5 Tips for Unplugging from Social Media

Ah, social media. I have quite the love/hate relationship with it. As a blogger, social media is a part of my job. It’s not realistic for me to never get on it all together, but I do realize that I spend way more time than necessary randomly scrolling, liking, and planning my next photo. I don’t ever want to look back and say I didn’t heed any tips for unplugging, and I missed out on life because I was too busy looking at a screen, so I have decided to put some parameters on my social media usage to help me not get sucked in all the time.

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Check out these tips for unplugging:

1. Turn off notifications: Yall, I have so many notifications on my phone that I have to put it on do not disturb at night. I have slowly been turning off notifications so that I am not constantly checking things every time I hear a notification alert. Also, I have turned off the pop up notifications from Facebook on my laptop. I realized these were really a time suck for me while I was trying to do work on my computer.

2. Move apps away from your home screen: If it’s too tempting to click on your social media apps every time you look at your phone, maybe you need to move them off of your main screen, or put them in a folder so you can’t see the little red notification icons on each one.

3. Set limits: I don’t think it’s necessary to completely rid myself of social media all the time (and I wouldn’t be able to do my job!). I plan to try giving myself breaks during the day where I am allowed to check on things. Maybe while I eat lunch, and a 10 minute break in the afternoon before I get my daughter from daycare, as well as a few minutes in the evening after she goes to bed.

4. Stay busy: I feel that I often find myself defaulting to social media sites when I am bored. It’s not that I don’t have anything to do, it’s when I am procrastinating that I find I am the most likely to get distracted. If I have a list of things I need to do and stay busy, I am less likely to check social media.

5. Keep it out of the bedroom: My biggest downfall with social media is using it endlessly in the evenings, especially when I am laying in bed before going to sleep (c’mon I know some of you do it too!) I always complain I don’t have time to read more books or magazines, etc. but the reality is I just waste a lot of time on social media. I am going to try keeping my phone out of the bedroom in evening when I have time to read or do other things.

I have already started with some of these steps, and plan to implement the rest today. I hope they will help me have a more balanced life. You can still enjoy social media and your online friends while not neglecting your family, home, or job.

RELATED: Download the FREE Social Media Manager Checklist

QOTD: What is another tip you would add?

5 Things I Have Learned About Lifting Weights

I have been talking up boot camp for awhile now, and it’s because I have seen changes in my body like I never saw when I was just running. I always assumed I was “in shape” because I could run a marathon, but y’all, I really wasn’t in overall good health/shape. lifting weights has helped me in so many ways though!

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I have urged, begged, and pleaded with you in the past to start strength training if you are mainly just doing cardio, and yup, I’m going to do it again. I would love to make a believer out of you! Here are five things I have learned since I started lifting.

1.) You burn calories for longer: When you lift weights, you have the potential to burn calories for HOURS after, even while you sit on your couch. Your muscles have to repair themselves, so yup, better calorie burn for you, without the extra work! I don’t know about you, but I much prefer burning calories in my PJ’s on the couch than actually having to stay at the gym for an extra hour.

2.) You will look better: Let’s face it. Someone who looks strong looks healthy. My posture is better, my arms look better in a tank top, and I have gotten rid of a lot of excess jiggly flab all over my body. I feel way more toned and tight than I ever did just running. I love it!

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3.) You will run faster: Lifting has made my legs way stronger, so I am able to run faster than before with less running workouts. I have the strength to hold my body in proper running form longer, too. I was so surprised to PR in my 5K last month because I only run once a week right now!

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4.) You probably won’t bulk up: I say probably because you can bulk up, but it is highly unlikely it will happen unless you are trying to. I go to boot camp and lift four days a week and while I am more toned, I do not feel bulky. Don’t let this common misconception stop you!

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5.) You will feel more confident: Looking better, feeling better, and being able to do more with my body has given me such a sense of accomplishment. I am not as afraid to try new things, and I am so thankful that for all that my body does for me every day. It’s just this overall sense of wellness that is kind of addicting. Join me?

As always, please check with your doctor before starting an exercise routine. You will probably be really sore at first but don’t give up! Sore is good. Live for the sore! Let’s all be healthy and fit this summer.

QOTD: Do you lift weights? How does it make you feel? Has it helped you in other areas like running or another sport?

Getting Over Gym Fear

A lot of people really don’t like the gym, but I’m sure you already knew that. I totally get it. A lot of gyms can be intimidating, especially if they are large, or full of super star looking athletes throwing weights around and grunting loudly (not knocking superstar weightlifters, but you have to see how it can be intimidating to some folks), or are filled with perfect looking young women who don’t look like they have an ounce of fat on them, and are always in the most perfect gym outfits.

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My parents are some of those folks. They are 60, and want to stay fit but don’t fit in with heavy lifters, or young moms in spandex shorts taking classes or playing tennis (again, nothing wrong with those things, but it intimidates a lot of people!) They used to go to a very large, fancy country club type health club simply for convenience (it’s right across the street from their house), but they slowly started going less and less because they just didn’t feel comfortable working out there. This made me really sad, and I am really glad my parents did some research and found the type of gym that works for them.

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That’s the great thing about the gym industry and it’s growth right now, there are so many options! Something for everyone! There are 24 hour gyms, country club type gyms, crossfit boxes, Koko fit club (where my parents go) among other things. So what if you don’t have a lot of options? What if you have one gym to go to, and you just have to make the best of the situation, then what? Below are some of my best tips for getting over any fear or anxiety you may have about going to your gym.

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1.) Schedule some time with a trainer: One of the biggest reasons people don’t use machines at the gym is because they don’t know how to use them and don’t want to look stupid if they can’t figure something out, or are using a machine wrong (this used to be me before I started strength training!) A lot of gyms will give you a free hour with a trainer or employee to get you familiar with all the different machines, and help you to know how much weight you should use, and how many reps you should do. This is a great resource!

2.) Go with a friend: When I first started lifting, I would go with my husband and he would help me get going. Not being there alone really helped to build my confidence in the beginning.

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3.) Avoid busy times: Early in the morning and after work are very busy times for gyms. You may not have a choice, but if you do, try to go in an off peak time so there will be less people in the gym to make you feel awkward.

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4.) Mentally prepare yourself: Remind yourself that there are probably other people nervous to be at the gym, too. Remember that most likely no one will ever even know you are having any anxiety about being there. Also, most people are so busy and into their own workouts that they don’t even notice other people (I don’t notice most people at the gym, I’m in the zone!)

5.) Suck it up: You have to decide what is more important to you. If getting to the gym is your top priority, then you just have to do it. Most likely, the more you go the more comfortable you will become and soon your fears will be gone. Take a step out of your comfort zone and just do it, one time. The second time should be easier, so it’s just taking that first step. You can do it!

QOTD: Do you like going to the gym? Were you ever intimidated by going?

Falling Off the Training Wagon

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. Between spending five days in Oklahoma, and then coming home and taking over the local Orange Leaf, it has left little time for running. I am really frustrated by this, because when I chose my fall half marathon training plan, I was DETERMIND to stick with it. You see, I am not so great at following through with training plans and typically end up doing my own thing at some point along the way.

So you can imagine my frustration when I went to finally get in a good run yesterday, and I could only manage two miles because I pulled my back. Then, this morning I woke up sick with a cold. Seriously? I don’t think I have been sick since before I was pregnant! Bobby thinks I pushed too hard running around trying to work at the shop and then do my other two jobs at home + caring for the baby and the house, but eh, I’m not sure. Could just be coincidence. Either way, I’m sick. As in I want to rip my nose off my face because I can’t breathe, and I have chills and that all over icky feeling…so who knows when I will get back to running.

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It’s really tempting to just throw my hands up and say “forget about it, I’ve already blown this training cycle”, but I have big goals for myself, and I know that isn’t the proper attitude to have. So, this is what I plan to do to get back on the training wagon:

1.) Get well: I know I am no use to anyone while I am sick and/or injured, so I need to get better before I jump into my runs again and potentially prolong this cold. I know I need rest rest rest (I actually napped TWICE yesterday during Emma Kate’s naps), and even though it makes me feel unproductive and sluggish, I know it’s best for me right now.

2.) Rework my training schedule: Now that I have missed several runs, there is no way I can hold the paces I am supposed to run for long runs over the next couple of weeks with the speed level I am at right now. I may take a bit longer to reach my goals now, but that doesn’t mean I have to forget about them completely.

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3.) Run!: Once I have done #1 and #2, I plan to jump back into running, knowing that I am going to have to up my game a bit and run a few extra miles and push a little bit harder. I think a couple weeks of missing some runs is ok, but if I fall off the wagon for this long again during this training cycle, it would be hard to recover. So, even on days I really don’t think I have time, I have GOT to make time and just get it done.

That is my plan of attack, and hopefully it works well for me. Now, where are my tissues and chicken noodle soup?

QOTD: What do you do when you miss several runs during training?

Jeff Galloway Tips: Dealing with the Heat

Hey friends! These tips for dealing with the heat from Jeff Galloway could not have come at a better time! We are in the middle of a serious heat wave here in the south (our daily heat index has been around 107 with high humidity) and running has been difficult. Please enjoy these tips:

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Training through the summer can not only be grueling, but down right dangerous.  Here are some tips to train safely and as comfortable as possible in the hot summer months.

Slow down by 30 sec/mile (20 sec/km) for every 5F temperature increase above 55-60F ( every 2.5C above 14C)

When the temperature is over 70F (21C) you may take a 5 minute “cold shower break” every 25-30 minutes to keep cool.

Try to complete your run before the sun rises above the horizon.

More frequent walk breaks during hot weather can lower body temperature increase.  If you used to run 3 minutes between walk breaks, run only 90 seconds (walk 30 seconds) at 70F (21C) and at 80F (26C) drop to 60 sec run/30 sec walk or 30/30

When you start to heat up more than normal, take a longer walk in a mall or indoor AC building

Pick shady courses on hot days.

Don’t wear a hat!  Pour water over your head

Have an indoor alternative—treadmill, etc

Run in the deep end of the pool, using a flotation belt

QOTD: What is your best tip for running n hot weather?

Disclosure: As a Jeff Galloway blogger I am given special tips to share with you, my readers. No compensation has been given to me.

Blogging Tools: PicMonkey

Lately I have gotten a few questions regarding photos, especially for use on Pinterest and Instagram, to help bring traffic to your blog. Since I am not an amazing photographer, I need all the editing help I can get to make my images appealing.

I have been using PicMonkey: crazy-awesome photo editing
 for years, and have found it to be the easiest to use. It also has a ton of options (even in the free version!) and the paid version is not expensive ($2.75 a month!) Below is a walk through of some of my favorite features and how I edit my photos with PicMonkey and PicMonkey Royale (the paid version).

The first thing I want to note is that right now you can get 30 days of royale for FREE right now. Try it out, see how you like it, then decide if you want to continue to pay for the service.

Ok, so when you go to the home screen, this is what you will see:

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For editing a single picture, you are mostly going to be clicking the “edit” button here. After you pic the photo you want to edit, then it brings up the editing screen with loads of options:

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Here you can auto adjust, crop, rotate, resize, change the exposure, etc. For this photo, I decided to crop it a tiny bit and bump up the sharpness. You can then hit the little wand button on the left menu bar under the crop symbol, and a whole new list of effects opens up.

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I decided to use a royale feature called “urbane” to give my photo a nice cool look.

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The next button down (on the left menu bar) looks like a tube of lipstick. If you were to have a photo that includes people, this is where you would do touch ups such as airbrush, wrinkle remover, blush, lipstick, teeth whiten, eye shadow, etc. I rarely use this one except occasionally for red eye remover. It is fun to play around with

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So moving on from there is one I use a lot, text. There are so, SO many options here. Size, color, font, placement…you pretty much can do whatever you want here. Just for an example, below is something that might go on my photo.

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Next, are the overlays (on the menu it looks like a butterfly). Depending on what my photo is going to be used for, I will use my watermark here. There are also a ton of shapes and symbols here. This is also where you can add a block in, fade it some, and put text on top of it.

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The next button down on the left menu is a picture frame. Here you can add different borders to make your photo pop. For this one I just used a basic black and white museum matte frame.

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After frames, you will find the button for textures. I decided to add a fun light trail onto this photo for a whimsical look.

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The bottom of the menu contains themes (think seasons, holidays, etc.) and I don’t use these often. After you are done, simply save your photo to your computer and you are done! Below is my finished product:

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Please note this is just a quick walkthrough, and there are SO many more things you can do, and you can get way more intricate and detailed with your text, textures, and colorings. I am still learning myself, and have found the best way to figure it out is to just get in there and play with/edit a photo. I use PicMonkey: photo editing made of win  almost daily for my blog, Instagram, and Pinterest photos, and hope you found this post helpful for upping your game (remember, people may be more likely to click on your Pinterest photo if you have words on it explaining what it’s all about!) If you have any specific questions, I would be more than happy to try to answer them for you!

Curious to learn more about the steps needed to start a blog? I can guide you through it with my FREE e-course on how to start a blog. Sign up now! 

QOTD: What photo editing program do you use?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Summer Workouts

Now that it is summer and getting unbearably hot outside here in Mississippi, my workout routine has changed quite a bit. I plan to talk about my results a little more in my body after baby 9 month post coming up in a couple weeks, but I am definitely seeing some results and doing things a lot differently.

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I have always struggled to run in the heat. Just because you live in the south doesn’t mean running in 100 degrees with 99% humidity gets any easier, you just learn to accept that it’s just the way it is. I can remember being a small child at field day at the end of the school year and getting horrible headaches from running around in the heat (and no I’m not dehydrated). Anyway, summers have always been tough for me because I am not great at getting my butt to the gym, and would prefer to workout at home on my own time. Also, I like to keep a base of 5-6 miles in the summer (ok, 6 is pushing it, I typically cap out at 5).

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So humid my sweat refuses to evaporate!

So, these facts coupled with the undeniable truth that I have been struggling to lose the last 5 pounds of baby weight led me to make some changes in my routine (I will save the eating side of things for my body after baby post). From mid December-March, I was marathon training, so I was running all the miles and eating all the foods. This got me through my race, but it didn’t do great things for my waistline. I knew something needed to change, so here is what I am now doing as far as workouts go (not food changes):

1.) Running less: Gasp! I know right? A distance runner running less, what is wrong in the universe! I know, I know. Like I said…it’s hot here. Even at 6:30 in the morning and 8:00 at night. I was getting terrible headaches and getting very frustrated in general, so I decided to cut my runs to 2-3 days a week, and my max mileage has been 5 miles at a time, and I am only doing that every 2-3 weeks with my other runs being 2-3 miles.

2.) More short, HITT and other cardio workouts: I have been randomly finding workouts on Youtube that I can do in my living room…in the air-condition. Most are between 10-20 minutes long, so I can fit them in easily during the day. My poor body is sore the next day from just those few minutes!

3.) More strength workouts: In addition to the HITT workouts I have been finding, I have also found short strength routines that target things like arms, legs, or abs. I pick one at random and do them at home as well. I have 10 pound dumb bells and an active motion bar, as well as a yoga mat. Pretty much all I have needed so far.

4.) More Walking/resting: I used to take one day off a week, but instead of that I am now taking two days off, once day of complete rest and another of active rest. I have been going for a lot of walks either at home with the dog, or early in the morning at the park with the baby. It’s a great way to get some steps in but at a more leisurely stress free pace. It mixes things up and keeps my body guessing, and it’s working for me for now.

5.) More sleep: This is a big one. When I am tired the first thing that I tend to cut out in favor of more sleep is my workout (well, I can’t really cut out work or cooking or taking care of the wee one now can I?) It isn’t always fun to go to bed at 9:00 (one day last week it was 8:45!) but even if Emma Kate wakes up at 5:45, I am still well rested enough to not skip that workout, and I just feel so much better in general.

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I know these things kind of sound like a no brainer, but for me it was actually putting them all together with some eating changes that have made the difference for me. I have only been doing this for about 3 weeks, but I can already see a difference not only physically, but in my mood and ability to get other tasks done during the day without feeling so tired. I realized I was killing myself trying to run for countless hours and doing sssooo much steady cardio with minimal results. I can’t wait to share what else I’m doing in my body after baby update! Stay tuned!

QOTD: What has been the best approach for you in the summer months when it comes to your fitness?

Packing for a Walt Disney World Trip

It’s no secret that I love traveling to Disney destinations. There is a lot of planning work involved (which is what I do for a living of course), but there is also a lot of packing involved. The climate in Florida can make packing a challenge, and depending on what you plan to do on your visit to central Florida your list may look a little different than mine. I did however want to put together a basic list of things to think about packing. I do NOT go into super great detail as far as kid and baby items because that can differ so greatly depending on the age of your kids, but hopefully this list will help get you started and think of a few things you had not thought of before.

I have broken my list down into two parts, one for items you may need in the parks, and another for items for the resort/your hotel stay. Happy packing!

For the Parks:

  • Backpack —> The easiest way to carry everything
  • Camera/charger
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen —> LOTS, and reapply!
  • Ponchos —-> For pop up showers + rides you may get wet on.
  • Water bottle —–> There are fountains in the park to refill a bottle
  • Hat/visor
  • Walking shoes —-> COMFY shoes!
  • Comfy clothes
  • Jacket —-> Even if it’s hot outside, the A/C will be blasting inside!
  • Snacks —> You may bring food into the parks, but no glass.
  • Hand sanitizer —-> bathe in it.

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Extra points for Mickey luggage!

For the Resort:

  • Phone/charger
  • Makeup
  • Toiletries —-> No hairdryer needed
  • Nicer clothes —-> For nicer dinners out
  • Swimsuit
  • Running clothes —-> for dorks like me
  • Ziplock bags —> for snacks, random loose items, etc.
  • Extra bag —-> to use as carry on you can fill with souvenirs
  • Book/magazine —-> for at the pool/on the plane
  • Garbage bag for dirty clothes —> Easiest way to transport home.
  • Toys for kids/keep busy
  • Lysol —–> We spray down the room, doorknobs, TV remote, etc.

Don’t forget, I am a Disney travel planner and would love to book your next Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise vacation for you! Email heather@travelwiththemagic.com for details.

Related: Sign up for my My Disney Experience and Magic Bands FREE E-course

QOTD: What would you add to this list? Get to packing for a Disney Trip!

Track Workouts

This post is a follow up to park one: Running track etiquette. Be sure to check that post out after you read this one!

Track workouts are not meant to be super long. As a distance runner, it’s tempting at the end of a workout that only carried you for 2.5 miles to say “I didn’t run far enough!” But remember, you are running a different kind of workout, and not everything has to be a long run to be helpful!

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Before any track workout you should warm up. I typically run 3-4 laps around the track. All of my track workouts are between 2 and 3 miles not counting warm up/cool down. After I complete my workout, I cool down with a slow jog for 1-2 laps then walk a lap.

I also recommending running a one mile time trial. You can use online pace calculators based off of your one mile time to help you know what paces you should run for other track workouts you may find.

A few things to keep in mind: a 400 is one lap around the track. Four laps equals one mile, so an 800 is two laps around the track, or 1/2 mile. If a workout calls for “3 x’s 800” that means you are running around the track two times for each of your three intervals.   Be sure to take your GPS watch with you so you can make sure you are hitting the paces you want for each interval. I also bring a water bottle and towel with me to the track.

My 4 favorite track workouts:

Yasso 800’s : Named after Bart Yasso, this is a killer workout for marathon training. Take your marathon goal time and convert the hours and minutes to minutes and seconds. For instance, if your goal is 4:45, your 800m pace (two laps) is 4 min and 45 sec. Complete a series of 3-4 of these 800’s then slowly build up until you can do up to 10 (that’s a lot, I have never done more than 4, but I don’t train for marathons often). Rest for 3-4 minutes in between each interval (slow jog).

Ladder: At your 5K race pace per mile, run 400m, 800m, 1,200m, (one lap, two laps, three laps) 800m, 400m. (two laps, one lap) Rest for 1-3 minutes between intervals. It’s better to keep a slow jog as your “rest” as opposed to standing still or walking.

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Walk the curves, run the straightaways: This one is pretty self explanatory, but is a great way to work on bursts of speed and to keep things from getting boring. As a former 100 meter dash runner, I love this workout! Start on one of the starting lines, and spring for 100 meters, then walk the next 100 (the curve) as a recovery until you get to the next straightaway. I try to complete 4-8 laps around the track. I know 1.5 miles doesn’t seem like a lot but if you are all out sprinting, trust me, your legs will be jello at the end!

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Cruise intervals: There is a great article about cruise intervals that explains your running threshold and lactic acid build up. The point of the cruise interval is not to get to where you can constantly run it faster, but to be able to run it at a certain pace and have the interval get easier/require less effort each time. It can be tempting to run as fast as you possibly can but that defeats the purpose of this workout. I run my cruise intervals at a little bit faster than my half marathon pace per mile. The key in this workout is the recovery period. Jog slowly during it, but keep it between 1-2 minutes and resist the urge to go too fast! This workout is deliberately kept at a slower pace. I do one mile cruise intervals but you can also do shorter ones as well. I complete 3 of these with 2 minute recovery jogs in between.

If you have any questions I am happy to try to answer them!

QOTD: What is your favorite track workout?

Running Track Etiquette

Since I have been running on the track more and posting track photos, I have had more than one person ask me questions about the etiquette of running at a track. I thought I would break things up into two posts, one about basic track etiquette/running, and the other about some of my favorite track/speed workouts.

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Distances: One lap around the track is 400 meters. Four laps around the track is one mile. When you hear terms such as “I ran 3 x’s 800” that means the person ran two laps around the track (800m) three times, for a total of 1.5 miles, or 6 laps.

Direction and lines: Unless stated otherwise, you should run in a counterclockwise direction around the track. You will see a lot of different markings and lines around the oval. First you will see a number in each lane for all 8 lanes, usually with some arrows. You may see a waterfall start (where the lane line for lane 2 is up a little further than lane 1, and lane 3 further than 2 and so forth.) That is because the people running in the outer lanes such as lanes 7 and 8 have much wider turns, and are covering more distance than lane one, so they start further up the track. As you run around the track you will see markings at each 100 meters. You will also see other little lines and arrows, don’t worry about those. They are exchange zones for when doing relay races.

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Availability: I run at the local high school, and I called ahead to see when the best time for us to run would be. The receptionist told us mornings are best, and that there are certain evenings that are best because track clubs and school groups (when in session) use the track in the late afternoons, and it can be kind of crowded. However, I have run on the track when there is a lot going on and never had a problem. For instance, yesterday morning the football team was practicing on the infield and there were a couple of other runners sharing lanes with me. You may also want to ask about bathrooms. I know the facilities at our local track are locked in the summer, so I make sure to go before I leave the house.

Lane usage: This one really depends. If there is no one else on the track, I will use lanes one and two. However, if there are other people I stick to the middle or outer lanes to allow super fast runners and people doing speed work to have lane one. Just make sure if you start in an outer lane you use the waterfall start and start up where the number of that lane is, otherwise you will be running longer than 400 meters to go once around the track! (I really hope that makes sense, if it doesn’t please let me know and I will try to think of a better way to explain.)

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In the above photo of me running, you will see I am in lane one, just behind the number one. If I was to start running a 400 (one lap) in lane one, I would start right at the little line above the number one. You can see how the number go up the track as the lanes go out. If you start in a further up lane you would finish where the lane one line is, not go all the way up to where the line is in the lane you started in.

Etiquette: You should pass someone on the right if you are both in lane one. As to not scare someone I say something like “on your right” or “coming up behind you”. If you hear someone yell “track!” look around you, because someone may be able to come barreling through in your lane and they want you to move over! This is why I typically stick to the middle or outer lanes unless I am the only one using the track. It is one of the reasons you should be mindful of wearing headphones to a track as well. Either don’t use them or keep one earpiece out for everyone’s safety.

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Be aware of your surroundings, like a random hurdle in lane 3.

Also be careful to never step onto a track without looking. Someone could be sprinting in lane one and you could walk right into them. Another thing to remember is if you are say running a 400, don’t just stop completely as you cross the finish or change lanes/walk off the track at the finish without looking. Someone else could be coming through the line and you walk right into their lane. I always do my cool down and warm up in an outside lane just to be safe and sure I am out of other people’s way.

I know this sounds like a lot of information and kind of intimidating, but once you get out there and just DO IT you will realize that you are just fine! It takes practice just like everything else, but do not be afraid to workout at your local track! It’s a shared, big enough space that many people can enjoy it at the same time. Please let me know if you have any questions, I am happy to help answer the best I can.

QOTD: Do you run at a local track? Speed work somewhere else?