Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

63 Ways to Shake Up Your Running Routine

Since we went over tips for a new runner, here is another list for a more experienced runner getting bored with their monotonous daily runs or for those who have hit a plateau and can’t seem to go that extra mile or speed up their pace.

  1. Bored with the roads?  Try trail running. 
  2. Try an “alternative” running form.  The Pose method and Chi Running both offer what they claim to be more efficient ways of running than the traditional form.
  3. Kill your legs in the gym.  Front squats, cleans, and deadlifts were the lifts we all hated when we were trying to beef up in college, but they’re the ones that will do the most to help you get more power from your legs.  There’s an obscure routine called Curtis P’s that I really like because it blends several of these lifts and can help boost endurance.
  4. Go to a local high school track once a week.  If you’ve never done any speedwork before, you’ll likely see big returns on your track workouts almost right from the start.
  5. You’d have to live in a cave to have missed the swelling barefoot running movement.  But it’s not just barefoot—there are all kinds of minimalist shoes to simulate barefoot running.  From Vibram Fivefingers to Newtons, it seems every shoe manufacturer is paying more attention to the minimalist running movement.  Runblogger has a good guide to minimalist running shoes.  (But before you buy in, check out this interesting anti-barefoot site.)
  6. Are you carrying around some extra weight?  As long as you’re not dipping below what’s healthy, you can expect to shave two seconds off every mile for each pound lost.  If you were to lose those extra 10 pounds, imagine what mile splits that are 20 seconds faster would do for your motivation to run.
  7. Our bodies naturally produce some creatine, a compound which helps supply energy to muscle.  We can get a lot more of it from meat, but since we’re not about that, supplementing is one option.  Supplementing with creatine has been shown to increase strength in athletes, and most people now believe it’s perfectly safe (you should do your own research, of course).
  8. Heart rate training is a fun way to incorporate biofeedback into your runs.  Rather than simply guessing at your threshold training intensity or the proper pace for a long run, for example, you can determine the heart rate zones that correspond to these intensities and shoot to stay in those zones for prescribed amounts of time.
  9. You don’t see much written about breathing exercises for runners, but I’ve found them to be a great way to pass the time when the miles aren’t ticking off quite as fast as you’d like them to.  My favorite is one borrowed from Chi Running—breathe out for three steps, in for two steps.  Out for three steps, in for two steps…  Another one is described in a post about a 30-mile training run I did.
  10. Throwing money at the problem isn’t a good habit to be in, but forking over some cash for a good pre- and  post-workout drink may help you get out of a rut.  Performance benefits aside, I find myself obligated to work out harder because I want to get the most out of what I spent my hard-earned money on.  Check out Vega Sport, my favorite pre-workout drink.
  11. An alternative to #10: You don’t have to buy any expensive products to get what your body needs before, during, and after workouts.  With just a little planning and effort, you can make all your running fuel, from drinks to gels to bars.
  12. Experiment with restricting sugar intake before and during your long runs.  New (and old) runners often think sugar = energy, and that’s certainly true.  But you can train your body to burn fat for fuel, which lasts much longer since it preserves your glycogen levels.  
  13. Get tribal.  By now, everyone knows about the Tarahumara, Mexico’s tribe of incredible ultrarunners and the subject of Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run. Try fueling with pinole and chia, making your own huaraches sandals, or running for the pure joy of it like the Tarahumara do.
  14. Read a great running book.  Not another training guide, but a book that will inspire you, a book that will remind you why you dedicate so many hours to this sport.  For me, that book was the aforementioned Born to Run.  For others, it’s John Parker’s Once a Runner.  What’s yours?
  15. Try speeding up your long runs if you’re targeting a certain time in your race.  The idea that your long run pace should be 1-2 minutes slower per mile than your race pace is almost gospel, but many find that running faster better prepares them for race day.  Just make sure you’re recovering.
  16. When people ask me how to avoid shin injuries, something I struggled with for years, the answer I give them is “increase your foot turnover to 180 steps per minute.”  It seems fast, but the result is many short, light steps as opposed to fewer heavy ones.  And shins that don’t hurt.  This is also the turnover rate favored by many of the world’s best runners, so injuries or not, you might find it helps you run faster.
  17. Update your running playlist.  Of all the ideas here, this may the simplest, fastest way to breathe new life into your training schedule.
  18. Lose your easy run days and cross train instead.  If you’re feeling burnt out, physically or mentally, give yourself a break by cycling, swimming, or doing any other low-impact, non-weight-bearing activity.  This controversial approach is advocated by the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training in the book Run Less, Run Faster.
  19. Sign up for a race.  We’ve all talked about races we’d like to do this year, only to slack off and forget about them altogether.  If you want to drastically increase the chances of your following through to train for a race, sign up.  Putting up your money and marking it on your calendar makes it real.
  20. Find a partner and commit to something.  Together.  In addition to the companionship and in-this-together-mentality, training with a friend adds one important ingredient—accountability.  It’s a lot harder to hit the snooze button when you know you’ll be letting a friend down.
  21. Running clubs are all over the place.  It’s amazing how many people so close to you are even bigger running addicts than you are (and how many great runners there are everywhere).  Find a runner’s club near you today.
  22. Find a guru.  There are so many coaches who know so much more about running than any of us can ever hope to.  For me, Jack Daniels, Pete Pfitzinger, and Greg McMillan come to mind, all of whom have published mounds of tips and training programs.
  23. If all you ever run is marathons, spend a spring and summer trying to PR in a 5K.  Or better yet, a mile.  And if you’ve done six half marathons, maybe it’s time to go all the way.  Hey, they say if you can run 13 miles, you can run 26, right?
  24. Eat better.  In addition to potentially losing weight, you just might find that eating better makes you want to train harder. 
  25. If you always run the same route, change it.  Completely.  Even if you don’t have a GPS, you can plot your route and get the exact mileage at Map My Run or Gmaps Pedometer.
  26. Run to get someone else in shape.  Human beings will do far more for other people than they ever would for themselves, so if you’re having trouble getting out there, make it about someone else.  A family member, a friend, a dog.  Somebody out there would love to be coached by an experienced runner like yourself.
  27. Lead a pacegroup.  When I made my first serious run at qualifying for Boston, I ran with the 3:10 pace group for as long as I could.  I didn’t make it that day, but as I was running, I realized what a tremendous sense of gratitude I felt for the guys leading the group.  I can only imagine how great it would feel to help so many people reach their goal.  Warning: In order to be a pacer, most races will require that you’ve run several races a good bit faster than the time you’d like to pace.
  28. Be a volunteer.  If injury or some other reason prevents you from running that race you had hoped to, help hand out water or work the finish line at a race.  The runners appreciate it, you get inspired, everyone wins.
  29. Running is such an individual sport, but doing a relay is way to make it about the team.  Try the popular multi-day Ragnar Relays—I mean, what’s not to love about 200 miles and 6 to 12 people crammed into a couple of vans for a few days?
  30. Sooner or later it seems everyone gets the itch to do a triathlon.  If you’re feeling like you need something to mix up your routine a little bit, maybe now’s the time to make it happen.  Check out Susan’s tips on making the transition from runner to triathlete.
  31. Want to enjoy running, run longer before you get tired, and get injured less?  Then slow down for a few weeks.  Like, by a minute or two per mile.  Nobody ever said running had to be about racing.
  32. Run for a cause.  Team in Training is the big one, but there are plenty of others, like Team Vegan.  And there’s a side called Crowdrise that allows you to raise money for any cause, like this runner is doing for Farm Sanctuary.
  33. Pick a huge goal.  Maybe it’s a half marathon, a marathon, an ultra, or winning a race.  Who knows.  Make it one that will make your friends laugh when you tell them about it.  That’s how you pick an inspiring goal.  Then focus every day until you make it happen.  One warning: Shoot for the stars, but give yourself a reasonable time frame, be flexible, and listen to your body.
  34. Join DailyMile.  It’s Facebook meets Twitter meets your running journal.  And the people there are awesome.
  35. Study the mental game of running.  Matt Fitzgerald’s Brain Training for Running is one that’s on my list of to-reads.
  36. Ultramarathons seem to scare a lot of people.  If you’re thinking about running one but aren’t sure about it, crew for somebody running one.  Chances are you’ll be able to run with them for some leg of the race, but check the rules of the specific race.  You’ll get a feel for just how long an ultra is and what running trails is like if you’ve never done that.  And there’s nothing like helping someone do something incredible to make you want to do it yourself.
  37. If it’s nagging injuries that are keeping you down, try foam rolling.  It’ll soften muscle tissue and help reduce the likelihood of injury.  It hurts like hell at first, but eventually it feels like a hard massage.  If you want to try it without plunking down 20 bucks for a foam roller at Target, you can use a tennis ball to hit several trigger points and see how “great”  it feels.
  38. Kill the hill!  Find a long hill that’ll take you three or four minutes to run hard up.  When you get there, turn around and run back down slowly, for five minutes.  Repeat four to eight times.
  39. Get into Parkour.  I’m hesitant to call this running, and it’s sort of weird, but I must say I’m fascinated by Parkour, the art of traversing terrain (buildings and all) as efficiently as possible.  I’ve never tried it, but it’d be a pretty badass form of cross-training.  Check out this comprehensive Parkour beginner’s guide from Nerd Fitness, if for no other reason than to be entertained for a few minutes by the video.
  40. Run at night.  Okay, be careful with this one, as it requires reflective gear, running with a partner, and a headlamp.  But there’s no reason to restrict your running to the daytime, especially if you have a safe place to run that’s mostly free of traffic.  Any night running I’ve done has been on trails, and always in a group, so that’s all I can recommend.
  41. Core training has become a bit of a cliche. But there’s no doubt it works and can make you a stronger runner, especially if you run trails, which requires a wider variety of movements than does road running.  I personally like the Core Performance books, including their Endurance and Essentials programs, for their focus on form, efficiency, and the ability to do the exercises without joining a gym.
  42. Be a numbers nerd—there’s tons of data you can use to measure your progress and help you train better.  Time, speed, distance, elevation change, heart rate, calories burned, all of which can be measured or estimated with a single device on your wrist nowadays.  What’s more motivating than seeing your progress in cold, hard numbers?
  43. Some people have this idea that you can only race a few times per year or season.  While it’s true that if you’re looking for PR’s in longer distances, you should probably only race every few months, there’s no reason a fit runner can’t do a lot of long races each year.  So if you’re looking for a change, plan a race every month or even a race every week, depending on your fitness level.
  44. Try bigger shoes.  Stu Mittleman, an American ultrarunner who once ran 1000 miles in less than 12 days, claims that the vast majority of people run in shoes that are way too small, often by one or two sizes!  Mittleman says your toes should be a full thumb-width from the front of your shoes.  Some of Stu’s ideas are a little out there, but if you’re not getting the results you want or you’re having foot problems, it’s worth a try.
  45. If you always run for miles, run for time.  If you always run for time, run for miles.
  46. Meditate while you run.  Several books on meditation (not running) mention that exercise is an ideal time for meditating because of the repetitive movement, lack of distraction, and ability to focus on simple things while you run.  Leo at Zen Habits has a great post on Zen running; try it during your next long run and you find yourself with two hours to spare.
  47. Yet another way to add variety to your long run: Make it a progressive run, one in which your speed gradually increases as you get further into the run.  Running Planet has a good post about different types of progressive runs.
  48. Try being a minimalist runner.  In addition to getting a pair of minimalist shoes, ditch the watch, Garmin, heart rate monitor, iPod, everything.  Enjoy.
  49. Find a way to race a person, not just a clock.  You can just pick some rando in front of you on your next run, but I promise you it’s much more fun if they know about it.
  50. Watch a great running movie.  Two that make me want to lace up my shoes: Spirit of the Marathon and Running the Sahara.
  51. Run every day for a month.  Jack Daniels says that when you’re so tired you want to stop running, try running faster.  When I was in a funk last year and didn’t feel like running, I tried running every day to break out of it.  Another interesting idea: Blaine from Run to Win suggested running one mile the first day, two the second day, three the third day, and so on for as long as possible.  Hey, at least the first week is easy!
  52. Become a superhero.  I love this idea from Nerd Fitness: Create a persona, complete with name, attitude, goal, theme song, and (optionally) costume.  When it’s time to train, be that character.  Go crazy with it!  You don’t have to tell anyone.
  53. Don’t ignore your upper body.  While a lot of muscle mass with eventually slow you down, strength can only help.  Rather than heavy bench presses or bicep curls, try bodyweight exercises.
  54. Try compression gear.  Compression socks work amazingly well at keeping your legs and feet from getting sore on long runs.  I’ve noticed little benefit from compression shorts, however.
  55. Create while you run.  Whether you’re an artist, a student, or a businessperson, it’s worth it to try brainstorming about a project during your next mid-length run.  Many find that their focus and creativity are heightened after 20 to 30 minutes of relaxed running.  For me, a little bit of caffeine from green tea or yerba mate helps the process along.
  56. It’s not really my thing, but a lot of runners like to listen to a running podcast during their long runs.  RunningPodcasts.org has a directory of what must be 100 different ones to choose from and subscribe to.
  57. Work short speed intervals into your normal runs.  While the term “speedwork” might be intimidating to some, it doesn’t have to be.  You don’t even need to go to the track.  Simply run at near-sprint pace for 30-second or 1-minute intervals, depending on what you can handle, with 2- to 3-minute rests in between.  As you get stronger, increase the interval length and decrease the rest.
  58. Any decent running store will offer group runs on certain nights of the week.  Usually they attract runners of a variety of fitness levels, so you’ll almost certainly find someone to run with.
  59. If you’re one of the select few in this world whose idea of a perfect vacation involves lots of running, why not plan a trip around it?  Your running vacation could be as simple as a destination race, or as involved as a two-week running tour of an island or country.
  60. If you have a big race coming up, get yourself something nice to run it in.  Just make sure you wear it at least once beforehand, to make sure it’s comfortable.
  61. Runners, especially ultrarunners, like to celebrate the end of hard run (or the start, I’ve seen it) with a cold beer.  The two go together great, and there are lots of “drinking clubs with a running problem” out there.  Check out Beer Runner, a blogger for Draft Magazine who posts about this match made in heaven.
  62. Try walking.  Former Olympian Jeff Galloway popularized the walk/run method, in which runners take short walk breaks (usually a minute or less) every few minutes or miles, depending on speed and fitness.  While it might seem wimpy and is arguably better for first-time marathoners, Galloway claims that many marathoners have broken three hours for the first time by implementing a walk/run plan.
  63. Find a great running blog.  I’ve made it easy for you: Follow the links in this post and you’ll find lots of them.  Or, better yet, start your own.

What’s your favorite way to mix things up?

via No Meat Athlete

Unhealthy Celebrity Diets

It seems like all of my female friends have their faces stuffed in the latest US weekly or People Magazine on a fairly regular basis. Aside from showing celebrities tying their shoes, going out to dinner, and shopping for groceries, these magazines often glamorize celebrity diets.  The funny thing is, they try to show us these diets are so healthy and work so well, yet the people writing these articles don’t know the first thing about fitness.  That being said, even smart, intelligent women (and some men) buy into the diet claims these magazines and celebrities are making because it all sounds too good to be true.  What they don’t realize is they are only setting themselves up for failure in the long run.

With pictures of rail-thin celebrities gracing the pages, a seed of self-doubt may already be planted in our heads.  When we hear that Lindsay Lohan lost 20 pounds on her total cleanse diet (i.e. cigarettes and coke), we instantly think that these diets are healthy, and will work for us.  Let’s take a look at some of the celeb diets that have been featured in various magazines over the last year:

Anthony Hopkins  – “I was addicted to bread, cookies, whatnot. I love all the bad stuff,” he said. “My wife’s no dictator, but she said I must stick to a regimen. So I’m in the gym six days a week, I power walk, live on 800 calories a day. No pasta. No seconds. A sandwich occasionally.”  So, Anthony Hopkins is relying on a caloric intake that is recommended to sustain a 3-year-old child.  Does anyone really think he can survive on 800 calories a day for the rest of his life?  Of course not.  The weight is going to come right back on when he realizes this bogus diet is good for short-term weight loss but horrible for long-term health.

Kirstie Alley – Kirstie Alley has probably tried every diet under the sun.  Let this be a lesson to you.  Fad diets do not work.  If they did, she wouldn’t be blowing up and slimming down every few months for the past decade and a half. 

Jennifer Aniston – For a while, it was reported that Aniston was on a strict baby food only diet.  Aside from being a little weird, this diet provides nowhere near the calories needed for an average adult.  We preach lifestyle changes on here, not fad diets; are you really going to bring your two little jars of pureed sweet potatoes and stewed green beans to the next dinner party attend?  I don’t think so – get real.

Beyonce Knowles – Beyonce dropped an unbelievable (and dangerous) 20 pounds in two weeks on the “Master Cleanse Diet,” (a.k.a. The Lemonade Diet). On the Master Cleanse Diet, you drink a beverage (no food) made from lemons, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for 10 days. You’ll see a dramatic weight loss… if you don’t drop dead first. Plus, too much crash dieting will trick your body into storing fat instead of burning it.

Naomi Campbell – Aside from being a raving lunatic, she is also a horrible dieter.  Naomi has been known to diet on a mixture of maple syrup, cayenne pepper, water and lemon juice three times a year.  She consumes this drink and this drink only for weeks at a time.

Nicole Kidman – When trying to slim down for a movie Nicole often goes on a hard-boiled egg diet. The Australian used to have an egg in the morning and 2 to 3 eggs throughout the day.  I suppose when you have to look a certain way for a film, because it is your job, a crazy diet like this may be acceptable.  However, the problem is the magazines purport that these diets are beneficial and give them impression that others should try to replicate them.

Mary Kate Olson – Mary Kate often employs what she calls, “The Coffee Diet”.  She consumes up to 12 cups of coffee a day, which she claims helps her lose weight.  She’ll often stay on this diet for weeks at a time.  Coffee is an appetite suppressant which really curbs her appetite and let’s her get by on next to nothing.  Give this diet a try if you want to look like you are living through a third-world famine, otherwise steer clear.

Clearly, these diets are not a long-term fix for anything.  They have the potential to cause serious harm, nutrient deficiencies in your body, and potentially cause your body to store more fat in the long run.  Healthy, and sustained, weight loss is the result of a lifestyle change.  Forget crash diets.  Sure, they work for celebrities who want to drop serious pounds before their next movie premiere, but this is the reason we are always reading about all these different diets.  If there was a sure-fire diet that worked all the time, everyone would use it and that would be that.  The fact there are dozens of these crazy diets clearly indicates they do not work. 

Work on your portion sizes, food selections, and being in touch with your body so you don’t overeat.  These are three tips all the celebrities above could use.  Be smart and diet right and you will drop pounds slowly and steadily, but most importantly, keep the weight off for good.

100 Beginner Running Tips

Apparel Tips

  1. Wear spandex shorts under your regular running shorts so you don’t chafe “down there.”
  2. Cotton socks will only lead to blisters; invest in socks designed for running.
  3. Ladies, do not skimp on a bra. Even if it costs more than your shoes it’s still a bargain.
  4. Buy running clothes you look good in and that will motivate you to run.
  5. Buy new running clothes at the end of the season when stores dump the old season’s line. Think clearance! 

    Community

     

  6. Join your local running club—check with your local running store fitness center and/or recreation department to find one.
  7. Volunteer at a local race—meet runners support runners and connect with your Community. 

    Manners

     

  8. Remember to say “Thank You!” to race volunteers (e.g. when you get that cup of water at the aid station) and family and friends who support you.
  9. Conscientiously share the trail with walkers, bikers and other runners.
  10. Always try to balance running with the people you love by making a schedule that involves and is considerate of everyone.
  11. Don’t carry loose change. It will annoy those who are running with you.
  12. Don’t neglect and irritate your family and friends by spending all your time running and talking about running. 

    Motivation Tips

     

  13. Sign up for a race as soon as you feel up to it.
  14. Find a committed running partner. It is much harder to skip a run when you have someone else depending on you.
  15. Remember that you will have plateaus in your progress and tough days along the way.
  16. It gets easier.
  17. Accept and appreciate the fact that not every single run can be a good one.
  18. Be prepared to remove the words “can’t” and “never” from your vocabulary.
  19. “Do not compare yourself to others. Run within yourself and for yourself first.
  20. Don’t expect every run to be better than the last one; some of them will hurt.
  21. Don’t think too much about it or you won’t do it.
  22. Even a bad run is better then no run at all.
  23. If you normally run with music try skipping it and listening to your feet to hear your pace and your gait.
  24. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t experience weight loss immediately.
  25. Start a running blog and read other running blogs regularly.
  26. Running is not an excuse to triple your intake of doughnuts because runners gain weight too. 

    Nutrition Tips

     

  27. Buy the powdered sports drink mix instead of premixed. It’s cheaper and more similar to race drink mixes.
  28. Each pound you lose makes running a little easier.
  29. Hydrate. Make it a habit to drink water throughout the day.
  30. If you are running very long distance drink enough electrolytes (e.g. Gatorade).
  31. On long runs eat something every hour—whether you feel like it or not.
  32. During longer runs if you don’t like to carry water take some cash in your pocket pouch or a shoe wallet. Run a route where there’s a corner store that you can use as a pit stop to pick up your water and maybe use the bathroom.
  33. Avoid eating spicy foods before running and the night before your long runs.
  34. To aid recovery the most crucial time to eat and drink is in the hour immediately after you run. 

    Prevention Tips

     

  35. Use Vaseline or BodyGlide wherever things rub. They will help prevent blisters and chafing (guys don’t forget the nipples).
  36. Do not increase your mileage more than 10 percent per week.
  37. Guys: Band-Aids before the long runs. Your nipples will thank you in the shower afterwards.
  38. Log your mileage for your legs and your Shoes. Too much on either will cause you injury.
  39. If you are prone to shin splints and lower leg pain try running soft trails for your training runs and save the asphalt for race day.
  40. Do not run two hard days back-to-back.
  41. Ice aches and pains immediately.
  42. Pay attention to your form. Try to run lightly to minimize impact that could lead to injury.
  43. Cut your Training by at least 30 percent to 50 percent every 4th or 5th week for recovery.
  44. When trail running don’t forget the bug spray.
  45. Neosporin (or another antibiotic cream) is good for chafed areas (if you didn’t use your BodyGlide!).
  46. Make sure you cut your toenails short enough so they don’t jam into your Shoes!
  47. Put some BodyGlide between your toes on long runs.
  48. Be careful about running on paths that force you to run consistently on a slant. It’s hard on the hips knees and IT bands.
  49. Don’t stretch before a run. Warm up by walking briskly or jogging slowly for several minutes.
  50. Do not ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.
  51. Do not use the hot tub after a race. It will increase inflammation and hinder healing.
  52. Frozen peas make a great ice pack for aches and pains. A thin t-towel wrapped around them makes the cold more comfortable. 

    Racing Tips

     

  53. Race day is not the day to try new shoes, eat new foods, or wear brand new clothing.
  54. Do not try a marathon as your first race.
  55. For races longer than 5k start out slower than you think you should.
  56. If you conserve your energy during the first half of a race, you can finish strong.
  57. When you pick up drinking cups at aid stations, squeeze gently so it folds slightly and is easier to drink from it while you are moving.
  58. A plastic garbage on race day is a very fashionable cheap disposable raincoat. 

    Safety Tips

     

  59. Be aware of cyclists approaching you from behind and try to keep to the right. Try to pay special attention when running with music.
  60. Run facing traffic.
  61. Never assume a car sees you.
  62. Give horses wide berths on trails and walk as you pass them unless you enjoy a hoof to the melon.
  63. Always carry I.D. because you just never know. 

    Shoe Tips

     

  64. Try shoes on in the afternoon when your feet are bigger.
  65. Doubleknot your shoe laces so they will not come undone when you run.
  66. Buy yourself some actual running shoes from an actual running store because running in junk “sneakers” will destroy your feet and your legs.
  67. Get assessed for the right kind of running shoes. 

    Training Tips

     

  68. In the immortal words of Walt Stack famed senior-citizen distance runner “Start slow … and taper.”
  69. At first keep your runs short and slow to avoid injury and soreness so you do not quit.
  70. If you are breathing too hard slow down or walk a bit until you feel comfortable again.
  71. Pick your route close to home (out your front door)—the more convenient it is the better chance you will have sticking with it.
  72. Find a beginner training plan for your first race.
  73. Set realistic short term and long term goals.
  74. Keep a training diary.
  75. Soreness one to two days after a run is normal (delayed onset muscle soreness).
  76. No amount of money spent on gadget training programs or funny food can substitute for minutes, hours, days and weeks on the road.
  77. There’s no shame in walking.
  78. Subscribe to a running magazine or pick up a book or two on running.
  79. Four laps around the local the high school track equals one mile.
  80. Lift weights.
  81. It’s okay to take walk breaks (run 1 minute walk 1 minute then progress to run 10 minutes walk 1 minute etc.).
  82. Vary your training routes. This will prevent boredom and prevent your body from getting acclimated.
  83. Speed work doesn’t have to be scientific. Try racing to one light post and then jogging to the next.
  84. Push through rough spots by focusing on the sounds of your breath and feet touching the ground.
  85. Do speedwork after you develop an endurance base.
  86. Practice running harder in the last half of your runs.
  87. Do abdominal breathing to get rid of side cramps or “stitches.”
  88. If you can’t find the time to run, take your running gear to work.
  89. Run on trails if at all possible. It will be easier on your body and you’ll love it.
  90. Build rest into your schedule. Rest is just as important of an element as exercise in your fitness plan.
  91. Forgive yourself. Over-ambitious goals usually lead to frustration and giving up on your fitness plan. If you miss a goal or milestone let it go and focus on the next opportunity to get it.
  92. Mix-up your training plan. Make sure your training plan is not too heavily focused on one thing. No matter what level of runner you are your training plan should include four essential elements: endurance speed rest cross-training. 

    Weather Tips

     

  93. Dress as if it is 10 degrees warmer than the temperature on the thermometer.
  94. Wear sunscreen and a hat when the sun is beating down—even in winter.  
  95. Run early in the morning or later in evening to avoid mid-day heat.
  96. Pick up a pair of Yaktrax when running in icey conditions.
  97. In the winter dress in layers (coolmax or other technical clothing) and wear a headband over your running hat to cover your ears.
  98. For colder climates invest in socks rated to 40 below (usually found in sport/ski shops).
  99. To keep cool in hot weather soak a bandana in cold water wring it out a bit and tie it loosely around your neck.
  100. For hot weather fill your water bottle about half way lay it at an angle in the freezer and just before you head out for your run top it off with more water.

Once you have master these, check out:

63 Ways to Shake Up Your Running Routine

Article Via CompleteRunning.com

25 Motivational Fitness Quotes

1. Strive for progress, not perfection. -Unknown
2. You want me to do something… tell me I can’t do it. -Maya Angelou
3. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. -Wayne Gretzky
4. If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying. -Unknown
5. You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted. -Ruth E. Renkl
6. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. -Mahatma Gandhi
7. Motivation will almost always beat mere talent. -Norman R. Augustine
8. I’d rather be a failure at something I enjoy than a success at something I hate. -George Burns
9. Energy and persistence conquer all things. -Benjamin Franklin
10. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
11. No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. -Aesop
12. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein
13. Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. -Lou Holtz
14. Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. -Jim Ryan
15. I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. -Michael Jordan
16. Fear is what stops you… courages is what keeps you going. -Unknown
17. The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race. -Unknown
18. The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline. -Steve Smith
19. Just do it.™ -Nike
20. In seeking happiness for others, you find it for yourself. -Anonymous
21. The secret of getting ahead is getting started. -Mark Twain
22. It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. -Anonymous
23. Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. -Oprah Winfrey
24. It’s never too late to become what you might have been. -George Elliot
25. Clear your mind of can’t. -Samuel Johnson

Diabetes: Are you at Risk?

For many of us, the thought of ever developing diabetes is the furthest thing from our mind.  Maybe it’s because we don’t really know much about the disease, or we subscribe to the mentality that we are bullet-proof and nothing will ever harm us.  Both are common among a large portion of Americans.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects the way our cells receive glucose (energy).  When elevated levels of glucose is present in the bloodstream, such as after a meal, the pancreas releases a substance called insulin.  Insulin helps move the glucose in our bloodstream into the cells so they may use the glucose for energy.  In some people, their bodies’ do not provide enough insulin, produce no insulin at all, or have cells that do not respond appropriately to insulin.

Types of Diabetes

There are three types of diabetes a person can develop.

  • Diabetes Type 1 – Your body produces no insulin
  • Diabetes Type 2 – Your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or your body doesn’t handle the insulin produce properly.
  • Gestational Diabetes – You develop diabetes only during your pregnancy.

The purpose of this article is to look at the type of diabetes that is most affected by lifestyle choices, specifically your diet and levels of physical exercise.

Not surprisingly, the type of diabetes that we have the most control over whether or not we develop, is the most common.  This would be diabetes type 2.  An estimated 11 million people are currently living with diabetes type 2, with an additional 6 million who are living without knowledge of the disease as they have no seen any symptoms yet.

How Bad Do I Have to Get to Develop Diabetes?

Diabetes type 2 may seem like a problem for only the very obese and physically unfit individuals in our society.  Fact of the matter is, 90% of individuals who develop this type of diabetes are obese.  Not morbidly obese, just obese.  The medical definition of “obese” is generally accepted to mean a BMI of 30, or about 25 lbs. overweight.

The drawing of the woman to the right was created to show that a person doesn’t need to be hundreds of pounds overweight and bed-ridden to develop this devastating disease.  The drawing shows the typical body image of a woman with 40% body fat, a BMI of 30, and about 25 pounds above her natural weight for her height.

As a result, this illustrated woman would be a prime candidate for developing diabetes at some point in her life if she was unable or unwilling to lose her excess weight.

What Are The Effects?

Diabetes wreaks havoc inside our bodies, especially left untreated.  Some of the more serious consequences of type 2 diabetes include: high blood pressure, damage to blood vessels resulting in amputation, blindness, high cholesterol, stroke, glaucoma, kidney disease and failure, increased risk of infections, and nerve damage, to name a few.  If that isn’t enough, consider this:  The average person who develops diabetes has roughly 17 years shaved off their lifespan.

While there are treatment options out there that greatly reduce the risk of developing this complications, there is never a guarantee.  Your surest bet is to do everything in your power to avoid diabetes in the first place.

Daily insulin injections and blood readings are a fact of life for millions of Americans with diabetes.  While this is a necessary evil, it is something they would surely love to avoid if they had the choice.  If you want to avoid this way of living, change how you are living now.

What Can There Be Done?

By adopting a healthier lifestyle which includes eating low-fat, nutritious foods, actively engaging in physical fitness, and refraining from excessive alcohol and tobacco use, you drastically reduce your risk of ever developing this disease.  Studies show that individuals who do all of the above, as well as maintain a normal body weight have an 89% less risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  This is truly astounding.  The choices you make can almost guarantee you will ever have to face this terrible disease.

This is the reason you constantly hear the importance of physical exercise stressed so greatly.  The ability to almost entirely eliminate the likelihood of developing a disease that kills so many Americans each year is a great thing.  Imagine if a healthy diet and exercise could do the same for developing leukemia, or AIDS, or Parkinson’s disease.  How many more people would start exercising and eating right?  The fact of the matter is, people view themselves as less of a risk for developing diabetes, so they often ignore preventive measures that restrict their ability to develop the disease.

I’m Ready to Make a Change…Now What?

By investing just a little bit of time and money into getting your healthy lifestyle on track, you will be saving yourself much pain and anguish down the road.  Spend some time visiting with a registered dietitian who will get your eating on track.  Take some healthy fitness classes such as pilates, yoga, or a combo weight lifting/cardio style class.  Sign up for your local gym and actually GO.  Continue to check this site for additional health and fitness tips.  Bottomline, do everything in your power to make the changes you need to make.  If you are completely clueless as to what you should be doing, that’s okay. Share It Fitness was created to help people of all different skill levels achieve their healthy living goals.  If for some reason you don’t like what we have here, find another source to get your health and fitness information.  Whatever you do, find a plan that works for you and stick to it.  Your life is worth the upfront costs and time it takes to live happily and healthily for years to come.

Should You Exercise With A Cold?

 

Cold season is about to get going at full steam, and will no doubt put another obstacle in our journey to health and fitness.  When a cold hits and your throat is sore, nose is stuffed, and head aching, the last thing many people want to do is work out.  Often times, people will claim that working out will only make them sicker. 

This question is one that has surprisingly been researched very little.  Many exercise physiologists and doctors are confused as to whether or not they should recommend rest or exercise to people suffering from the common head cold. 

“That question has not been actually studied,” said Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society and the president of New Island Hospital in Bethpage, N.Y.

It seems that many people will take it on a case by case basis, and operate under their own conditions.  The more hardcore, old-school types will generally work out and claim to feel better.  Others will skip the workout and claim working out only makes their symptoms worse.  Dr. David Joyner, an exercise researcher at the Mayo clinic will continue to work out unless he is physically unable to get out of bed.  Dr. Joyner says, “I can tell you that unless I am really wiped out, I still work out but maybe scale back a bit.”

For those who will work out no matter what, there have been a couple studies that purport the benefits.  These two studies were on the small side, and published over a decade ago, but they look at the physiological and physical effects of exercise when a subject has a cold. 

First off, does a cold affect your ability to exercise?  Researchers examined this by deliberately infecting willing subjects with the rhinovirus, the most common cause of a head cold.  Before anyone was infected, all subjects’ lung capacity and exercise ability was tested.  This served as the basis to test against.  Two days after cold symptoms developed, researchers tested the subjects again.  The researchers, much to their own surprise, found that having a cold had no bearing whatsoever on lung capacity and exercise expenditure levels.

Another question the researchers wanted to answer; does exercise during  a cold affect your symptoms and recovery time?

Yet again, more subjects were infected with the rhinovirus.  Some of the subjects exercised while sick, others were instructed to rest.  The subjects that exercise spent time running on the treadmill for 40 minutes, every other day at a 70% max heart rate.  Thereafter, subjects were required to fill out a questionnaire about how they were feeling.  In addition researchers collected used tissues and weighed them to determine if mucus levels increased.

Again, the researchers were surprised to see that there was no difference in symptoms or time it took to recover for the group that exercised.  When some of the exercise group filled in their questionnaire, they responded that they felt OK, or in some instances, better than they had pre-exercise.

You may want to be cautious if you have a cold that produces a fever or a significant amount of chest congestion.  However, it appears that you should be perfectly fine, and your symptoms may improve, if you continue to work out when you have a common head cold. 

In addition, by sticking with your program, you lessen the chance that you lose your motivation and take one of those extended breaks you are fighting so hard to avoid.  By pushing through your illness, you will stay in your routine and not lose the psychological advantage you had built up prior to getting sick.  It may take a little extra willpower to get yourself to the gym when you are feeling sick, but in the short, and long-term, it’s well worth.

Don’t Let Post-Summer Blues Get You Out Of Your Routine…

If you are like most people, your motivation typically peaks in early June, subsides when fall hits, then picks back up for a month or two in early January.  This is the workout cycle of millions of people across the globe.  With fall well under way, your motivation to hit the gym is probably starting to wane.  You worked hard all summer to show off that (almost) six pack, but what’s the point now you may be asking.

I’ll be the first to admit, getting yourself to work out on a Monday evening after work, when it’s dark by 5:30, drizzly, and cold out is a bit tough.  The dark, cold weather is definitely a buzz kill and can sap the mental motivation of even the most determined individuals.  To make matters worse, the longer the “break” you take from working out, the harder it will be to get back into the swing of things. 

In order to achieve the body and lifestyle almost all of us crave, we cannot be seasonal warriors.  Working out hard for 6 months a year is great, but it’s the 6 months you’re not working out that is going to really hurt you.  One step forward and one step back gets you no where.  There’s no point in working out hard for part of the year only to lose all the gains you made.  Then, you start right back over when you start working out again.  How would it feel to have a six pack next summer, as opposed to the almost there, still soft, sorry excuse for a six pack that you’ll develop after a couple of months of working out and laying off the breakfast burritos. 

By working your body hard and then laying off for a few months, you condition your muscles and system in such a way that making long-lasting gains becomes more difficult.  If this cycle is repeated long-term, year after year, for multiple years, you’re going to need to work twice as hard to get where you want to be.  Since you are having a hard time working hard 12 months a year as it is, you can forget about ever having the body and lifestyle you want.

That said, not all breaks are bad.  After 3-4 months of serious exercise, it is good to take a solid 2 weeks off and let your body fully recover.  Often times, you will find you are stronger post-break than you were before taking time off.  Your muscles really regenerate themselves and come back twice as strong.  There is however always the danger that your two weeks off turns into many more.  This is where self-discipline and determination come into play.  Don’t view your time off as a vacation from exercise.  View it is an important part of the process in toning and developing your body.  Keep your eating habits during this two weeks off and make the break work for you, not against you.

In order to keep your motivation where it needs to be through the doldrums of winter, there are several things you can do;

  • Find indoor activities that you don’t typically take part in during the summer.  Start playing pick-up basketball at your gym once a week.  Get involved with group fitness classes.  Take up kick boxing.  The options are endless.  Bottomline, find something you wouldn’t typically do during the summer because you’d rather be outside.
  • In your workout journal, write down monthly goals for October-January.  Each month, give yourself a different goal you want to obtain.  Maybe its lose 10 pounds in the month of November.  Maybe it’s bench 225 lbs. by the end of December.  It doesn’t matter.  Studies show that people who have concise, short-term goals will stay more motivated than those that are just aimlessly working out because they feel they have to.  Continually shoot for loftier goals and push yourself to complete them.
  • Remind yourself why you are working out.  We all know how painful working out can be some days.  On days like that, remind yourself that you are working out today so that tomorrow isn’t in vain.  What’s the point of experiencing the workout pain and struggles every summer and new year’s if you are just going to allow it to fade away when your motivation levels sink.  Oft repeated, and a bit cliché, but absolutely true; one step forward and one step backwards gets you no where. 
  • Take pride in the sacrifice.  When you are coming out of the gym all sweaty and the cold evening air hits you, take pride in knowing that you are out there doing something productive while other people are sitting around at home eating crap and packing on the winter pounds.  You on the other hand are determined, you are becoming stronger, both and physically and mentally…you are a machine!  Take time to appreciate your efforts and accomplishments. 

The more you “force” yourself to get to the gym, the easier it becomes the next time.  Elementary human psychology tells us that.  Tough it out on the “bleh” days and you will notice they become fewer and farther between.  Just think how good you are going to look this summer after having worked out for 12 months straight.  You are going to be a different person, both physically and mentally.  Employ a little self-discipline and the results will follow.

Is White Whole Wheat Bread The Real Deal?

A reader posed the question: 

“Is the white whole wheat bread I see in the supermarket the same as the regular brown whole wheat bread I’ve been told is the best type to eat?”

A:  Don’t worry, these white whole wheat breads you see in the supermarket are in fact whole wheat bread.  According to Jeannie Gazzaniga, PhD, RD, they’re simply made with a different unrefined grain – one that is white instead of the traditional red.  The white has a milder, slightly sweeter taste, but contains the same nutritional content as the darker whole wheat loaves. That said, always check the ingredient label on the back of any wheat product you are buying.  To make sure you are getting the right product, look for the word “whole” before any wheat products listed, i.e. whole wheat grain.

The Power of Music

Look into any gym space, and you’ll see ears studded with ear phones connected to iPod’s, iPhone’s, and various mp3 players.  It’s not really a secret that music helps make the time in the gym pass by faster, and keeps your mind off things.  However, a study published recently took a look at the correlation between fast-paced music and athletic performance. 

Researchers gave the volunteers popular music to listen to while riding a stationary bike.  On the first ride, the music was played at its normal pace.  In following rides, the researchers slowed the pace of the music by 10% for some, and increased the pace by 10% for others.  The volunteers were not told anything about the pace of the music.  Interestingly, their performance on the stationary bike changed. 

When the pace of the music was decreased, the peddling and resulting affects changed as well.  Physical exertion dropped, heart rates dropped, and mileage dropped.  Many volunteers reported they didn’t care for the music.  The other group of volunteers, which listened to music with only a 10% increase in pace, peddled faster, covered more miles, sustained a higher heart rate, and reported to enjoy the music they were listening to.

While the fast pace group didn’t claim that the workout seemed any easier, it does seem that the faster pace allowed them to push through the workout and exert more physical effort.  A case can be made that the volunteers with the fast pace music accepted, and even preferred to exert a greater degree of physical effort. 

Clearly, the goal of cardiovascular exercise is to raise and sustain a heart rate in the targeted zone.  Whether you want to train aerobically or anaerobically, raising the heart rate and keeping it in that particular zone is key.  This study demonstrates the power that music possess in helping you reach that goal.  Use it to your advantage!

With all that said, you want fast-paced music on your playlist.  A subsequent study by Dr. Costas Karageorghis, an associate professor of sports psychology found that the most effective workout music contains a tempo of 120-140 beats-per-minute, or B.P.M.  With that knowledge in hand, you want to find songs that fall into this range of BPM.  How do you determine beats-per-minute you may be asking.  First off, you can do it the old-fashioned way; count them in your head.

If that’s too much work for you, you can take the easy way out. Check out BPM calculator or BPM Assistant (for you Mac users).  These simple downloads will calculate the BPM of a given song.  From there, you can store the BPM in the ID3 tag of the music file.  iTunes will allow you to then sort your music by BPM, allowing you to pick songs that fall between 120-140 BPM.

The way in which you order the songs in your playlist has a crucial part in all of this as well.  First off, it really depends on the type of workout you are doing.  If you are going on a distance run, you may want to consider slowly building the BPM in each song.  This way, when you are nearing the end of the run, and are running on gas fumes, your mind will receive that extra boost of motivation from very high BPM songs.  If you are going for a serious lift session, you may want to include only songs that fall into the upper range of the 120-140 BPM scale.  This will give you explosive, sustained motivation throughout your heavy lifts. 

When you are exercising to reach a goal, i.e. lose 30 pounds, prepare for that triathlon, etc. every little edge you can give yourself matters.  If something as easy as increasing the tempo of the music helps you raise your physical exertion just 10%, the differences in gains made will be dramatic.  Think about it for a second; what if you could burn 10% more calories each time you worked out?  Burning an extra 60 calories, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, translates into an additional loss of 6.25 pounds of body fat over the course of a year.  Think about that.  Simply bumping up the tempo of your music will cause your body to work that much harder than it typically would.  A “free” loss of 6 pounds of body fat is nothing to sneeze at.  The tempo of your music will subconsciously dictate the tempo of your intensity.  Use this phenomenon to your advantage and make the best gains you possibly can.

Listen…Your Brain is Trying to Tell You Something…

Think back to the time when you were a child.  I’d be willing to bet most of us were highly encouraged (read: forced) to clean our plates at the dinner table.  Often times we’d go back for seconds, stop eating halfway through, and be told about the starving children in China, and that we mustn’t waste anything.  Down the hatch it went.

On the other hand, if you were to have grown up, in say France, you would have been encouraged to eat until you are just satisfied, not stuffed.  In many countries, meal time is a time to relax and enjoy what’s on your plate.  There is no pressure to stuff yourself past the point of still feeling comfortable. 

A 2006 study examined the eating habits of 133 French and 145 Americans.  The French seemed to have a better understanding of their internal cue to stop eating, while the Americans paid more attention to an external cue: when their plate was cleared.  It’s clear that many Americans ignore the subtle signals the body gives to indicate fullness.  Years of being told we must eat everything we take has taken its toll on our psychological processes.

Finding that common ground between hunger and being stuffed may be the key to managing our growing weight problem, permanently.  Food psychologist Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating suggests that the obese have a more difficult time picking up on those internal cues that suggest we should stop eating because we are rapidly approaching the “I’m stuffed” feeling.  By paying careful attention to our satiety, we are able to fully enjoy whatever comes after a nice meal, be it sleep, fun, or just sitting on the couch relaxing.  Nothing is more uncomfortable than a bloated stomach and the feeling of, “why the hell did I eat all of that?”.

America’s weight problem is the result of many causes, but one in particular is the culture of fad dieting millions of people adopt.  Yoyo dieting greatly restrict calories, thereby decreasing our fat stores which causes decrease appetite suppressing hormones.  From here, our hunger skyrockets, our metabolism slows to a crawl, and our satiety indicators become difficult to recognize.  Everything we see looks good to us.  Going to the grocery store during a time like this can be an absolute disaster.

The key to avoiding these pitfalls?  Fill your stomach up, but not in the way you traditionally have.  You need to eat slightly smaller meals, in greater frequency throughout the day.  Don’t subscribe to the, clean-your-plate mentality.  Learn to subscribe to the, I’m-pleasantly-full mentality.  Pay very careful attention to your internal indicators and remember that the feeling of fullness lags about 15 minutes behind what you put in your stomach.  Eat meals slowly and give yourself time to adjust to the food you have consumed. 

Now, this doesn’t mean you can binge on your 5-6 meals a day.  These meals still need to be healthy or you will have a harder time realizing the internal indicators, as well as losing any weight.  A study showed that mice who gorged themselves on goodies high in saturated fat had a diminished sensitivity to insulin, as well as appetite suppressing hormones.  The mice would eat much more than they actually needed to because their bodies were thrown off by the high fat foods they were consuming.  Keep this in mind when you plan your own diet.  If you overindulged on various high-fat foods and unhealthy options over the weekend, you may be setting yourself up for failure during the week.  Everything in moderation.

Another interesting point researchers discovered, was that WHAT you eat during times of extreme hunger plays an important part in how your brain responds to food stimulus in the future.  If you have a big bowl of chocolate ice cream to satiate your hunger, your brain will learn to associate pleasure with chocolate ice cream.  Over time, you may require more and more chocolate ice cream to satiate yourself and have that same feeling of pleasure from eating; kinda like crack!

On the other hand, you can play a trick on your brain by eating healthy foods when you are “starving”.  Your brain will learn to associate satiety and the pleasure associate with eating, with healthy options.  Eat that handful of almonds 10 times in a row and your brain will start to crave almonds, not cookies, when that mid-day snack craving creeps up.

Another important piece of the puzzle is the necessity of fiber in your diet.  In addition to helping lower bad cholesterol levels, keep us regular, and flush fat from our system, fiber helps us achieve a feeling of fullness.  Some experts recommend you should eat 35-55 grams of fiber a day during a period of weight loss.  For periods of maintenance, 25-35 grams of fiber should do.  Keep in mind that you can overdo it with the fiber, which can result in vitamin and mineral loss.  Try not to exceed 55 grams in a given day.

Some helpful tips that aim to help you feel full and lose weight include:

  • Add something crunchy to the top of a salad.  Studies show that more chewing may result in a faster feeling of fullness.
  • Substitute half of a bowl of pasta with cannelloni beans to up your fiber intake for the day.
  • Try mixing wheat bran into things like oatmeal, pudding, yogurt, and baked goods.
  • Eat when you are hungry, but stop midway through your meal and wait 10 minutes before taking another bite.  More often than not, you won’t want that bite after stopping.

Ultimately, the ability to stop eating before you are stuffed comes down to willpower and discipline.  Try using the above information in your journey to weight loss.  Something to ask yourself the next time you are eating, “How much more do I need to eat to adequately nourish my body?”.  Most times, you will realize you don’t really need that 3rd serving of macaroni and cheese, or that 4th piece of chicken.  Follow the lead of the French, and realize that meal times should be savored and enjoyed.  Slow down, relax, and savory what you are putting into your mouth.  Remember, the only prize for joining the clean plate club may be a bloated waist line and excess body fat.

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