Now that I have that fitness base built up, the hard runs are the ones where my body is feeling sluggish or I am rushed or goodness knows what else. At this point, it is not my body I need to coax, but my mind. Here are a few things I say to myself to keep myself running:

“Just run out (insert number of miles) and run back. At least you get some training in.” (Bartering)

“This isn’t a big deal, you are not a professional athlete. No one cares if you quit.” (This one makes me mad and I push harder)

“You can have a nice cup of coffee after this.” (Bribing)

“Don’t be a wimp.” (Personal insult)

“Nice job, sweetheart!” (Stroking my own ego)

“Ignore the pain. You won’t get injured.” (Famous last words….)

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Regardless your level of running, whether just starting, intermediate or professional, there will be days when you just don’t feel a run. It is at that point where you need to develop phrases, counting or other mental tricks to keep moving forward. When all else fails, there is that deep love of just running that lives deep inside the heart of a runner.

And when that fails, there is bribery.

What are your tricks to push through a long run?

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Time Management When Training

This past week, I received this tweet:

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Unfortunately, the answer cannot fit in 140 characters, so this post was born.

Simply put, it is hard. I love to be busy, connected and have a problem with the concept that NO is a complete sentence so I am constantly running around when I should be running. However, more or less, I am able to complete my marathon and ultramarathon training no problem. These are a few ways that I have found to be helpful when fitting running into an already jam-packed schedule.

At the beginning of the week, I sit down with my planner and put in every single workout that I need to do. I have a time scheduled on that day when it will happen. If life occurs and I cannot get to that run, I do not stress, but I focus on running well the next time.

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Standard week

For the long run, I carve out an entire morning either on Saturday or Sunday and I run for about 3 or 4 hours to build up my aerobic base. Would I rather be doing something else? Not really. I view it as a reset button for my week where I can think through what I need to accomplish and listen to my favourite podcast. 

During the week, I switch up my training between morning and night, with a group or a coach, hills or flat road, road running or trail running. It gives me a huge variety which fits in my schedule.

I also incorporate a lot of cross training which goes a LONG way to keep me strong and fast when running.

To sum it up, I have the training down to a regular routine that I expect, which keeps me from bailing on a workout and staying consistent.

This is what an average week of training looks like for me: 

Monday: Teach 2 one hour spin classes. One at 6 am, one at 5:30 pm. It is a nice bookend for my workday, one before I get to the office and one before dinner. This is my “off day”, which is a nice break from running to recover from my long run on Sunday and flush out my legs.

Tuesday: Two hour training session with my coach including hill sprints, form work, intervals and stretching. This is done in a group setting and it a great way to improve my time while chatting with other running freaks.

Wednesday: 1 hour of Pilates followed by one hour hills session. I teach a class at 6 am and then drive to some local hills and run them at a fast pace and try to tackle 9 – 10 hills.

Thursday: Easy 8 km run. I try to do this at around 5:36 km/min. Early morning before work.

Friday: 1 hour spin class followed by 1/2 hour weight session. All done by 7:30 am!

Saturday: One hour interval session or easy 1 hour run, depending on how I am feeling that week.

Sunday: 3-4 hour run from 32-42 km at a slow, easy pace. 

So I have approximately 12 hours of training a week that I need to fit in. I often slip it in the mornings which means I need to be in bed in decent time (which means I commit social suicide by being a runner.)

I have a wonderful group of super supportive friends that are either runners themselves or are beyond supportive of the fact that I cannot always stay late or go to every event because my training is important to me.

Others get up at 6 am on a Saturday morning to fit in a long run

Others get up at 6 am on a Saturday morning to fit in a long run

Sacrifices are a part of being a runner, but they don’t feel like sacrifices because I merely do not do the things that are not necessary or are redundant. I get 7-8 hrs of sleep as much as I can, eat well and see my friends often. I don’t read books, I listen to audio books. I don’t watch tv, I run.

Like everything in life, fitting in running is just a matter of looking at my priorities and gleaning out the things that aren’t necessary. In a world where it is necessary to be completely on, plugged in and keeping up, sometimes it is good to turn off, unplug and run away for a while.

What do you cut out so you can run?