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Five Tips for Going From 10K to Half Marathon Racer

You’ve tackled a few 5Ks and you already have a couple of 10Ks under your belt. What’s next? We guess you’re more than ready to sign up for your first half marathon.

But training for a 13.1 is very different from preparing yourself for a 5K or a 10K. Before you get started, read on for five tips that will help you stick with your goal and cross that finish line with confidence!

Commit to your end goal

half-marathon-racer

Whether you’re a total newbie or an experienced runner, training for a half marathon requires a lot of time and energy. During your training there will be plenty of reasons not to run – you’re tired, you’re busy, the weather is too cold or too hot, your running clothes are dirty. But those are just excuses, and if you really want to cross the finish line, you will have to overcome them all!

Start by asking yourself “Why do I want to race a half marathon?”. Do you want to shed a few pounds, raise money for a cause or set a personal best? Whatever your reason, this will serve as your end goal, your primary motivation throughout the training and on race day.

Have a plan

If you think you can keep on using the same 10K training program to train for your first half marathon, you’re wrong. Running 13.1 miles is a lot different than 6.2.

Choose a training plan that gives you plenty of time to train before race day and make sure it includes some cross-training, stretching and strength exercises, besides the traditional long runs.

If you are at least 12 weeks away from the race day, Half Marathon Novice 1 can help you cross the finish line with a smile on your face. Based on Hal Higdon’s training plans, Half Marathon Novice 1 advises you to run three days a week, cross train two days a week and allow your body to rest when scheduled. During this training program, you will be running two regular runs and one long run each week, until you’re half marathon ready!

Gear Up

half-marathon-training

Longer distances require different gear.

Start by buying two supportive pair of sneakers instead of just one. Having two pairs of shoes when you start your training sounds like an an expensive outlay in cash, but it actually helps extend the life of each pair by giving them recovery time between runs. Plus, recent studies suggest that alternating between a couple different pairs of shoes in training can decrease injury risk by varying the load to your musculoskeletal system.

In addition, make sure you add wicking and seamless socks, shorts or pants and tops to your shopping list. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses with 100-percent UV protection and a running hat to protect your face from the sun. And don’t forget to have a comfortable armband to hold your phone or iPod, that you will definitely want to carry for your longer runs!

Fuel right

At this point, you already know how important it is to eat right before you lace up and get out there. But as you increase the mileage and start running up to 10 miles a week, it’s very important to reconsider your fueling strategy so you don’t end up hitting the “wall” on longer training runs.

Aim to consume 150 to 200 calories for every hour of running. GU, a banana, Luna Sport Moons, packets of honey or jelly beans are great options and very easy to carry with you.

Work on your mental fitness

from-10k-to-half-marathon

The two most important things you can take to the starting line on race day are confidence and motivation. On longer runs, it’s easy to get bored, focus on the pain you’re feeling and, eventually, want to give up.

Just as you practice to improve your speed or your strength, it’s important to train your mental muscle as well. During your training, imagine yourself on race day and going through all the challenges that you will have to overcome. Being mentally prepared allows all the work you’re putting into achieving your goal to manifest itself on the race course.

Bluefin’s 5th Birthday – 5 Days of Special Deals

Birthday-Bluefin-campaign

This week, Bluefin Software celebrates its 5th birthday! During these 5 years, we witnessed the progress of thousands towards a more active lifestyle, including ourselves! Your passion, determination and strength have always been our main motivation! Therefore, you are our guest of honor in this celebration!

For the next five days, you can get a great deal on our mobile apps! Each day, a set of apps will be on a limited time sale, from 12:01 am to 11:59 pm (your time zone). To find out which apps have our birthday special discounts, you can follow us on Twitter or visit our Facebook page.

We’ll be announcing the first set of apps this Friday! A small hint: newbie runners will love these first deals!

8 Yoga Poses to Prevent Running Injuries

If you’re a runner, you know that injuries might, at some point, become part of your life. In fact, half of all runners deal with at least one injury per year, mostly due to repetitive motion, or body imbalances.

To prevent injuries, it’s important to follow an appropriate running plan and  strengthen some key muscles responsible for the movements that are causing you pain and discomfort.

Yoga can play a major role in preventing most injuries and recovering faster, as its’ stretches help you improve your strength and flexibility.

For an injury-free running, lay down the mat and try these 8 yoga poses:

 

Plantar Fasciitis

If you’re experiencing pain on the heel or the sole of the foot, especially when you get out of bed in the morning, you’re probably suffering from plantar fasciitis. This is one of the most common injuries among runners and can be caused by stress from repetitive foot strikes as well as tightness in the Achilles tendon, ankle, and calf muscles.

You can avoid it by stretching the tissues on the back of the leg and the sole of the foot to reduce tension in the plantar fascia. Do these poses once a week or more for prevention:

  • Sole Stretch: Come onto your hands and knees and tuck your toes under. Sit on your heels gently. To start, keep your hands on the floor in front of you and keep some of your weight on your hands as you sit back. You can progress to sitting upright with all of your weight on your heels, palms in your lap. Hold for 30 to 90 seconds.
  • Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose: Lie on your back, put a strap around the ball of the right foot, and extend your right leg up. Keep your head and shoulders on the floor and grab the strap with both hands. Hold for 1 to 2 minutes, and repeat on the other side.
Source: Greatist http://greatist.com/

Source: Greatist

 

Runner’s knee

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, the medical term for knee pain, is every runner’s worst enemy. Knee pain can have a number of different causes, including repetitive movements (such as pounding on the pavement), downhill running, strength imbalances or weakness in the hip muscles.

To prevent this common injury, keep your hips flexible and strong with these yoga poses:

  • Frog: Walk your knees as wide apart from one another as they will comfortably allow. Flex your feet strongly and bring the inside edges of your feet to touch the mat. The angle in both the knees and ankles should be no greater than 90 degrees. Lower down to your forearms. Gently push your hips back and downwards. Hold for 2 to 5 minutes.
  • Pigeon: Stretch your right leg out behind you, and bend your left knee so that your left foot is near your right pelvic bone with your toes pointed out. Slowly drape your body over the right leg. Repeat on the opposite side.

Pigeon-pose

 

IT Band Pain

One other cause of knee pain in runners is the irritation of the iliotibial band (IT band), a thick tendon that stretches from the pelvic bone down the tibia. The IT band pain can be caused by downhill running or unidirectional track running, excessive increased mileage, or weakness in the hips and glute muscles.

Stretching the IT band itself won’t fix the problem. To prevent it, do these yoga poses to stretch the muscles of the hips and thighs that pull on the IT band:

  • Supine Cow Face Pose: Lie on your back and cross one knee over the other. Hug your knees in toward your chest, while keeping your head on the floor. Hold for 1 minute, and then repeat with your legs crossed the other way.
  • Standing Forward Bend (variation): While standing, cross your right ankle over your left. With your knees slightly bent, fold forward and rest your hands on the floor. Reach your sitting bones toward the sky and move your ribs away from your pelvis to prevent your back from rounding. Hold for 1 minute, and then repeat on the opposite side.

 

Hamstring Pulls

This muscle group is the source of frustration for many runners. They are so strong and thick it takes time to open and flex tight hamstrings.

Try these 2 yoga poses to stretch them:

  • Standing straddle forward bent: Start by moving apart both legs as far as you can. Your feet should face outwards. Tilt your torso to the front and move your hands so that they are below your shoulders and your wrists in alignment with your ankles. Bend your elbows and try to keep your hips in the same plane in which your ankles are. Displace your body weight upon your feet and draw your quadriceps muscles upwards.
  • Plow pose: Lie on your back and bring your legs straight up in the air towards the ceiling. Bring your arms alongside your body with your palms down. Press into your hands and lift your legs over your head.

Plow-Pose

Any poses you want to add? Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

5 Working Out Tips for Busy Women

With kids to drop at school, business meetings, groceries to pick up, personal calls to make, a dinner party with friends, and a billion other responsibilities, how are we supposed to have the time and the motivation to work out?

If you’re already managing such a busy (and insane!) schedule, we can guarantee this will be a piece of cake, especially with our extra help!

To celebrate the upcoming International Women’s Day, we put together some simple tips and tricks for achieving your health and fitness goals, starting today!

Define your goals

fitness-tips-busy-women

Before you step out the door and start your active living journey, think about why you want to make fitness part of your life. Do you want to lose weight? Or are you concerned about maintaining your health and de-stressing while working out?

If your main goal is to shed some extra pounds, you’ll find that only a more intense and rigorous schedule – like six days of exercise a week, ideally for 50 to 60 minutes at a time – will do the job.

But if you’re looking to enjoy the healthy benefits of consistent exercise, you’ll only need to spare two and a half hours a week from your busy schedule. To stay motivated and track your progress, use an app such as Bootcamp or Ease into 5K, if you’re a big fan of running.

The earlier the better

How many times have you heard yourself saying: “I’ll do it later!”. And how many times “later” became “never”? The longer you wait in the day to work out, the more excuses you can find to put it off. The solution: become a morning person! In fact, research suggests that women who work out in the morning stick with their programs more successfully than those who don’t.

But if you’re still skipping workouts, despite all your efforts to get out of bed at 6 am, start treating your workouts as you would an important business meeting: schedule them in advance and don’t ever miss one!

Make it social

Make-it-social

Fitness is more fun when you’ve got friends involved. In fact, according to numerous researches, working out with a partner will help you stick with your goals and stop bailing your fitness commitments.

You can even take this advice to a next level, by choosing a fitness buddy with whom you are friendly but aren’t all that close with socially. If your fitness partner is a colleague or a friend of a friend, you’re probably going to feel more of an obligation to get to your workout appointments on a regular basis.

Focus on larger muscles

If you don’t have a lot of time, you should focus your efforts on larger muscles and target every trouble zone with body-weight moves.

The most effective exercises are squats, push-ups, lunges, and plank pose. Do them back-to-back as a circuit three or four times, without taking a break. You’ll see results in no time!

All workouts count

workout-home

A short workout is better than no workout at all! Even 10 or 20 minutes of exercise is worth the effort.

When you’re really pressed for time, put your creativity to the test! Take the stairs instead of the escalator, walk a couple of extra blocks at lunch or use our 7-Minute Workout app while the dinner is in the oven. These little bursts of activity can truly add up to significant calories burned each day!

6 Essential Foods for Runners

Suppose you could only add 6 ingredients to your must-buy list. As a runner, which foods should you choose?

A runner’s diet is important not for only maintaining good health, but also to boost energy, aid the recovery and shed some extra pounds.

So, before your next trip to the grocery store, make sure you add these 6 essential foods to your list.

Salmon

Salmon

Salmon should be included in every diet. This fish is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fats, which improve nervous system functioning and boost heart health by creating more elastic blood vessels.

Salmon also has protein, vitamins A, B and D and several minerals that are vital to a balanced and healthy diet.

In addition, salmon is a very versatile fish. Just add some fresh herbs and bake, grill, or poach it to put a healthy and delicious meal on the table.

Bananas

Bananas are among the best pre-workout foods for runners. They are an excellent source of carbs, with 0% fat, and are extremely high in potassium, which runners lose in sweat during exercise.

Bananas also help regulate muscle contraction, prevent cramping and are a “safe” pre-race food because they’re unlikely to cause gastrointestinal issues.

Whole Grain Pasta and Bread

Whole-grain

Pasta and breads are a runner’s best friends, before and after big workouts. They contain easily digestible carbs that help you fuel your runs and are ideal to restock spent glycogen stores.

But not all pasta and breads are created equal. Whole-grain versions contain more fiber, which promotes satiety and digestive health, additional B vitamins that are crucial to energy metabolism, and disease-fighting compounds such as lignans.

Instead of white bread or any baked products made with white flour, opt for whole-grain breads, pasta, rolls, crackers, and cereal.

Kale

If you want to add some green to your plate, kale might be one of the most nutritious options. Kale is a great source of vitamins A, B6, C and K, as well as iron and calcium.

Kale is also known by its strong anti-inflammatory properties, which can help runners to recover from low-grade inflammation resulting from exercise-induced muscle damage.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet-potatoes

A single sweet potato contains the always-important carbs and supplies more than 250 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant. They’re also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, iron, manganese and copper.

And you don’t need to do much to make them taste good. Cooked in the oven or even in the microwave, they always make a great side for dinner.

Eggs

Eggs are nutritional powerhouses! With just one egg you’ll be able to satisfy about 10 percent of your daily protein needs and ingest all the crucial amino acids your muscles need to recover from intense workouts.

You’ll also get about 30 percent of the daily value for vitamin K, which is crucial for bone health.

Eggs can be eaten at any time of the day. Put your creativity to the test and try some healthy omelets and frittata recipes.

How to beat your 5K PR

You’ve been running regularly for some time and have completed a few 5K races. Now what? A new running goal is always a good idea. If you’re still not ready to race your first 10K, you might want to take your racing to the next level, by focusing on increasing your personal record.

Here are some tips for running faster 5K races:

Follow a 5K training plan

Follow a 5K training plan

To run faster and more efficiently, you might want to consider getting extra help. A friend who mastered several 5Ks, a personal trainer, a schedule, all these options are valid.

But if you’re used to running with your phone – that you use as a gps, music player or to take a few running selfies – Ease Into 5K might be the right training plan for you. Ease into 5K is a beginner’s running app that brings a new approach to training, more geared towards the needs of beginning runners and designed to provide lots of insights and motivation along the way.

By following a training schedule that’s specific for a 5K race, you’re more likely to see better results and improve your PR.

Add speed work

Speed workouts are essential for anyone who wants to run a faster 5K. If you’re aiming for a better PR, incorporate speed sessions into your training, including intervals where you sprint for short bursts of time.

Because sprinting can be hard on the body, make sure to start off with shorter sprints and gradually extend the length of time you feel comfortable running at an increased speed. For instance, you could start by adding sprints of 200m or 400m followed by an appropriate recovery period. As you get closer to race day, your body should be able to handle 800m or even 1km speed sessions.

Try some hill training

Try some hill training

To build up speed and develop muscle power, there’s nothing better than some short sharp hills. Hill running is great to strengthen up your leg muscles, increase your aerobic capacity and optimize your overall running technique.

Find a hill with a moderate slope (about six to 10 percent incline) that’s about 100-200 meters long. While running up the hill, keep your effort consistent and don’t let your running form fall apart. Recover by easy jogging or walking downhill backwards to avoid pressure on the knees.

To avoid injuries, incorporate hill training gradually. Start with 5-6 repeats and add another one each week, with a maximum of ten repeats.

Get stronger

A stronger runner is a faster runner. To become more powerful and more efficient, you need to strengthen the muscles that make you move.

Therefore, don’t skip the squats, planks, lunges, step-ups, calf raises and bent over rows. These exercises will target your shins, calves, quads, glutes, and core in order to make them stronger and injury-free.

Increase mileage

Increase mileage

To beat your current personal time, you will need to develop your endurance. You can accomplish that goal by regularly increasing your mileage every week.

Escalating the length of your longest run will improve your cardiovascular fitness and make you feel good about just running 5k on race day. Just make sure you don’t increase your mileage by more than 10% each week and remember you are aiming to run at a slower pace on long runs than your race pace.

Two are Better than One: Valentine’s Day Instagram Contest

Instagram-contest-Valentines-Day

We’ve talked a lot about the benefits of training with a running partner. Meeting a buddy for a run can help you get out of bed even when you don’t feel like it, make you perform better and help you stick with your goals.

But what if that running date was… a date? You’ll find that working out with your special someone won’t just make you both fitter. You’ll gain more quality time with someone you care, you’ll share some of the added benefits of running and you’ll even spice things up in the bedroom.

To make it even easier to get you both off the couch and start training for your first 5K, we are giving away 2 Ease Into 5K apps for Valentine’s Day. To win, show us why two are better than one when hitting the pavement and follow these simple rules:

  1. Follow @bluefinapps on Instagram.
  2. Post a photo on Instagram that shows us why your sweaty sweetheart is the best running partner ever!
  3. Hashtag it #BFAValentine and tag @bluefinapps. Remember to direct message us if you’re private.
  4. No inappropriate pictures. Keep it clean!
  5. You have until 02/14/2015 11:59 pm EST to enter!
  6. Enter as many times as you would like.
  7. The winner will be chosen via random.org and will be announced on the 16th of February!

Good Luck!

4 Common Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Newbie or vet, the odds are the same: if you start running, it is very likely you’ll end up injuring yourself. At least half of all runners deal with at least one injury per year, and 25 percent of runners are injured at any given time.

Fortunately there are always preventative measures you can take to avoid the pain. The first one: know what type of injuries you can suffer from when you’re logging miles.

To help you stay safe and injury-free while working out, we’re now sharing four common injuries among runners, along with a few ways to prevent and stop the pain.

Runner’s Knee

Runner's Knee

Experiencing a discomfort behind, below, or around the patella (or kneecap) is a symptom of patellofemoral pain syndrome, the medical term for knee pain. This tender pain usually presents itself in gradual stages and gets worse while running or walking up and down stairs.

Knee pain can have a number of different causes, including repetitive force of pounding on the pavement, downhill running, strength imbalances, weakness in the hip muscles, and excessive or insufficient pronation.

To prevent it, experts’ advice is to strengthen the lower body, especially the quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, and glutes. If you’re already dealing with knee pain, opt for flat or uphill terrain and softer running surfaces. To treat the injury, experts suggest knee braces, anti-inflammatory medications, and if necessary, reducing the amount of running you do.

IT Band Pain

Iliotibial Band (IT band) Friction Syndrome triggers pain near the outside of the knee, due to the inflammation of the Iliotibial band, a thick tendon that stretches from the pelvic pone down the tibia. This injury represents about 12 percent of all running-related injuries and is very common among distance runners and marathon racers.

The IT band pain can be caused by excessive increased mileage, downhill running or unidirectional track running, stiff shoes, high-arched feet, and weakness in the hips and glute muscles.

To avoid it, you should work your lower body strength and follow a running plan that gradually increases your mileage and includes diversity to your training. To decrease inflammation and reduce pain, experts recommend specific stretches as well as icing, foam rolling, and taking a break from running if the pain persists.

Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles Tendinitis
Achilles Tendonitis occurs when the tendon is under too much stress and becomes irritated.

This injury is typically the result of rapid mileage increase, excessive amounts of interval training, hill running, improper footwear, tight calf muscles or insufficient recovery time between workouts.

You can prevent it by strengthening your calf muscles and stretching them after your workout, and wear shoes that offer more medial support.

To treat achilles tendinitis, you should back off on the types of workouts that put extra stress on the tendon, such as interval training and hill climbing. Add some rest, anti-inflammatories, stretching, icing and you’ll get back on the path to recovery in no time.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are one of the most common injuries among novice runners and those returning after an extended layoff. The main symptom is a pain (aching, stabbing sensation) felt along the shin bone. Although this is not a serious injury, it could lead to a stress fracture, if left untreated.

Shin Splints can result from increasing workout mileage or intensity too quickly, running on hard surfaces, wearing the wrong shoe or a pair with too many miles, and tight calf muscles.

To avoid them, you can take some preventative measures, such as strengthening your lower body muscles and investing in sneakers with shock-absorbing insoles that support the arch. If you’re already looking for treatment, try icing the shins for 15-20 minutes and keeping them elevated at night to reduce swelling.

Have you already dealt with any of these injuries? How did they affect your training plans?

Yoga for Runners: 5 Poses You Should Try

Are you feeling sore, tight, or even achy after a run? Then you should probably review your cross-training program and consider including yoga in your workout routine.

Among other benefits, Yoga can reduce the risk of injury, improve your strength and flexibility and help you to recover from long runs and races faster.

If you’re willing to give it a try, here are five poses you should practice on the mat to boost your performance as a runner:

Downward-Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog

Benefits: Helps prevent shin splints, knee and foot problems, and IT-band syndrome. This pose stretches the hamstrings and calves, and creates length in the spine, in addition to opening the arms and upper back.

Instructions: Start on hands and knees. Bring the hands shoulder width apart and feet hip width apart. Press your hands and feet down into the floor. Lift your hip bones straight toward the ceiling and push your heels into the ground for the best overall stretch. Hold for five to 10 breaths.

Upward-Facing Dog

Upward-Facing Dog Position

Benefits: Strengthens your core and arms, while opening the hip flexors and stretching the whole front of the body.

Instructions: From Downward-Facing Dog pose, move into low plank position, by bending your elbows and placing your hands on mat in line with your lower ribs, wrists aligned under your elbows. Roll over your toes, pull your chest up toward ceiling and lift fronts of your thighs and hips away from floor.

Triangle

Triangle pose

Benefits: This pose helps to release the tension in your hips and glutes. In addition, it stretches the hamstrings and inner thighs and allows you to open and expand laterally.

Instructions: Step your feet wide apart. Turn your right leg, including your thigh, knee and foot, out by 90 degrees. Raise your arms to shoulder level with your palms facing down towards the floor and, on an exhale, stretch your upper body to the right. Place your right hand on your shin, ankle, or a stable support and raise your left arm towards the ceiling, with your palm facing forward. Take five breaths. Inhale and allow your body to come to standing. Repeat the pose on the other side.

Cobbler

Cobbler pose

Source: Bliss

 

Benefits: This pose opens the lower back, hips and inner thighs and also helps to release tight adductors.

Instructions: Sitting, bend your knees and draw your heels in toward your pelvis. Press the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop open to both sides. Don’t force your knees down to the ground, but let them drop naturally so you feel a gentle stretch. Lie down on your back and hold this pose for 1-10 minutes.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose

Benefits: Stretches the thighs, groins, back, and psoas. This pose also improves the flexibility in your hips, which will lead to better running form.

Instructions: Stretch your right leg out behind you, and bend your left knee so that your left foot is near your right pelvic bone with your toes pointed. Gently drape your body over the right leg. Repeat on the opposite side.

Is Yoga one of your favorite cross-training exercises? Which poses work best for you?

Five weight loss tips for runners

Weight Loss by Running

Running burns out more calories than nearly any other exercise out there. The average man burns 124 calories per mile and the average woman burns 105, which makes running an extremely efficient way to lose weight. But it doesn’t always work the way you’d hope. Unwanted weight gain can happen to even the most health-savvy runner, specially if you don’t pay attention to the small details.

If you want to use running to lose weight, or you’ve hit a weight loss wall, here are some tips on how to be successful:

#1: Find out your caloric needs

Runners tend to overcompensate for the calories burned during their runs. This is actually a very common mistake and some runners even find that they gain weight, despite their training efforts.

If you want to stay healthy and lose weight by running, you must first determine how many calories you need and keep in mind that you’ll only shed pounds if you burn more calories than you consume.

To get a better estimate of how many calories you burn during your workout, you can use our running apps, or an online calculator, like Runner’s World’s Calories Burn Calculator.

#2: Fuel your training

Even tough runners have special nutritional needs, all the ground rules of healthy eating still apply. So, bad news, runners: you can’t just put that chocolate-covered donut in your mouth after your run.

The healthiest way to lose weight while replenishing your energy stores is to combine the right amount of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. You should also choose smaller portions over big meals and start eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

#3: Keep a food journal

One efficient way to prevent you from consuming too many calories is to keep a daily log of what you eat. It’s much easier to improve your diet and eliminate certain foods from it when you have a record of how many calories they add to your total intake.
In fact, a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health showed that participants who kept a food log doubled their weight loss.

#4: Don’t run on empty

Have you ever heard that your body will burn more fat it you run on an empty stomach? If you did, forget it.

Instead of burning fat immediately, your body uses the carbs stored in your muscles first. When those run out and your body starts to burn fat, your energy levels decrease abruptly, forcing you to slow down and burn fewer calories than if you had properly fueled up.

To avoid feeling exhausted after a few miles, you should fuel your training for optimal performance. Try eating a 150-calorie snack containing easily digestible carbs and a little protein one hour before your workout.

#5: Log more miles and increase intensity

There’s no doubt: the more miles you run, the more calories you burn. According to the National Runners Health Study, runners who ran the greatest amount of weekly mileage were the leanest. Therefore, if you want to lose weight while running, you need to extend your runs every week.

In addition to logging more miles, you should be increasing intensity as well, which can translate in incorporating more speed work or interval training into your running routine. These workouts increase your muscle mass and improve your resting metabolism, causing you to burn more calories throughout the day.

Is running helping you to lose weight? What other weight loss strategies worked for you? Share them in the comments below.