An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


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/


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


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/


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An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


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/


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


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/


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An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


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/


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


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/


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An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


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/


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

  ·  5 min

An Interview with Lou Alexander of Big A88 Jogger

We sat down with Lou Alexander, CEO and Founder of Big A88 Jogger and former NFL Athlete, to learn more about his new company (founded on March 27th, 2020) and how he transitioned from a Pro Football Career into jogging and apparel. RockMyRun: What is Big A88 Jogger? How did it start?Lou Alexander: What started off as a joke on social media, I started to incorporate jogging into my workouts. Soon it began to pick up steam, with a community of like minded individuals that were looking to get better and find a way to work out during the Covid-19 pandemic.As a former NFL athlete I have always pushed inspiration and motivation to the individuals that needed it the most. Also, showing the process of how I lost 100lbs gave others hope that they too can achieve monumental health goals also. Our appeal is not only for style and having the best “Swagg” it’s for empowering the masses. We inspire and motivate through action and accountability.The Big A88 Jogger apparel/movement has a mission to help you drive towards finding your true self and achieving greatness at the BIGGEST level. RMR:What was your athletic highlight?My athletic highlight was making it to The NFL. It was always a dream to see my name on the back of a NFL jersey, I’ve only dreamed of that. It was amazing that I was able to accomplish that goal.RMR: When you were in the NFL, what was your daily exercise routine? What is it now?LA: My day in the NFL started at 6:00am with breakfast followed by watching a film. By 8am I was getting ready for the weight room, and during the prep for workout, music was blasting in my headphones. By 10:30 the workout was complete, and I was off to the last film session before lunch and practice at 2pm. Once practice started at 2 it was go time, I would always attempt to hype everyone up, appreciating the opportunity to play a sport I loved. Once practice was over it was recovery, food and sleep following! Long but rewarding. RMR: What is the relationship between your football background and your experience with jogging?LA: Jogging was never the first choice. With football I was always conditioned to do movements that help develop explosion, lateral quickness and strength. But after retiring I noticed a huge mental advantage from jogging. There is a certain level of happiness that comes over you as you’re on the jogging journey or completing the task. Jogging took the forefront for me because it changed my life forever physically and mentally and I push that to the world daily.RMR: What would be your advice to other athletes (like football players) about getting into jogging?LA: The advice I will offer to all my fellow athletes I’ve played with and others, is that Jogging not only has a huge amount of health benefits, it’s also a mind healer. As athletes we look for other forms of meditation but often time sitting stationary in Zen can become challenging due to our high tempo nature. Turning on music and jogging gives you a form of movement meditation and allows so much of your brain to open up. The possibilities are endless. Jogging helps with post-career uncertainty by keeping competition in your life. There is nothing like improving your pace time every run!RMR: Running is typically a solitary sport, what is the importance or benefits of a running community?LA: A running community, allows everyone to drive towards the same goal; that’s finishing. It also ensures encouragement. No man or woman left behind mentality. Jogging communities drive change and unifies all walks of life. Race,creed and economic status does not matter. All that matters is the movement. RMR: What is your experience with RockMyRun? How did you discover it? How do you use it now?LA: My longtime college friend reached out to me about RockMyRun. He noticed the community of joggers I was building and sent me a video of this cool app. I was instantly intrigued when I heard the music selection and also the playlist that are pre-set for your preference. Anyone that knows me, understands that music is my favorite pastime, and having an app that goes on the jogging journey with me with Soul, 80s hits, Hip Hop and R&B I am all for it! I use RockMyRun during every jog. I am a huge believer of the app and I am looking forward to sharing it with others!RMR: How does music affect your exercise routine?LA: Music is a must have during a jog. Tempo and the beat of the song uplift you and sparks a good mood. Also, for those who don’t like dancing it’s a happy act; so try it, or dance in your mind while you run. Don’t be surprised if you're roaming the street and you catch the BIG A88 JOGGER dancin! I love music and being happy. RMR: What's your favorite song to run to?LA: That’s a tough one! I would say currently I like “Just don’t waste my time” by Usher and Ella Mae RMR: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?There are so many people looking for the silver bullet around how to achieve their goals when you see them as being so far away. I reference jogging to bridge a perspective. I say that when I’m running, it’s with the set intentions that this is a process, it may take me 20 minutes to complete or 15 minutes but it’s not instant. There is terrain that goes from incline to decline, turns on different streets, etc... But the journey is worth it once you complete it. Never look for success instantly; if you didn’t have to work hard, it will not last. Same with jogging. If you don’t work hard at it, you will never know what achievement feels like. To learn more about Lou Alexander or Big A88 Jogger, check out his website biga88jogger.com 


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

  ·  8 min

5 Steps for Setting up a Home Gym

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common barriers to regular physical activity are lack of time, lack of motivation and weather conditions. These are barriers that everyone has encountered at one point or another when trying to establish a regular exercise routine, and finding a solution is easier said than done! After having my first baby, ending my soccer career after tearing my ACL (for the fourth time!), moving to Colorado (a state that has cooler weather for half of the year), and facing the new challenges associated with coronavirus, I was determined to establish a workout routine that meshed well with my lifestyle. I am happy to report I have found a routine that is efficient, fun and keeps me in shape! The key to this routine is simple: create a home gym. It sounds intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either! In this post I will outline 5 steps for bringing the gym to your living space.  How to Create a Home Gym Step #1: Identify Where You Plan to do Your WorkoutsThe first step to creating a home gym is identifying your space. This can be the most limiting factor, so you want to do this first. Maybe you have a lot of available space, and maybe you live in a shoebox in San Francisco! Think about the types of exercises you want to be able to do and where you have the proper space to do those activities. Note: You may have to get creative and modify your activities based on space available. Fortunately for me, I had 800 sq ft of basement storage space that was only partially being used. My husband and I decided to section off 300 sq ft for storage and use the remaining 500 sq ft of empty, concrete space to build out our home gym.  Step #2: Decide What Types of Exercises you Want to do and the Equipment NeededIn order to decide what exercises you plan to do, it’s a good idea to outline your exercise goals - a step within a step! The home exercises you identify should be aligned with your workout goals, and they will vary significantly from individual to individual. My main workout goals, for example, are to maintain my cardiovascular fitness with middle-distance interval training (2x per week), build/tone my muscles (3x per week) and have fun. Based on my goals, I identified running, biking, weightlifting and freeweight/bodyweight (circuit-style) exercises as workout activities I wanted to be able to do from home. With that in mind, I came up with a list of exercise equipment that would enable me to do my desired workout activities in my home: a treadmill, a spin bike, a lifting machine (e.g., Bowflex, folding squat rack), free weights, a suspension band, an aerobic stepper, medicine balls, and a stability disc/ball. Nearly all of my workout goals can be achieved using this lifting cage and free weights, and it doesn't take up too much space! Though I did have to be willing to pay for it.Your home gym doesn’t need to have as much equipment as mine. For example, you may not need both a spin bike and a treadmill, and free weights may be all you need (so no lifting machine) - it all comes down to what you want and what you can work into your space.  Step #3: Get the Equipment You NeedBefore you grab your phone and start tapping the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, determine a budget for getting your home gym started. Once you have a general budget in mind, you can start prioritizing what equipment you want to get first based on factors like price, size and what is most important for helping you achieve your fitness goals. My first purchases were a treadmill and an exercise bike since I heavily prioritize my cardiovascular fitness and sometimes I need to switch between high impact and low impact exercises to give my knee a break. I was able to get a very lightly used Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill on Offer Up for $500 (I won’t mention that I had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive through snowy roads to pick it up!). I purchased  MEVEM Indoor Cycling Bike, since I only wanted a basic bike that had a display monitor and could “do the job.”I love being able to model healthy behavior for my son!The next purchase was a TRX Home2 System. I had not done any weightlifting in a long time and I wanted to progress back into it, so I figured a TRX band would be great. The suspension band can be used anywhere, doesn’t take up much space, and it utilizes body weight to give the user a total-body workout. It proved to be an excellent way for me to progress back into weightlifting.The moment you begin researching weightlifting equipment, you’ll notice some of the machines are very expensive and there are endless machines that serve different purposes. My husband and I spent multiple weeks looking at different options, mostly the more all-inclusive options to save on space. We started looking at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, but then we decided we wanted to be able to do more than resistance training. Next we had our eyes on a PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar and other add ons because it would help conserve space yet provide the flexibility to do cross-functional fitness exercises, Olympic Weights, MMA etc. The PRO Squat Rack and other add ons ended up being on backorder, and it still didn’t seem like the one-stop-shop we were looking for.My husband and I the night we had our fully-loaded Tuff Stuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble installed. We were so excited to get in our first workout in our home gym!Alas, we decided to take a trip to a fitness warehouse where we could get a more comprehensive idea of the gamut of fitness equipment and speak with people who know fitness equipment. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it! My husband and I made a trip to the Fitness Gallery (a.k.a. Disneyland of fitness equipment) in Denver, CO. We left with a big hit to our bank account, but we ended up getting equipment (i.e., TuffStuff Smith Machine Half Cage Ensemble with all the add ons, Aerobics Stepper, Bosu ball, Medicine Balls, and free weights 5-25 pounds) that will help us maintain our health for years to come. As mentioned, the equipment you get will depend on a variety of factors, but I recommend you spend time doing your research! Step #4: Build the Gym!The “If You Build It, They Will Come” line from the Field of Dreams movie actually applied in this case. Though it took a number of weeks before we had a usable gym. In addition to getting all the exercise equipment, we had to buy cases and cases of ½ EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles to put on top of the concrete surface of our designated gym area. In certain areas my husband used a circular saw and some cardboard boxes to cut the tiles so they would fit tightly against the walls. The interval training side of our gym! Note: the TV is always on during treadmill runs and biking workouts.Earlier I mentioned having fun as being one of my exercise goals. To make exercise more enjoyable, I like distracting myself by watching TV with subtitles and listening to good music. We found a 43” Roku TV and a SANUS Full-Motion TV Mount at a very affordable price from Costco. To get the beats bumping in the gym, we installed Polk speakers and play music through our 7-channel receiver. Of course RockMyRun is our music app of choice!A nice-to-have we added is a divider curtain to section off our storage space from our gym. Step #5: Come up with a Program and Stick to It. Change it up When it Makes Sense!It has been three months since my husband and I set up our home gym, and we have been consistently using the gym 3-4 times per week. How did we create this habit, you ask?We designed an A-B-A lifting program based on this core program with some additional exercises added, printed out workout log sheets, and we have stuck to it! One of the biggest motivators has been being able to visualize our progress week over week. We also add new exercises and swap out exercises from time-to-time, plus alternate our strength days with cardio days. Two tips I highly recommend! Hers and his workout logs. Yes, we intentionally bought pens that matched our clipboards!Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how you can incorporate workouts into your living space to help you combat some of the most common barriers to physical activity. If you have a gym in your home, you have no excuse for not working out! You can’t say you don’t have time or it’s too cold outside. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment with a minimal budget or a palace with no budget, you can still get creative and design something that works for you! About the Author Katie Addison is the Chief Operating Officer for Rock My World, Inc. and oversees the RockMyRun product. She lives a very active lifestyle, having played soccer since she was six. Due to experiencing multiple ACL tears while playing college soccer at Stanford University and Florida State University, Katie has had to modify some of her exercise activities. Katie, her husband, and her 1-yr-old son enjoy hikes in the scenic Denver area along with bumping RockMyRun beats while they work out in their home gym.


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

  ·  5 min

Fall/Winter Running Training Tips and Tricks

With the colder temperatures setting in, sometimes our motivation to get out the door for our daily runs can be a STRUGGLE! It can be hard to leave the comfort of our warm homes, and brave the elements outside. But as a competitive marathoner myself, I have actually found that not only are these chillier seasons my favorite times to train, but also, I tend to get in my best running shape!This post will give you 5 insider tips and tricks for getting out there in the cold, running fast, and staying fit!  1. How to Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm When Running in the Fall or Winter Having the right workout gear can make a world of difference when training in colder temperatures. My minimum running temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s 20 degrees or higher, be brave and run outside! If it’s colder than that, you may want to find a treadmill or gym for some indoor activities. Depends how tough you are!My biggest issue is how to keep my hands and feet warm, but my secret is Hot Hands Hand and Toe Warmers! They are lifesavers! Additionally, when it’s below 30 degrees, I prefer mittens over gloves because they keep my extremities a lot warmer. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nike Transform Mittens and if it’s above 30 degrees I like the North Face Women's Tip Gloves.Socks are also really important: I recommend any SmartWool socks, as well as Feetures Merino. 2. Stay Hydrated When Running in the Cold Although it seems like you aren’t as thirsty in the colder winter months, it is still crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly and its detrimental effects can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Staying hydrated during the summer months can sometimes be easier than in the winter because people tend to get less thirsty and sweat less; however, your body loses moisture all day, every day, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and bodily function. When I’m cold and not in the mood to constantly be sipping on water, I like to hydrate with decaffeinated tea. If you’re a fellow coffee-lover, that is great to drink as well, but just remember that caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate you, so try drinking a glass of water for every cup of joe. 3. Do Your Warm-Up Routine InsideNobody likes the feeling of the harsh, cold air as you step outside your door at 5am to get that morning run in, so to lessen the pain of that, do your warm-up or pre-hab exercises indoors! Not only will this start warming up your body temperature and make the cold feel less jarring, it will also help prevent injuries. When you start a run cold, your muscles are cold, which means they are more susceptible to tearing or straining. By warming up indoors, you are giving your body the time to warm-up that it needs, so when you do start your run, you will be ready to jump right in and get moving! 4. Take a Hot Shower/Bath After Your RunThis sounds silly, but in all seriousness, knowing you have a hot shower/bath waiting for you as soon as you finish is many times what gets me out the door! An added bonus would be to add Epsom salt to your bath. Epsom salts are known to help lessen soreness/pain, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery to help rejuvenate your muscles. Most of the benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that most people do not get enough of, which is known to help in both sleep and stress management. Typically you can find Epsom salt in most drug/grocery stores in the pharmacy area. An added bonus to taking a bath is that being submerged in warm water will dilate your blood vessels allowing for a speedier recovery via blood transportation. And if you’re that person saying you don’t have time for this, well guess what? You should be stretching for at least 10 minutes after a run anyway, and where is a better place to stretch than in a hot bath or shower?! When your muscles are warm is an ideal time to be stretching, and additionally, you can take the time to relax your mind and get ready for the day ahead.  5. Commit to a Race or a GoalI have found that many times the hardest aspect of running is the mental component. I believe that running is 98% physical and 2% mental, BUT it’s that 2% that controls the 98%. If you don’t have the right mindset, you will never get the most out of yourself. During the cold, winter months it can be hard to stay motivated and mentally strong, but one thing that makes a big difference is having something to train for. Whether it’s a race, (virtual race these days), or even just a goal you have set for yourself, having something specific to train for is a great way to stay motivated and give you that extra push on those inevitable days when you just want to hit snooze.  Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will allow you to get out the door and brave the elements! A lot of times it’s the first 5 minutes that are the hardest, so stay with it! Once you get moving and warm up, it will be worth it! And who knows, maybe you’ll even have some fun along the way! :)  About the Author 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. 


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 yo