When you think ultramarathon, what often comes to mind is crazy long distances, rugged terrain, ascents and descents (elevation gain, maybe?), varied weather, aid stations, camaraderie, and a massive sense of accomplishment. An ultramarathon shoe is a tool and a very important one at that, that must be tried and tested in training so the runner can rely on it on race day. It has to endure the weather, terrain, and distances. Trail-running is a sport is becoming increasingly popular (especially in light of recent world events), so I thought this may be a good post to explore as the running community expands. In no particular order, I’ve looked at a few popular long-distance, ultra-marathon running specific footwear (trail ultras) – the tech, the fit, and the cost-point.
Consider what terrain you’ll be spending a significant amount of time on, the distance covered, and potential weather conditions. Why? Because you’ll need to consider the sole and materials of the shoe, so they best suit the conditions. Personally, I like a shoe that works well in mud, on rocks and sandstone escarpments (where I run in Australia has a ton of this) and sand. I also like a sole where I don’t feel sharper surfaces or rocks putting pressure on the bottom of my feet and metatarsals.
Shoe 1: Hoka One One Speedgoat 4
In the trail and ultra community, this is a well-loved shoe. Having taken a pair for a spin myself, I really enjoyed how it felt like a true ‘race’ trail shoe. Lightweight, well-cushioned, and responsive. The sole isn’t overly aggressive either, so you can run a variety of trail terrain in them. However, the mid-sole of the shoe is particularly thick, so if you like that close to ground contact, and to really feel the heel-to-toe push off, this may not be the shoe for you. After all, Hoka are known for their cushioned shoes, with the rocker feature. If you know your trail shoes, you shouldn’t be surprised about this! The sole is Vibram, with excellent traction/grip- so it does work well on the trails.
The stability is more on the neutral side, as to be expected from a trail shoe. This allows for better traction and responsiveness on uneven ground and reduces the risk of a dreaded sprained ankle. One thing I did notice about this shoe, is it is better suited for a narrow foot, such as my own. I struggled to find a trail shoe that fits as well as the Speedgoat did. It does fit true to size and width, from the description.
This shoe has a heel drop of 4mm and weighs around 9.2 ounces for women, 10.8 for men.
This is also a highly-discussed and popular shoe in the trail-running world. Salomon promotes this as their ultramarathon specific shoe. Being the 2nd generation model, Salomon has had some time to up the game on the technical features. According to their website, they have improved the weight of the shoe, the durability and kept all the comfort features onboard. The shoe, in essence, retains its speedy trail race purpose. Salomon is known for making shoes that are durable and can deal with almost all terrain. Mud, snow, sand, tree-roots, wood-chips – you name it. The midsole is made of long-lasting polyurethane foam, which Salomon describes as ideal for ultra-running. Their outsole is made of what they term their ‘premium Wet Traction Contragrip’. Since it is a trail-racing designed shoe, I have read from reviews that it generally doesn’t last as long as others, especially if it has been put through the trials of an ultramarathon, or training for one.
Saucony promotes this as one of their best trail-running shoes, perfect for uneven and varied terrain, climbing, and descending. It is a neutral shoe, as per most trail running shoes, and is cushioned so they have comfort but still retain that responsive edge. This shoe is great for rocky terrain. Saucony has integrated a rock plate into the sole of the shoe, so you’ll be right on sharper stone surfaces. Further, the outsole has been made to work well in tough conditions that promote wear and tear. Some reviews have said the shoe is quite flexible and therefore is very responsive. Make sure to break this shoe in before you use it for longer runs, including an ultramarathon.
This shoe weighs 10.7 ounces for men (303g) and 9.3oz for women (264g), and has a 4mm heel-to-toe drop. It currently retails for $120 as per Saucony’s website.
Shoe 4: Salomon Sense Ride 2
Different from the S Lab Ultra discussed above, this shoe is perfect for both training and racing and works well on most terrain. This is the perfect shoe if you’re new to ultramarathon training and don’t want to invest in a specific racing shoe just yet. Salomon discusses their technologies for each part of the shoe. The outsole is what they label, ‘Contagrip MA’, which is a sole that is composed of different compounds of varied densities. In utilizing this material, different parts of the sole of the shoe can be harder or softer, as required for the style of shoe Salomon are designing. This ensures that the shoe will likely last longer on varied surfaces. Where the shoe is more likely to wear down (the edge of the heel, as an example), the compound will be higher density and more rigid as a result. The Midsole of the shoe uses ‘Vibe’ technology (it is written on the side of the shoe) – to which Salomon explains “attenuates vibrations” to optimize shoe responsiveness in contact with the ground. To put it more simply, the shoe is designed to absorb shock and adapt appropriately for the comfort of the wearer. The Chassis (the framework or membrane of the shoe to put it in other words, i.e, the insole board or structure), is designed to prevent feeling rocks or sharp surfaces on foot.
I do like how they used a quick-lace system for this shoe. It makes life a little easier. If you’re not a fan of this, you could buy laces to lace the shoe normally. I also like the rigid toe box so if you hit large rocks with the front of your foot, or trip up, you don’t get a nasty bloody toenail as a result. This is a big must for me when buying a durable trail shoe.
The Sense Ride 2 has an 8mm heel drop, and weighs This shoe won’t break the bank, at $84, down from $120 as per Salomon’s website.
Shoe 5: Asics Gel-Fujitrabuco 8
I have personally used these shoes and really enjoyed them. My feet feel supported for a trail shoe, and I don’t feel the rocks underfoot. For me, this is a big bother if the trail has a lot of stones and I know I’ll be out there for a while. The shoe has a rock protection plate in it, which is great. Asics praise this trail-running shoe for its comfort and durability, alongside excellent traction on the sole. I can confirm that the sole grip on this shoe is great, I’ve tested it out in some pretty muddy conditions, such as Boise’s wet, muddy foothills sand. It makes for a whole lot nicer of a run.
In terms of shoe tech, Asics claim that their ASICSGRIP outsole has bettered the traction on the shoe for wet and slippery surfaces, and uneven terrain. Stability is also an important factor for those who require or desire a bit more support, especially over the ultra-distance. Asics explains that they have improved this on the latest model of the Fujitrabuco, compared to the 7. The shoes also have reflectors on them, great for racing or running at night (in which most ultra’s you will be!)
One thing I did notice was the shoe isn’t too heavy, even though it looks it from the photos online. I was quite surprised when it arrived and felt how light it was compared to my expectations. It weighs around 12.2oz or 346grams, with an 8mm heel drop. These shoes won’t hurt the wallet too much, coming in at around $130.
What shoes do ultra-marathon runners wear?
Ultramarathoners wear shoes that are going to last a few tough training sessions, race day, and perform optimally on trails which vary in terrain, incline and can last in unpredictable weather conditions. There isn’t one specific shoe that is going to work better than another as it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Also, most people are looking to spend within a range to suit their budget. I recommend trying shoes on in-store if this is possible, or ordering a few pairs and returning the ones that aren’t suitable. Most places allow for this, especially in these times. Otherwise, read up as much as you can on shoes, and get the advice of teammates, friends, or family in the sport (this is where this post can help out as well!) You’ll assist yourself on the path to achieving your best and being the best ultramarathon runner you can be in a pair of shoes which you feel the best in and are right for your foot type. Which leads perfectly into the next question….
What are the best shoes for running ultramarathons?
Any one of the shoes discussed above may be right for you and your goals, training load, foot type, and injury history (if any, hopefully not too much). There are a few more brands that I didn’t discuss which do good ultramarathon running shoes. Here are some you can check out:
Nike Trail Running collection (Did you know they have a Nike Pegasus Trail? I love to jog in my Peg 36’s, and it was cool to learn there’s a trail shoe version of this model) I also hear the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 6 isn’t a bad choice either)
As I always stress, take into account your foot type. For example, I have narrow feet, one foot is half a size bigger, and I pronate slightly more. So I’m going to look for a shoe that is slim fitting, doesn’t irritate the heel or Achilles of my bigger foot, and has slightly more stability or a stability piece integrated into the model of the shoe. Most ultramarathon shoes are neutral in design, as this is best for varied terrain and prevention of ankle sprains. The shoe is more flexible and your foot can adapt to the changes in terrain easier with this type of fit.
It’s also important to consider cushioning and heel-to-toe drop, as the higher the shoe is off the ground, the more likely you are to sprain an ankle. For me, this is a no-go, particularly when fatigue hits, and my step or stride is prone to becoming more clumsy in a race or session.
What shoes do elite ultramarathoners train in?
The best wear the shoes they feel most comfortable and confident in. They definitely trial and test their shoes before race day, whether it’s in speed specific, race-specific or base-building training sessions. Know the shoe and how it works. I know of elite ultramarathoners who swear by Salomon and others who love Saucony. It really is about personal preference. Often companies that align better with the outdoors scene, trail running specifically and are known for durable, reliable gear, will draw in the ultramarathon crowd on a larger scale.
Keep in mind, most elites have a sponsorship of some sort, so it is likely they’ll be sporting a specific model of their sponsorship line of shoes. They’ll probably promote them too, on social media and on race day. Also, to end on a nice note, I saw plenty of these beautiful wildflowers which have just started to bloom on the trails today. What a beautiful time of year to be clocking in mileage….
Water intake is absolutely crucial in facilitating blood flow to the key parts of the body that are under stress when we run. It’s common knowledge that blood carries oxygen, nutrients, and sodium to working parts of the body, those being our heart, lungs, and muscles. When dehydration occurs, our blood thickens, reducing the rate of blood flow to these key systems and body components, reducing performance and placing undue amounts of stress on the body. Think of it like this – blood transports our fuel: food and water! Generally speaking, the harder you run, the more water your body will use.
How do you know if you’re dehydrated whilst running?
There are a number of easily identifiable symptoms which I’m sure you’ve heard of before. The first one is feeling thirsty. It is true that you’re already dehydrated, or on a path to dehydration if you feel thirsty. So drink before you feel the signals. Other symptoms include (this list is not exhausted):
Increased fatigue and feeling a lack of energy
Dryness in mouth
Stomach upset, often runners complain of gastrointestinal (G.I) distress
Cramping of muscles – for me personally, my calves cramp at night sometimes causing a bad sleep if I haven’t had enough water in the day
Seeing stars, feeling dizzy and/or lethargic
Inability to/and or difficulty concentrating
In 2007 the American College of Sports Medicine stated that “dehydration = 2% of body weight degrades aerobic exercise performance in temperate-warm-hot environments and that greater levels of dehydration will further degrade exercise performance.” Thus, the aim is to begin exercise well hydrated, and maintain fluid levels throughout long bouts of exercise, and replenish afterward. It’s pretty simple really. If you can, step on the scales first thing in the morning, before you go on your next long run, and immediately on return, step on the scales. If a bodyweight loss is greater than 2%, “endurance performance will suffer.”
From a medical standpoint, dehydration is caused when running by a number of factors, including respiratory losses (sweating and heavy breathing), substrate oxidation (burning energy, measured from indirect calorimetry measurements), water oxidation and lack of water availability to the bladder. With all these factors combined, up to 2% of body mass loss can potentially occur.
Does dehydration affect running?
We need to remember that around 60% of our body is composed of water, so it makes up a fair amount of our total body weight. As discussed above, if the runner were to lose roughly 2% of their body mass, endurance performance will decrease. This means a slower pace, reduced recovery ability, and an all-round bad experience. Why let something you can control and plan for race day, ruin your run? If we drink fluid in the correct amounts, timed well, we can ensure better performance on your next run or race day.
Have you ever heard of the term “bonking” or “hitting the wall”, in association with running? Bonking means a sudden loss of energy and a high onset of fatigue. Dehydration can contribute to “bonking”, which essentially leads to a drastic reduction in athletic performance and a potential inability to continue the athletic activity. It is also largely a result of a lack of glycogen availability to send to the muscles and liver. I’d recommend for events longer than an hour, sipping on a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution, alongside easy to digest snacks to prevent bonking. For events less than 1 hour, staying well hydrated in the days before, the morning of and afterward is crucial.
Another thing to consider is some people sweat more than others. This can be to do with the person’s gender, size, and weight. What this means for the runner, is it is a very personalized approach. The plan must be tried and tested. Don’t try something new on race day, or too close to race day.
How do you avoid dehydration when running?
The top priority is to replace water that has been lost through sweating post-exercise for shorter running sessions and sip on water for sessions longer than 1hr. It is also important to maintain hydration throughout the day, including before exercise. No need to go overboard, however, a glass of water in the morning, first thing can really help kickstart the day and set you up for a better run. As someone who hasn’t drunk enough water in the past, I recently made it a habit to have a glass of water as my first task in the morning, and I have felt better throughout the day as a result of this.
An Oxford Academic article observed the relationship between dehydration and endurance performance in competitive athletes. The main takeaways from this article are the importance of beginning exercise well-hydrated for longer bouts of endurance exercise (which can be monitored by urine color; pale is generally better), and encouragement of mouth-rinsing with sports drinks throughout the activity.
It is possible that Mouth rinsing Carbohydrate solutions could be beneficial for endurance performance, i.e running. This process involves sipping and swishing around a “carbohydrate-electrolyte solution” in your mouth during the endurance event. Whilst there has been little study on the potential benefits of this method, the evidence suggests that endurance performance around 1 hour in length if the “subject has fasted”, can have a beneficial effect on performance. I have done this myself in races around 10km, and longer runs, however not in a fasted state. What I did find from a performance standpoint is less hunger upon finishing my run, I didn’t feel as fatigued at the end, and I felt I could’ve run further if I desired. I do believe there is something to be said for this. This particular study revealed that “studies using functional MRI and transcranial stimulation have provided evidence that carbohydrate in the mouth stimulates reward centers in the brain and increases corticomotor excitability.” Essentially, the brain is tricked into improving performance which is likely associated with corticomotor excitability.
How do you hydrate before running?
I personally like to drink a glass of water in the morning first thing, with a light snack if I am doing a morning run. If I am going to run a little later in the day, I’ll ensure I’m sipping regularly. If I have access to a hydration formula, like Nuun, SOS Hydration, or Hydralyte Sport as examples, I’ll add a tablet to my water bottle for the day. This is even better than water from a hydration standpoint. I’m a big advocate for finding a personal balance for training, recovery, and a racing strategy. This can improve your performance and ability to recover well. During a race or long run, I like adding Tailwind powder to my bottle as it is a preservative-free (better for you, and your gut!), electrolyte and carbohydrate solution.
I want to break down my personal race strategy so you can see an example:
48 hours before a race, I ensure I am sipping on water regularly, and having an electrolyte tablet at least once a day. I don’t want to be dehydrated on any day leading into a race. (Unless of course, you are deliberately practicing dehydration for a race environment/personal factor of performance)
Morning of the race, I make sure to have a glass of water first thing and sip on water (not excessively), up until 30-45 minutes before the race. The reason I point out not to overdo it is because a glugging gut can hinder performance.
For longer races around 10-21km (10km is a personal preference, not necessary unless hot conditions) utilize aid stations, and don’t carry a personal water supply unless necessary. In trail events, however, I often carry water and others will do the same due to the nature of the race. For marathon and ultramarathon distances, personal aid station drinks are a good idea. This should be pre-planned, tried and tested well before race day for this scenario.
Post-race, it’s important to replenish lost stores. I like to drink an electrolyte solution and aim to consume a couple of cups of water in the 30 minutes after a race. Normally 1 before cool-down and another after. Keep sipping on water throughout the day, and the day after whilst the body recovers from the effort.
Don’t forget that it is also optimal to refuel carbohydrate and protein stores within 30-1 hour of hard/long effort or race finish for maximum recovery benefit. Carbohydrates will top up your depleted glycogen stores and protein will help kickstart muscle tissue damage.
Is it ok to drink water during a run?
Absolutely. If I’m doing a long run, I’m a big fan of carrying a water bottle in a belt with me, often with some tailwind solution if the run is 75 minutes or more. If this is a no-go for you, you could potentially design your run route around access to water (water fountains/bubblers, run via home). If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere more rural, or a running around trails, planting water bottles might be a good idea. Think of it as a mini aid station!
What about over-hydrating?
Yes, there is such a thing as drinking too much water. This is known as hyponatremia and can be just as dangerous as dehydration, if not more so. The key to knowing what hydration plan or method is going to work best for you personally, is through processes of trial and error. In sports medicine terms, being over-hydrated causes a low sodium level in the blood and blood volume is reduced. The hormone ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) is released, which retains water. This dilutes the blood, lowers the sodium levels, and prevents consistent blood flow and necessary nutrient transportation to the body.
Some nifty tips to hydrate well, and save money
Save your money with the fancy electrolyte tablets and instead try a small amount sweetened iced tea powder sachet (I use these)
Try making your own hydration drink. I love the Run Fast Eat Slow Cookbook recipe. It’s all about sodium content, a bit of carbohydrates and water of course!
Eat watermelon after running with your meal – it’s got simple carbohydrates for quick glycogen replenishment and has a nice water content.
Ice baths are a well-known method that many athletes, particularly runners, incorporated as a part of their recovery regimen. It’s important to any sports-person that recovery is optimized, time-effective and sport relevant. For athletes regularly involved in competition, It is essential that they recover quickly for their next training session or event, especially if they are competing within a close time framework. This allows them to perform at their best, under the given circumstances.
A few other things to consider are the individualization and periodization (what time of season you are in), the goals of the athlete, and if there is an injury involved, all of which impact a recovery routine. Personally, I like to establish a recovery routine that is quite diverse, so the body doesn’t get too used to one method. I include stretching, neural flossing, foam rolling, trigger ball releasing, Normatec boots (or anything similar), dry-needling, sports massage, A-stem/Graston technique and the occasional ice bath. Recently, I purchased a pair of recovery sandals/flip-flops to walk around the house and run errands in. We’re heading into Summer now in the US, and I don’t want to be stuck in a pair of crappy flip-flops 24/7 which aren’t optimal for a runner’s feet. After all, they are your assets! Try https://www.oofos.com/.
Are ice baths good for recovery after running?
This is a hot topic of debate, and currently, a large body of research has been conducted around the topic and studies are ongoing at present. I decided to consult a number of studies from accredited journals (the perks of having access to a university library!), and Sydney SportsMed Specialists to double-check my findings. What is an ice bath? Basically, it is 10-15 minutes in very cold water (50-59 F) after an intense exercise session. Many professional sports outfits across numerous contact and collision sports promote the benefits of ice baths with their athletes.
Interestingly, Ice Baths may not be all they are hyped up to be. Other recovery methods are likely to be better from a sports medicine standpoint. However, I’m a believer in placebo also, so if it makes you feel good, then go for it! The evidence for ice as a treatment for acute injuries is also under challenge, Although the jury remains out on that one.
A study was conducted for the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, on the effect of an Ice Bath for recovery in U/20 Rugby Union Players. There was no significant difference between the group that did utilize an Ice Bath and the group that didn’t post-session (specifically, this was tested after multiple shuttle workouts, a 300m running test). Considering this, the article illustrated that “during pre-season training, the physical work undertaken may be more important than the recovery protocol for improvements in fitness parameters tested in this study.” Just food for thought.
Further, a research article from The Journal of Physiology (2017) concluded that “cold water immersion (CWI) is no greater than active recovery upon local and systemic inflammatory cellular stress in humans” (pp. 1857). In other words, active recovery is no better than taking an ice bath. What the article did mention, however, is that CWI “may be useful within competition settings..with a short turn-around, of a particularly damaging nature, or in high environmental temperature” (1858). Yet it posed that during pre-season, it might hinder the athlete’s ability to adapt to the training, and potentially hinder performance. What is concluded: Cold Water Immersion has “a lack of impact..on the post-exercise inflammatory and cellular stress response” (1858). Briefly coming back to the comment on environmental temperature, CWI is certainly a very important intervention in the treatment of exercise associated heat illness, say during or after an endurance event. It does, however, seem of less importance in recovery from training or competition. Please note, that the study only included 9 young men, aged 19-24 years doing resistance training 3 times a week, so it was not a particularly large study.
I wanted to take a further look into the potential benefits of cryotherapy on provoking an anti-inflammatory response. A study published in The European Journal of Applied Physiology (2013) utilized a randomized trial to examine the “effect of cryotherapy on the inflammatory response to muscle-damaging exercise” (2577). The study involved 20 active males completing a 40-minute run downhill (10%), at 60% of VO2 Max, to “induce muscle damage”. After they completed the exercise, they sat in an ice bath (5 degrees C) for 20 minutes. From the results gathered, 20 minutes of immersion did not impact the level of soreness or assist the short-term loss of strength after the muscle-damaging exercise.
So, with all this information, what is beneficial when it comes to Cold Water/Ice? I find that the well-known R.I.C.E method (rest, ice, compress, elevate) is pretty trusty. If I have irritation or inflammation in a particular area, I’ll R.I.C.E it for 20 minutes, 3 times a day. If you’re lucky and own or have access to the Ice compression gear/technology, go for that! I do believe that there is still a lack of research surrounding hot and cold water immersion/contrast therapy. There will always be the proponents and the detractors. The timing surrounding this recovery method and specific temperatures need to be questioned and clarified with further research.
Why do Ice Baths make me feel good?
The placebo effect may arise from the fact that the CWI causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of the arterial vessels in the peripheries) and the feeling of the warm blood rushing in from the core when one gets out of the bath can give an invigorating feeling and make you feel good. This gives the feeling of improved perceived recovery. It also may decrease the effects of heat and humidity, if the athlete is playing or training in those types of environmental conditions, by lowering the core temperature a degree or so.
What about after HIIT training, specifically for runners?
This paper focuses specifically on a group of 9 runners who did a CWI (cold water immersion) after a HIIT session. One group participated in CWI immediately post-session and the other 3 hours after. The study was conducted to determine whether it would improve next-day exercise performance.
The study showed some benefits of CWI in a yoyo test. Note, that this is not training or competition, but could be an indicator of potential benefits of an Ice Bath. More study is needed as to how much benefit, which is unknown at present, and a larger sample size of runners…
What do you do after an ice bath?
In terms of the post Ice Bath routine, there isn’t too much to it. Simply dry off well, change into some warmer comfy clothes, or my personal favorite, compression gear, and recover after your workout or event. If you’re finding it hard to warm up again, try a hot drink or soup.
How often should you take ice baths after running?
Generally speaking, ice baths are best utilized after sessions that involve high muscle-damaging activity. For the runner, a hard interval session, tempo session, between track events or post-race are all good times to take an ice bath.
Remember, you don’t have to immerse your entire body in the bath if you don’t want to, just soaking the legs is also common.
Should I take a warm bath after an ice bath?
It’s not ideal to jump straight into a warm bath or hot shower after an Ice Bath – it kind of defeats the purpose. Unless you’re deliberately doing hot and cold contrast therapy to recover, stick with just an ice bath. If you absolutely need to, take a luke-warm shower after, but nothing too hot (like your usual shower, sadly).
How long should you ice bath after running?
I know the recommended amount of time for an Ice Bath immersion lies around 5-20 minutes depending on how accustomed you are to them, and how cold the water is. If you’re a first time user, start off with less and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t stay in for the whole length of time. If the water is super cold, go for less time, and vise versa. I personally set a timer and try to relax. Placing a big warm towel beside the bath is a must, it makes the whole idea of an Ice Bath easier to digest.
Remember to cool down/warm down after your event before hopping into an Ice Bath, however, so your muscles are relaxed and heart rate (HR) has had a chance to decrease and signal the body to begin the recovery process.
Should you stretch after an ice bath?
It’s a good idea to stretch after any hard training session or event, after a cool-down/warm-down.However, if you didn’t find the time, or hopped straight into an ice bath after your session, once you hop out and get warm, it is a good idea to do some light stretching. Don’t stretch when you are cold, immediately after the bath. I also stress the importance of moving around a bit throughout the day or evening post-race. Don’t get stuck in the same position for extended periods of time, as this hinders recovery and tightens muscles.
It is important to establish a clear purpose/s and goal/s for your website or blog. This will guide your focus when creating the platform and content, and allow for smoother decision making as you follow the construction process. Some questions to ask yourself are:
What are you trying to communicate to your audience?
What are your short and long term goals with this website?
Why are you establishing this platform of communication to the world?
I recommend writing these down in a notebook that you dedicate to jotting down anything to do with your blog, small business website (whatever your purpose!). These can be anything from ideas for your next blog post, random late-night to-do thoughts, or miscellaneous stream of consciousness writing. Whatever, get creative.
This nifty ‘to-do list’ style website will help you keep track of what you need to do, what you’re working on, and what you’ve finished: https://trello.com/. The great thing about it is you can add multiple users who can also adjust the list, and see what you’re doing. Everyone’s on the same page!
Establish a domain
This is your URL to your website. In other words, your web address (like a home address). It is easy to get confused and assume this is your ‘website’. The website is the product that is created once a ‘host’ server is established (the house). URLs were created to get around the issue of IP addresses, which is an identification number that computers use to communicate with each other. These numbers are difficult to remember, so personalized URL creation was established to make this much easier.
Before you purchase a domain, you need to make sure to check if the name is available. The links inserted below will lead you to the domain purchase sites where you can also search URL name availability. Choosing a ‘.com’ URL is best in most cases, as it is easy to remember and the most widely used URL style.
I also recommend choosing HTTPS secured links, as these sites are more trusted by Google, and therefore rank better.
If you’re running a business from this site, clients are more likely to feel safer purchasing off an HTTPS secure site. See the links below are, ‘https’ before the ‘www.’ This is what I am referring to:
I highly recommend WordPress. Statistics show that it “powers over 30% of the entire internet”, (for an interesting read see: Venturebeat.com). WordPress is great because of its variety of options, versatility, and user-friendliness.
Popular domain establishment sites + cost breakdown:
Wix is slightly different, as it allows you to purchase a domain, web hosting and website building software all in the same package. You can choose this option which consolidates the number of websites and platforms you use to help create your own website. However, I have found that using a specific website link ‘Namecheap’ to purchase a domain, a separate hosting server like ‘host-gator’ and a specific website builder like ‘WordPress’ just as effective. If not more!
Wix has multiple different plans, which it advertises as ‘per month cost’. Select the one that best suits your needs (referring back to the purpose of the site in section 1 of this post). From a personal standpoint, I’d recommend the ‘Unlimited’ plan, as it has lots of options. The simple ‘Connect Domain’ plan is very limited and can be frustrating in this sense.
Similar to Namecheap, you can purchase domains quite cheaply on Godaddy. I tested out a domain I’m interested in which ends in ‘.com’. It offered me $0.99 for the first year, and around $17.99-19.99 every year after that. However, if you buy multiple years in one package, it is often more economical.
You’ll need a hosting server
Websites need to be stored on a server, as we mentioned above. This is essentially ‘the house’ to your address (URL). A web hosting service provides the user with the services required for the website to be viewed on the internet. For example, when you search for a website in a browser, the browser connects you to the server and the web page is then delivered to you through the browser. So, a browser is just a gateway between the server and your web page.
I like to use Hostgator. It is cheap, links with WordPress (a great site builder) and has awesome customer service.
Host gator has 3 plans, as shown in the link above. I recommend a Hatchling Plan if you are just starting out, and only planning on establishing 1 domain. This is $2.75/month. However, if you plan on owning multiple domains in the future, the Baby or Business plan would suit your needs better.
To begin, pick a minimalist theme/suited to the aims of your website. Why minimalist? It draws attention to what is important in your website, which is the content.
Under the ‘appearance’ menu hit ‘themes’
Selecting one of these themes establishes how your website will look to the audience. Different themes allow for different customization options and enhance certain features. For blogs, we generally recommend something that is simple: it draws the readers attention to your post, not clogged up side content.
Pick a font, generally speaking, one with the word ‘Sans’ in it works best
You could use ‘Open Sans’ font
To choose from a variety of fonts, visit https://fonts.google.com/. Here you can download fonts in a zip file, and use them in wordpress when writing content.
Set up your pages → under ‘pages’ menu in WordPress
Homepage (seen by the audience)
Content/posts page (seen)
Find us online (hidden, this is purely for link building)
(hidden, this is where you record the details of your site building you might forget, such as your chosen font, color palette codes, etc)
(WordPress admin → Appearance → Widgets)
Widgets are small blocks that have particular functions that you can add to your website. It affects the design and aesthetic layout of your site.
Some of the key widgets I have chosen to use are:
Archives (monthly archive of site’s posts)
Navigation Menu (to display different pages on your site)
Recent Comments (displaying comments on your posts)
Recent Posts (most recent posts)
Plugins are how we add extra features to a website. They enhance the user experience of the website. Some of these will run in the background, whilst others are interactive and customizable. This is a good order to install the basic plugins to begin with, for ease of use:
Classic editor → enables the WordPress classic editor, old-style edit post screen. Supports older plugins
Really Simple SSL → SSL(Secure Sockets Layer), ensures the security of your website
Yoast SEO → an SEO solution for WordPress. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and works effectively with the Google algorithms.This runs in the background and enhances your site. Some of the features include:
Keyword and synonym optimization
Readability analysis → reading-ease score
Image optimization → helps you rank images
Insert headers and footers → to insert code or text into the header and footer of your website pages, for softwares to track and gather data, such as Google Analytics
Popup Maker → create popups, easily edit their theme, design, size. You name it!
Gravity Forms Plugin
Sadly the Gravity forms software does have a cost to install and utilize as a feature, but it is well worth it, and a small investment for long term gain. This feature costs $59 and can be added directly to WordPress via the plugin installation. – https://www.gravityforms.com. It allows you to:
Easily create web forms and manage form entries within the WordPress admin. This is important if you want to establish a Newsletter or Contact Us page, which is highly recommended for any website type.
Install the Gravity Forms Plugin, hit activate, and enter the support license key you received upon downloading the software via the Gravity Forms website.
Your Analytical Toolbox (how we gather data to enhance your website)
This section will teach you how to set up the essential software you need to gather data and analytics, optimize your experience as a website owner, and better the audience’s experience of your platform. This covers what you should begin with, and what you should set up soon after you’ve got the hang of things.
When I mention ‘Keywords’, this is what I am referring to. Keywordseverywhere is a browser add-on (or extension) that has a free or premium version. The premium version after a few months of establishing and getting the hang of your website is optimal. For now, install the free version. Here you will be able to see the related keywords to your google searches, and what other people are searching related to those keywords.
The premium version is fantastic, as you can see “monthly search volume, cost per click and competition data for keywords on multiple websites like Google Analytics, Google Search Console etc.”
It’s a good idea to target your blog posts and content around keywords which are not overly used and could rank well on Google with some smart post writing, promotion on various social media and link building methods.
Set-up Google Search Console
The Google Search Console (GSC) will be one of your foundational go-to tools for reports on analytics regarding the performance of your organic-search traffic in google. GSC assists in establishing that your site exists with Google. It makes your site searchable and builds trust with Google.
It also provides you with valuable analytics for your website. For example, the number of times your site links have been clicked via a google search engine result (known as an impression, which will discuss a bit later). It also reports on:
Post-click data regarding engagement with the content in your site such as:
E-commerce conversion rates
Performance of an individual blog post (via the posts unique link)
Bounce rate (the number of people who visit a website and navigate away after only viewing a single page)
Add your website and verify it with Search Console. To do this, select the ‘property dropdown in Search Console’. Next, hit ‘+ Add Property’ on the dropdown. Add the property under the specific category.
You’ll be asked to verify the domain or URL’s added to the Console. You can verify it immediately or do this later.
Once you verify, it is important to enable GSC data sharing → click ‘Admin’ and then ‘property in which you want to enable Search Console data sharing’.
Hit ‘Property’, then ‘Property Settings’. Scroll down to Search Console Settings, and you should see the URL/s that you have added. This confirms that your website has been verified in GSC and you now have permission to make changes.
Select the ‘Reporting view’ for the URL you want to see the GSC data.
Note: GSC keeps data for at least 16 months.
Set-up Google Analytics
Google Analytics allows you to collect simple data about your website.
Find your Google Analytics ID to add a tracking code to your website
Sign in to your Analytics account
Hit Admin, then select your desired account from ‘Account’ column
Select a ‘Property’ (your website) from the ‘Property’ column
Under Property, click tracking info → tracking code. The ‘Tracking ID’ will be displayed at the top of the page.
Now that you have your ID, you’ll want to add it to your site. I recommend installing the ‘Headers and Footers’ Plugin to your site, so you can copy and paste this information onto your pages. See the screenshot below from https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1008080
Tip: Be sure to install the Google Analytics App, so you can gather data from your device! Global Site Tags allow for on-demand data tracking via google analytics for each page of your website.
The Google Marketing Platform
It’ll be useful to make an account on the Google Marketing platform to manage your Google Ads accounts and to install these other software products for your website. Similarly, you’ll have to paste a bit of code like the one above into the header or footer of your website pages you wish to have the software chosen active on.
I recommend installing:
Google Optimize → this allows you to create the best possible version of your website, in an everchanging online environment and the outside world. For example, you can create variants of your webpage and content (or experiments) and test them against other variables to see how they would perform before your release the content.
Google Tag Manager → Free tag management. This allows you to manage and utilize marketing tags (code snippets) on your website. From there, you can track multiple features of your website such as conversions and analytics.
Data studio (data reporting)→ to generate data reports of analytics to make smarter business decisions
Use it as a means to write about what you actually want to write about
Answer the question, and segue into the similar topic….
Remember, posts with more writing content generally do better overall! At least 1000 words is key.
Always begin with a photo that is relatable to the audience and post
Humans love visual content, our brains respond to it easily. Draw your audience in with a lovely, high-quality photo before your first paragraph of text begins.
Of course, this should relate to the content discussed, and if possible, include a human body part in it. Why? Our brains are hardwired to respond to visuals first, it is our first true connection to the outside world when we are born. As a baby, we’d seek out faces we recognize, and associate them with comfort (subconsciously). Further, visual input sparks emotion. Emotion is key to igniting a response from the potential audience.
Label the image description and title the keyword of your post. For example, if you are writing about ‘5K Meal Plan’, the first image would be called ‘5K meal plan 1’, and so on.
Trickle images throughout the post. I’d say around 2 for a post around 1000 words.
Getting your website out there
We like to take a multi-faceted approach, which means to expose the content of the website to many different marketing platforms. Think visual content sites like Pinterest, interactive blog platforms such as Tumblr, popular forums platforms like Quora, and the usual suspects Instagram and Facebook. Here, we engage with users who are interested in the content you are writing about, or products you are selling. The multi-faceted approach establishes the foundations to achieve the best possible number of impressions for your content (the number of people who are exposed to your content, whether they choose to engage with it or not). Likely, some of these users will engage with your post (your ‘Reach’). This is your audience, from whom we gather data to further refine the marketing and exposure process. Sound complicated? It’ll get easier as we go. Trust me!
Link building involves answering questions regarding your topic and specifically, the keyword/s of your post on popular forums (like Quora). For example, I searched for people asking questions surrounding ‘Best 5K running shoes’ on Google. I answered questions in a popular running forum called ‘Let’s Run’, ensuring I added my link to the bottom of the post, directing the readers to my website. With Quora, it is the exact same process. I highly recommend reading these great in-depth articles surrounding Quora Back-Links and Types of Backlinks to build your knowledge in this area. It is a really effective way to build the popularity of your website and, eventually, make the front page of Google search results.
Types of Backlinks: Backlink Matrix and Backlink Portfolio
Keep it simple and neat, with a key image (the one you used on your post).
For example, I used a simple theme, and selected my color from my color scheme on Coolors.co. See below
Color palette selection platform → establishes your websites color scheme. Record the codes (for example, #F303BA) somewhere same, such as your Brand Guidelines page you have/will create (WordPress admin → pages)
Here’s my example:
Head Back to Pinterest.
Hit your user icon and the ‘+’ to ‘Create Pin’. Add the pin image you created on Canva. In the description add the keywords associated with your post.
Remember to include your URL link to your post.
Congratulations, you’ve created your first blog post associated pin.
Tumblr is a cross between a social networking site and a blog. Creating a Tumblr account will be purely for the purpose of increasing exposure of your website on the internet to a greater audience. You can copy the individual links of your posts to your ‘Find me online’ page on WordPress, and then index them (see Link Building).
To begin, create an account on https://www.tumblr.com/. Just like we did on WordPress, select a theme, a font, and post your content from WordPress on Tumblr as well. We should treat it like a system. What goes up on WordPress as a content post, should also be made into a pin on Pinterest, a Text AND link post on Tumblr, and so on. Always remember to utilize the keywords of your post, and link back to your site. On your dashboard you’ll have these options available to create targeted posts:
Facebook ads/Instagram ads
Running facebook ads is an essential part of advertising a business or product. According to the Pew Research Center, 70% of Facebook users in the U.S log into Facebook on a daily basis. From this statistic we can conclude that there is large market exposure potential on this platform. The great thing about Facebook ads is it is extremely easy to ‘target’ the users you want to market to, and it runs your ads on Instagram as well.
The targeting features facebook offers are:
Audience targeting, with customizable features
Interests → keywords can be used here!
People with connections to your app, page or event
Behaviours → people who have visited your website or interacted with your content
You also need to select your budget and duration of the promotion.
Next, you’ll be guided to design the look of your ad, with the features shown in the screenshot below available to you.
Facebook ad budget
It’s a great idea to create a budget spreadsheet on google sheets to manage your costs for 12 months. Pick a budget that you can sustain for 12 months, and work with this.
Here is a template for $150 a month to get your started. This is quite a low budget if you are wanting to monetize the blog or small business website in any form. However, we have to start somewhere! This template is customizable to your needs.
Mailchimp allows you to create newsletters, ads, landing pages, and CRM tools.
You can create your first Newsletter on Mailchimp about your blog post, and target subscribers who register via a popup form they receive when they visit your website.
Below will show you how to create a popup and link subscribers from your WordPress site to Mailchimp.
Zapier → Connecting Gravity Forms, WordPress and Mailchimp
Create an account on www.zapier.com, the workflow management website now, to make your life easier later.
Once you’ve made an account, create your first Zap.
Choose Gravity forms under ‘App’
The ‘trigger event’ should be ‘New Form Submission’
3. Next, in section 2. Select Mailchimp, and under ‘Choose Action Event’, select ‘Add/Update subscriber’. See below:
4. Congratulations! You’ve created your first Zap, and now your newsletter subscriber form submissions from your website will be directly linked to Mailchimp.
5. Head over to WordPress and add a new Plugin. It is called the Gravity Forms Zapier add-on → for the smooth integration of Gravity forms and Zapier, so your newsletter list subscribers are automatically sent to your configured zaps!
6. Under the forms tab in your WordPress Admin menu, hit forms, and select the ‘Newsletter’ form you have created.
7. Under Settings on the ‘Newsletter’ form editing page, you’ll see a new column labeled ‘Zapier’. This confirms the connection is established.
Let me know if you start the process of creating your own website! I’d love to hear about it. Still got questions? Comment below or you can visit the ‘Contact’ page above.
There’s no doubt it’s crazy times we live in right now. We need to be smart with spending whilst still fueling our body to stay as healthy as possible. I run at the moment for the pure joy of it, the outdoors time each day and the mental clarity it provides. When I’m consistently running, I’m almost always hungry. It is important to consider the necessary nutritional intake for any training you may be doing at this time. Stress is stress, whether it be physical or mental, so eating well, and enough is essential to keep the immune system in check. Don’t let this one slide right now.
I’ve put together these tips for you, so you can save some extra cash in these next few months (or however long this thing is going to last!), and still enjoy your cooking and eating.
Write a list
Writing a grocery list might sound like a frustrating thing, however, it will ensure your grocery trip is the most cost-effective and time-efficient. You’re more likely to stick to your grocery budget if you write a list!
When writing a list, it can be handy to categorize it. Most grocery stores will have the fresh produce and potentially specific colder goods in the first few aisles or entry section, so I tend to write these on the list first, as shown in my sample template below. Often the bakery section and bulk produce are in the same area, so I place any goods I need from these sections next. The middle aisles hold the cheapest food items, that last the longest. Essentially, your non-perishables like canned goods, preserves, nut butters, cereal, pasta, rice, etc. Meats and often dairy goods are in the same general area towards the back or sides of the store. I like to add these goods to the right side of the list. There are also frozen goods, pharmaceuticals, toiletry needs, and cleaning products, which I put at the bottom of the list.
Navigating the grocery store like a pro
Have you ever walked into a grocery store, and not known where to start? The middle aisles hold the cheapest items that last the longest. Keep in mind that this is great for saving money. If you’d rather fruit and vegetables that last a while, remember you can always get canned, frozen, or chop them up and freeze them yourself. I like to freeze bananas and chop up veggies to freeze for roasting or stir-fry later.
Another nifty tip is to always look high and low in the aisle. Fun fact, grocery stores make most of their money off brands paying to have their product placed in prominent positions around the store, not you as a consumer. The most expensive products will be placed in the middle. Generic brand products often taste the same, so save money where you can here.
Always look at the price per weight, ounce or serving if applicable. You’ll always get the better deal. The first situation I think of where I use this most is milk and toilet paper (although I wouldn’t stress about the latter, there isn’t any, anyway). Also, always buy in bulk for goods you use often. It’s the same deal with cost-effectiveness. Think oats, rice, flour, sugar, pasta, olive oil, chicken stock, seasonings, etc.
Choosing the goods.
On a budget, being open to eating cheaper cuts of meats is prime. Chicken thighs are cheaper than chicken breast, and often marinate better and contain all the flavor. Don’t believe me? Try cooking a curry with chicken breast, and then try one with thighs. Life changer.
Do your own slicing, dicing, and shredding. The stores always charge more if they make cuts or shred the item for you.
Shopping in categories for the time savvy
I’ve found it’s a good idea to have a knowledge of where you can buy produce the cheapest, packaged goods, and toiletry products. This makes grocery shopping most effective cost-wise, however, if the stores are far apart and you don’t own a vehicle, this can be a little tricky. For example, in Boise (Idaho), close to Boise State University campus and downtown, we have an Albertsons, Wholefoods, Trader Joe’s and Winco. There’s a Walmart, Costco and Fred Meyer in other areas of Boise, but they’re not easily accessible by bike or particularly close to BSU campus. These are also cheaper options.
For organic produce at a lower cost: Albertsons (open nature generic brand products), Trader Joe’s (How is it so cheap for good quality? Check out this post)
Cheapest: Winco, Walmart
For organic produce, regardless of cost: Wholefoods, Albertsons, Trader Joe’s (organic veggie section), Fred Meyer (organic section)
Savings programs?! You can get more bang for your buck
Most people’s first thoughts on joining a rewards program are annoying advertisements including multiple emails, flyers and potentially an annoying card that sits in your wallet, hardly being used. However, I’ve found Albertsons ‘Just for U’ rewards program really helpful in saving money, and also for the occasional free grocery item giveaway if I decide to shop at this location. Essentially, you make an account, and each week you can choose which coupons you add to your account. These coupons automatically deduct from the cost of groceries when you enter the phone number you registered at the checkout. Look out for ‘FREE’ groceries each week. I got a free bag of Open Nature Granola for 2 weeks in a row, some Kite Hill yogurt, and have had free bags of coffee on multiple occasions.
I know Wholefoods have rewards for Amazon Prime members. Prime members get an extra 10% off sale items, weekly deals (look for the blue prime member store icon), special deals on online grocery shopping with Amazon-like free delivery.
Moocho App: free grocery money
This app is worth downloading if you shop at Albertsons. For $5 free grocery credit upon downloading the app, use referral code: 293683. Ask to pay with Moocho at the counter and collect 1 Mooch for every $5 you spend. At 20 Mooches, you get $7 worth of grocery credit at the store. The app also connects up with Starbucks and other popular fast food joints, but given the COVID-19 restrictions, these might not be utilized at the moment.