Monthly Archives: August 2016

Here’s Why You CAN Run a Race

We’ve all been there – that point in your day where you present yourself with the choice to get up and out for some exercise, or bury your bum into the couch to continue your latest binge-watching obsession. Those first steps can be the most difficult, but once you commit, your body and mind will thank you for it!

A great way to help push yourself off the couch and into your running shoes is to sign up for a race. Regardless of age, size, body type, or any other variable we all may have used as an excuse in the past, running (or walking, or jogging) a race is something any able-bodied person can do (more: see ‘How to Run Your First 5K). From improved physical fitness and mental health to getting some vitamin D and fresh air outdoors, take advantage of the insane benefits that come with the running territory, no matter what level a runner you are.

Goals

Setting a goal with a deadline can be helpful to keep you motivated. Maybe you want to enjoy more of the outdoors and try something new to get in shape. Perhaps you’re pumped to start training for your first race. Whatever your individual purpose may be, have a clearly defined goal in mind to help keep you on track for accomplishing what you set out to do. For example, a goal could be to have 10 miles under your belt by your fourth week of training, or being able to run 15 minutes straight by week 8.

Motivation

Getting motivated enough to take those first few strides is often the hardest part for us self-proclaimed “non-runners”. Once you’re up and moving, that initial sense of accomplishment makes it easier to keep going. There are plenty of different things you can try to boost your level of motivation; the key is to find what works best for your unique self.

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Having a running buddy might jolt your motivation, or maybe you’d prefer runs to be your “alone time” to decompress. You might want to map out an exact route or let the road take you where it will. Podcasts may be your go-to for runs instead of upbeat jams, or perhaps you’ll find skipping audio altogether suits you best. Trial and error will be key here, so take the time to find what sets you up for success.

Resources

There are oodles of running resources out there for every level of runner, including those new to the activity and eager to learn the basics. From getting your technique down and improving your breathing to meal planning and helpful training apps, there is a sea of running assets geared toward beginners for you to take advantage of.

Be sure to keep your overall goals in the forefront of your mind when doing your research. The vast amount of tips and tricks out there can be overwhelming, so having your main objectives clearly outlined will help you stay focused on finding tools that will help you accomplish your specific goals.

Support

An excellent way to keep yourself driven and motivated until you cross that sweet finish line is to have a support system in place. When you begin training, keep those close to you in the loop on how you’re progressing, and let them know you will need their encouragement throughout the process. Sign up for your local programs, like Red River Runners, for group runs that will help you keep yourself accountable and introduce you to a team of fellow runners rooting for you.

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Come race day, it can also be a huge moral boost to have loved ones cheering you on throughout the course. If your support system is new to the running culture, share these tips for race day cheering to help get them started. Plan to go solo to the event? Not to worry! One of the most empowering aspects of a racecourse is the crowd of strangers yelling for you every step of the way – it’s an exhilarating feeling that keeps you going the distance.

Self Love

Perhaps the most important ingredient to remember is to show yourself some much-needed love and appreciation. Be patient, and have a healthy sense of humor at the beginning of your running journey. After all, this is ultimately about improving yourself, which takes time and practice.

We sometimes get busy with our daily lives and forget to put ourselves first. Taking time out of your day to better yourself is no easy feat, and that deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Be mindful of your accomplishments and take a moment to thank your body for its hard work – and thank yourself for showing up. When you cross that finish line, it will all be well worth it.

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Pumped to get started? Check out the Grand Forks Marathon coming up on September 23rd-24th and sign up for the race of your choosing. Whether you want to run solo in the Friday night 5K, tackle the full marathon, or get a group of up to 13 together for a relay team, you’re sure to find a race that will be the perfect push to help get you up and moving.

 

4 Keys to Creating a Killer Marketing Strategy

When it comes to executing a killer marketing strategy, the multitude of moving pieces to consider can be daunting. From logo design and printed collateral material to website development, social media platforms and everything in between, the details are enough to make your head spin.

Having a solid, goal-oriented marketing strategy in place helps to keep all of these components organized, while serving as a roadmap of where you’re going and how to accomplish getting there.

Whether you’re a new start-up developing a plan from the ground up or an established company in need of a refresh, everyone can benefit from these tips to focus on exactly who your business is and how to achieve its goals. With fresh eyes and an open mind, let’s dive into some keys of executing a marketing plan to get your strategy on point.

Define Your Vision

Have a clear, concise understanding of exactly what the vision for your brand is, how it enriches the lives of your customers, and why consumers should choose your company over a competitor. Defining this before attempting to develop a plan is crucial. With the core purpose of your business continually the focal point, you’ll have answers to questions before they arise, making crafting your strategy immensely easier.

This rings true for new and established business alike. A new business must institute the core or vision for its brand in order to properly present itself to the world. Established businesses also need to be mindful of their strategies to maintain focus on their roots, or sometimes reinvigorate their business with a new direction to keep up with the times. Every company is unique, and its marketing strategy should reflect that.

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Get Proactive

Once your vision is clearly defined and your company’s marketing plan is outlined, you can start putting your plans into action. Be proactive about getting ahead of tasks and working your strategy to get the most out of your marketing efforts.

Things like securing your website URL, determining your optimal mediums, building a solid image library, creating fresh content, and establishing your presence on social media are just a few pieces to put into action to help get the ball rolling. Have a clear plan of what needs to be accomplished, deadlines to abide by, research to conduct, and which person is in charge of what tasks to keep everyone accountable and productive.

Maintenance Is Key

Now that you’ve established your plan, put it into motion, and started checking things off your list, you should be set…right? Not the case. Marketing strategies need to be continually nurtured. Your dedication to the company’s vision and hard work to create a killer marketing strategy will have been all for nothing if the plan is not constantly in motion.

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It is vital to remember that this is an evolving process and needs a lot of TLC to get the absolute most out of your efforts. Be flexible and open-minded with your strategy, allowing adjustments as needed to keep up with the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of marketing to accomplish your overall goals.

Patience is a Virtue

Good things come to those who wait (and work), and that is the exact case when it comes to successful marketing plans. There are no shortcuts and fast tracks in marketing – this is a long-term strategy that requires commitment to your vision and patience to see it through.

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An important piece of the pie to remember is that everything does not have to be done all at once. At Stray Media Group, we oftentimes work with customers to build out their plans in phases to accommodate things like timelines and budget. If you don’t have the budget to cover everything you want to accomplish right away, let us help guide you in determining what you need right now to begin achieving your goals and growing your business.

Not sure where to start? If you’re a do-it-yourself type, an excellent resource to check out and get the gears turning is the ‘Start With Why’ book and TED Talks video by Simon Sinek, providing a powerful model to put into place that inspires action. More of a leave-it-to-the-experts type? Contact a marketing professional for advice and assistance in building a complete strategy tailored to your needs.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Supporting Your Favorite Runner

Do you have a friend or loved one who has the courage to call him- or herself a runner? If you are lucky enough to have people in your life with the determination and confidence to tell the world they are runners, we want to share with you some ways to encourage and inspire them, as well as a few ways you may unknowingly be ‘ruffling their tail feathers.’ Below is a list of things NOT to say to the runner in your life, and some words of encouragement that their hard work deserves instead!

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DON’T

Did you walk at all? – Running is hard work and walking is totally acceptable in any race you may compete in. It doesn’t affect whether or not we finish.

DO

The weather was [cold, hot, windy] today; were you feeling good? – Conditions can make a dramatic difference in a runner’s race plan, so can how they slept or felt physically on race day. Acknowledging these hurdles shows a lot of understanding and support.

DON’T

Did you win? – We run to finish. Most of us are not professional runners.

DO

I’m so proud of you for finishing! – Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and to finish is to win; you could say, “That took a lot of courage and determination and I’m proud of you!”

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DON’T

Running is hard on your body. – You know your body better than anyone else, and we know our own just the same.

DO

Wow, I’m so impressed with your commitment to fitness! – Whether running a race, preparing with daily training sessions, or taking a cross training approach, anyone who signs up for an organized event has worked hard to get where they are.

DON’T

I could never run a marathon. – Anyone can run a marathon if they try. With some training. We promise. In a world of naysayers, at least be an encourager.

DO

You just ran a marathon! – It also goes for a 5k, 10k, half marathon, etc. The point is, whatever your favorite runner trained for and competed in, they spent time and effort to do it. The focus should be on their accomplishment.

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DON’T

Can’t you skip your run today? – Running is part of who we are. It’s part of our sleeping, breathing, and basic functioning. It is a part of who all runners are, so no, we cannot and will not skip our run today.

DO

You are so dedicated, or How can I help you fit in your run? – Depending on how well you know the runner, you may be able to help them stay on track by relieving them of a small responsibility that might make their running schedule difficult to maintain. Don’t know them well enough to help? Then just encourage or work around their training schedule because you know it’s important to them.

DON’T

You don’t look like a runner. – If you run, you are a runner. No body type, dress code, or age required.

DO

You look like a runner! – Runners come in ALL shapes, sizes, and ages, and run all different speeds as well as distances. We don’t want to look at the differences but the similarities; they all trained hard and stepped out of their comfort zone to make it to race day.

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DON’T

You’re running on the wrong side of the road. – Runner’s etiquette says to run on the left side of the road, so we are able to see and avoid traffic if necessary. We also tend to avoid sidewalks, because they are generally made of concrete and the asphalt of the road is much easier on our joints while we are ‘pounding pavement.’

DO

I found you a great new trail! – The monotony of training for a race can lead to a great deal of boredom on those daily runs. A new trail, course, or scenery can be a real pick-me-up to a runner. So keep your eyes open for a path, trail, or not-so-busy road you might suggest.

DON’T

Wow! You sure can eat! – Food is fuel and that’s how we have the ability to go as far as we do. A good long run will stir up a bout of hunger in a hurry!

DO

You earned a good meal, let’s go out, or can I cook you something? – Encourage and support the refueling of a runner, especially as they get closer to a long-distance race. Even runners feel bad about eating sometimes and need to be reminded of the ‘food is fuel’ fact.

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DON’T

So, you’re a jogger then? – For many of us running is about the passion and love we have for the activity. No matter how fast or slow we are going, we are lapping everyone that is still sitting on the couch. Just because their pace may be slower, never, never call someone a jogger. It’s demeaning to the effort and hard work they have put into this great sport.

DO

How was your run? – Training for a race is hard work, and it takes a tremendous amount of dedication and sacrifice that many will never understand. Runners in training love to talk, and sometimes even need to talk about their most recent run, so take a minute to listen; it means a lot.

DON’T

Running sucks. – Sometimes yes, even we think it sucks, but most of the time we love every calorie-burning minute of it. And that is why we get back out there day after day.

DO

You are inspiring! – Pushing oneself to a goal is not easy, especially a physically demanding one like running. It also takes a mental toughness that not everyone is ready to exert.

Encouragement from those around runners can be what gets us over a slump in training, or keeps us going on miles 11 and 18 come race day. You are an important part of the mix – any runner you know will benefit from your support; it’s one of the pieces we appreciate and need most when we feel negative. Do you love a runner or want to support some great ones? Come out to the Grand Forks Marathon and cheer on the athletes September 23rd and 24th, or if you’re feeling crazy, why not be a runner and sign up for one of the races yourself or with a relay team!

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