Foam Rolling – A Love/Hate Relationship

Ok guys since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner I thought I would tell you a little about this 2+ year committed relationship I’ve been in.

It’s been a long road for us and it hasn’t always been easy. I’ll be honest – sometimes I dread the time we spend together but even the best relationships have their rough patches, right? But through it all, the good times and the bad, this relationship has helped me heal through the worst of it and is always there to support me just when I need it most…. I’m talking of course about my foam roller.

If you’re a runner and you don’t have a foam roller whaaaat are you doing? Go out and buy one now. Right now. Go on I’ll wait…got one? Ok now let’s talk…

Foam rolling can be a life (and leg) saver when your a runner. It helps increase the bloodtp-grid-1-0-fm-roller-pink flow, improving the delivery of well needed oxygen to your muscles during your workouts and helps to relief muscle tension for those sore tired legs post workout. Foam rolling can also help stretch out and lengthen your muscles and decrease recovery time. I personally use my foam roller after every single run and sometimes before a run if i’m feeling especially tight.

Now you know the benefits of foam rolling – how do you pick one?

Foam rollers come in all shapes, sizes and densities and it can be tough to pick one that is right for you. So let’s break it down: The longer the roller the easier it is to use on larger areas (vertically) like your back. *Pro Tip – the longer rollers can also be great for doing ab/core workouts as well. Foam-Roller-Sizes
The smaller the foam roller the easier it is to target smaller areas like your thighs or calves.

As for density, the more dense the foam roller is the more intense the pressure is when your rolling. Some prefer having one, two or even three rollers in their collection depending on the area your rolling. Some runners find that a dense roller can be just too much pressure for certain areas.

So you’ve found your perfect match – now how do you use it?

As a runner I always work out my hip flexors, IT band, hamstrings, glutes and calves but adjust my plan depending on what my body needs. The roller can be great for the upper body and relieving tension in back as well. If your looking for a place to start, there are lots of great resources out there, like this article/video collection from Runner’s World, to help you start rolling.

Just remember that rolling is meant for recovery, not to treat an injury. Keep the rolling slow and controlled and don’t roll over the point of pain but around it instead. For example, with IT pain, it’s best to roll the muscles that attach to your IT band (your gluteus maximus and your tensor fasciae latae along the edge of your hip) rather than the IT band itself.

Foam rolling doesn’t always feel fantastic but can bebcc19a84cffd3e76cefececf8d29769033a4f4efb51f337862e3cc2acc69162f likened to a “good kind of hurt”.  Its ok to work out those pesky knots, but if you spend too long on the same area you might end up doing more damage to the tissue than good. Spending about 20-30 seconds on a sore spot before moving onto the next is a good rule of thumb. Just remember that some mild discomfort is good but you shouldn’t be in any real pain.

Like many, I feel as though my relationship with the foam roller is a complicated one. A love/hate relationship if you will. It has become a big part of my running and recovery routine and I really couldn’t picture my life without it. It just hurts so good.

How do you roll? Share your foam roller tips and experiences in the comments below!

RunDisney Costume Tips

One of my favorite things about RunDisney weekends is seeing all the great outfits runners are wearing and seeing all that creativity out on the course. There is nothing better than getting dressed up as your favorite Disney character and really getting into the spirit of the event. Here are some great costume tips for your next RunDisney race:

Have a plan

Start by figuring out who or what you want to run as. It doesn’t always have to be a character from a Disney movie – it could be something inspired by your favorite image2Disney attraction or an element of the Disney parks that you love (Dole Whip anyone?).

It doesn’t have to be an elaborate costume either – something as simple as taking the color palette from a favorite character and applying it to your outfit is a great alternative to a full on costume. A yellow sparkle skirt (or running shorts), a navy blue tech shirt and a red headband can make a great Snow White inspired outfit.

You don’t have to be a seamstress to make a great costume either. I am terrible with a sewing machine so I used a lot of iron on heat bond (double sided adhesive) to add image1elements to my costume. I even resorted to drawing on one of my sparkle skirts with colored sharpies to get the look I wanted.

Don’t forget to plan your costume around the weather or have alternatives in mind – just in case. In 2015 I ran the WDW Half Marathon as Daisy Duck. I had planned to wear just a tank top and my usual running shorts under my sparkle skirt but due to the cooler weather I switched out at the last minute to a running t-shirt and yellow running tights for more coverage and to help keep me a little warmer.

Dress for Comfort

As fun as it is to dress up for these races just remember that you still have to run in them. 12239432_10153134097741283_6879257975705907012_oTake the distance into consideration and ask yourself if you would really be comfortable enough to run for hours (in the case of a half or full marathon) in what you’ve chosen. I always build my race costumes and outfits around pieces of clothing made out of moisture wicking tech material which brings me to the next important tip…

Take it for a test run

I always take my running costumes for a test run. There is nothing worse than finding out half way through your race that your super cute shirt chafes your arms or those shorts you thought would be perfect for your outfit constantly ride up and drive you crazy. Now you may get some strange looks running around your neighborhood wearing a tutu or sparkly skirt (or even Tinkerbell wings) but it will be so worth it to know ahead of time if you’re going to have any issues on race day.

Know the Rules

As of January 6th 2016, RunDisney implemented some changes to their costume and security policies – they can be found here. For your safety, and the safety of other runners on the course, have a quick read before you pack your suitcase just to make sure your costume meets these requirements. You don’t want to have pieces of your costume confiscated, or worse, be removed from the course for not complying with the new guidelines.

Take photos and have fun!

Now that you look awesome and your running your first (or 10th) RunDisney event have fun and take lots of photos to commemorate the race! If you’re running as one of the princess stop for a picture in front of the castle doing your best princess pose.

If you’re running as your favorite Haunted Mansion character stop for a picture in front of the Mansion. If you’re running as Snow White get a photo with the Evil Queen – the options are endless.

Another great perk of running in costume is all the fantastic people you meet on the course. In almost every race I run I make a new running buddy (or two, or three) just from striking up conversations over our costumes. Even the crowds get in on the fun! When I ran my first marathon as Wonder Woman it was such a motivation to hear the crowds shouting “Go Wonder Woman!”.

Are you planning on running your next race in costume? What are some of your favorite costume ideas you’ve seen? Sound off in the comments below…