Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallows' Eve and A Big Rock

It's always a good idea to test your pace before the big day by running an official race. This way you can adjust any techniques while you have a ton load of people running around you.
Having the field (other runners) running with you helps you to get in a rhythm of passing, pacing, and learning/experiencing a new course. I recommend testing all your training hard work by running at least a 5k (3.1 miles) before the race you are trainin
g for. If it's a 5k you are training for I recommend either run or run/walk a 5k, or most races offer a 1 mile run. Either way it will help you relax some, I say some, nerves on race day because you have a feel
of how an official race operates and your familiar with your race abilities.

*It's almost the end of training for the Atlanta Half Marathon and
just the beginning of the Atlanta ING Full Marathon training. Best way to test our pace: run around a big rock in the rain on Halloween morning. We (Ross and I) decided to particip
ate in the Run Around The Rock 10 mile race at Stone Mountain on this dreary and dismal Halloween morning.
  • Wake up way before the sunrise- Check
  • Drive out to Stone Mountain for 8 am- Check
  • Change clothes in the car because Georgia weather is on crack- Check
  • Cramp up the entire 10 miles- Check
  • Realize Stone Mountain is REALLY hilly- Check
  • Proceed to get soaked, better word would be drenched, at mile 9- Check
  • Complete 10 miles around the base of Stone Mountain with a 8'00''ish mile pace- Cha Cha Check
It felt like if something could go wrong it did. I like to believe the spirit of Halloween is to blame for all the mini disasters today. However, I would label it as a good run mostly for truckin' through the toughness proving to ourselves we can conquer the tough obstacles. Bring on the half and all the hills it encompasses, Atlanta!

*In the previous blog What's Your Terrain of Choice? (08/15/2009), I compared different running terrains based on surface and location. I stated I was seeking out to find good trails in the Atlanta/ Downtown area and Stone Mountain was on my list. Through all my research Stone Mountain has been raved about numerous times and I defiantly wanted to experience what all the hype was about.
  • My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars: Overall it's a nice 5 mile run around the base of the mountain. You get a nice view of the lake, falling leaves during this season, lots of colors, somewhat of a view of the mountain, but tough tough hills. I would have enjoyed it a little more if the view of the mountain was more visible and less of these Georgia hill. However, I do recommend trying out the course at least once if you're in the area.

Training Exercise of the Week: Planks: This is a great exercise to help strengthen your core muscles. Your core muscles are your abdominals, glutes, and some back muscles. Strengthening your core muscles can help to alleviate lower back pain and help prevent hamstring injuries.
  • Performing Planks: Find a flat surface, get down on your knees, place your elbows on the ground while straightening your forearms, and straighten your legs behind you supporting your body with your toes and arms. Hold your position for 20 seconds. Then rest for about 30 seconds. Then repeat for about 3 sets.
  • Progression Planks: Instead of a flat surface find a small platform to rest your arms on. You can hold the position for a minimum of 30 seconds. With each following set try adding more time to your hold.
Training Tip of the Week: Stay positive no matter how hard it gets. Regardless if it's work, school, sickness, family, or running problems stay positive. Treat your run as a stress reliever. While you're running you release that negative tension. Once the tension grabs hold of you it will become a fight to overcome. I know it's tough to stay positive when things are hard. I know that. So have someone to vent to or even run with you. This way you have someone to help push through your run when you think about stopping. After you finish you should be filled with a sense of accomplishment aiding to eliminate any negative tension.

Training Song of the Week: Well, it's Halloween so it's only appropriate to select a song(s) to fit the season. Enjoy!

1. Halloween- DMB
2. My Body's A Zombie For You- Dead Man's Bones (So Good!)

Happy Running,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fall Running With A Little Lagniappe

What can I say? It's been a strange week. Maybe because it's almost Halloween? Anyway, I've decided to compile a list of random things I've had on my mind for this week. Enjoy my randomness of the week:

  • First things first, Lagniappe = a little something extra. "Mmm, crab lagniappe." I've had "lagniappe" on my mind for weeks, and I really don't know why. I just like to say it. Lagniappe.
  • It's FALL! Well, it's officially been declared Fall since September 22, but the temperature said otherwise. Georgia is finally consistent, for the most part, with the cooler weather. I love Fall running. I love this season so much because you can run in shorts with long sleeves, the cool and crisp air, the colorful scenery, and falling leaves!
  • "I hate the first 3 miles!" I love long runs, but hate the first few miles. I don't know why, but once I get to about mile 4 I'm a new woman! I have to keep telling myself it gets easier after the first few miles... Then I think, my logic doesn't really make sense. Easier after the first three miles, huh? Yeah, I'm sure most people would agree...
  • Why do some people run in shorts and sleeveless shirts, but have on WINTER gloves and ear warmers? A new trend? Don't send me the memo. Frankly, it looks odd and it bothers me.
  • Thanks Nike+ for making me obsessed with numbers. It's like a drug; I want to reach the next level so bad I would convince myself to just go for longer runs than what I had planned. It's like I was tweekin' all week to just bank in those numbers... I'm back to normal, and hope to not abuse my Nike+ again.
  • Have a backup place to do long runs. It sucks when your normal trail is closed and you have to wing it around town. Lesson well learned.
  • The Atlanta Marathon/ Half Marathon is less than 5 weeks away... and Thanksgiving! I've attached the map for the Half for all y'alls convenience to check out where you want to stand to cheer us on! :) Atlanta Half Marathon Map
  • The ING Atlanta Marathon / Half Marathon is March 21, 2010... I'm excited about this one because it will be both mine and Ross's first FULL marathon! So all you "curb crewers" I have, of course, attached the course so you can get ahead on your homework and map out where to stand! ING Atlanta Full Marathon Map
  • Finally, I've been thinking all week that I need to start incorporating pictures into my posts. I'm on it! Enjoy the video below for last minute tips to running a Marathon. I came across it on one of the blogs I read and thought I would share:

    Last Minute Marathon Tips: shot with Nikon D90 from Mike Kobal on Vimeo.

Training Exercise of the Week: Step ups (calf raises). Keeping your calf muscles strong is key to preventing injury to your Achilles tendon. An injury to this tendon will keep you from running or performing any ADLs (activities of daily living), and takes an adequate time to fully heal. Last thing you want is to have an overuse injury and little to no muscle strength in your lower leg.
  • Stand in place with your legs next to each other and slowly raise up on your toes. Then back down. Repeat.
  • You can then progress to using weights and/or a raised surface. On a raised surface you will stand on the end of the surface with just your toes and raise up.

Training Tip of the Week: Trim your toenails. Remember to keep your toenails short, or the constant impact will cause tenderness to your nail bed. It can then progress into an ingrown toenail, infection, or even cause your nail to fall off.

Training Song of the Week: This week I have chosen three random songs that are on my running playlist(s):
1. Snow ((Hey Oh))- Red Hot Chili Peppers
2.The Fixer- Pearl Jam
3. Sex on Fire- Kings of Leon

Happy Running,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm About A Daily 6-Cupper

Being a coffee addict myself, the recent discussions regarding the health advantages coffee produces has tickled my fancy. There has always been the debate that if drinking coffee a couple hours or so before a long run can actually give you a boost. It's never been proven, but some people believe it works due to the caffeine raising your heart rate, therefore, there is less of a demand on your heart at the start of your run to increase your heart rate. Then, on the flip side, people argue that the caffeine places too much unwanted work on your heart and can harm you in the long run. With developing research a new idea has bubbled to the surface:

Recently research has started to retract previous statements about how coffee isn't good for you. Now, experts are saying coffee actually benefits drinkers. According to Runner's World Magazine: November 2009 edition there was a study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology in June 2009 explaining that people who drank 4+ cups of coffee a day showed better pulmonary function than those who 0-3 cups of coffee daily. Pulmonary function is how much work your lungs can do such as inhaling, exhaling, force, filter, etc. A study on WebMD explains that drinking coffee can help lower risk for developing certain diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. The study shows that the more you drink the less risk you have to developing diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's, and even colon caner. Coffee appears to be more beneficial for health than ever thought before. (Go to for the WebMD study).

However, there is still lots of research to be done on this topic. Drinking your coffee black is the best way simply because 0 calories. Going to your local coffee joint and getting a loaded latte is going to void any benefits you could get from coffee.

Happy Running,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

-LB = Pounds Lost

As the holiday season is rapidly approching the thought of weight loss isn't far behind. A lot people eat their little hearts out during the holidays with a New Year's revolution closely following to lose weight. I'm not a dietitian, but with countless physiology classes under my belt I know enough for proper weight loss. Here are a few tips for shedding those unwanted lbs:

  1. Count your calories: USDA guidelines for caloric intake per day is a 2,000 calorie diet. Those calories can add up quick if you do not pay close attention to what you're consuming. You can track your calories the old fashion way with pen and paper. Write down the items and calories located on the back or side of purchased items. If you are eating out you can use a calorie tracker book, application (for iPhone or iPod Touch), or go to the USDA ( website under myfoodapedia and type in the item for information.
  2. 3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat: Important fact when maintain weight! It takes 1,500 extra calories than what is recommended to gain 1 pound of fat. With that said, think about how much it takes to burn 1 pound of fat.
  3. Portions: Eat in portions. Don't overeat, or inhale your food. Taking your time allows your stomach to adjust properly and signals when it is "full" eliminating overeating. Eating smaller portions doesn't mean only eat mash potatoes, or whatever it may be, as your meal and call it quits there. Make your balanced meal of meat, veggies, bread, and/or fruit and eat smaller portions of each category as your meal. That way you have variety within the food groups, and you are eating an appropriate amount of calories.
  4. Avoid Diets: Diets don't work; otherwise, weight wouldn't be such an issue. "Yo-yo diets" set you up for failure. You diet, lose some weight (mostly water), your body goes into starvation mode because of the lack of nutrients and dehydration, you stop your diet, you start eating "normal" again, and bam weight gained back. Dieting isn't good for your metabolism.
  5. Exercise: Exercise is necessary. The thought of exercise seems to be a hard concept for some people to grasp. People want a magic pill that doesn't and will never exist. Your body is designed to move so move it! :) Eating healthy and exercise are your 2 key factors to lose weight. ACSM guidelines state a minimum of exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle is 3 days per week for 30 mins of physical activity that can be broken down into 3 ten minute bouts of exercise. Results of weight loss will reflect the amount of work you put into it.
*It seems simple, but it can be a hard routine to follow. Get yourself into a routine of eliminating unhealthy food and start exercising. Once you get into that routine and start maintaining it you will lose weight properly, and a healthy lifestyle will seem "normal" to you. You will achieve not only weight loss, but a good fitness level as well as self discipline. :)

*If you are already exercising and feel like you can't lose weight no matter what you are doing you should examine your diet. If your diet isn't the problem and you are at a health weight for your age and height weight loss will become harder and unnecessary. At this point your muscles just need some toning to look slimmer and fit. Add in some core exercises (exercises working your abs and back), arm , shoulder, chest, and leg exercises to help tone your body. Over time you will begin to look "slimmer" while gaining muscle.

Training Exercise of the Week: Reverse Lunges. Reverse Lunges (also known as step back lunges) help work your hamstrings which are normally ignored when strength training. Balanced strength between the hamstrings and quadriceps are important to avoid pulling upper leg muscles. Hamstrings are commonly pulled when running, or forward progression activities, due to an imbalance between the two muscle groups. It will not only strengthen your hamstrings, but will also increase flexibility and range of motion in your quadriceps.
  • To preform this exercise just stand tall like you would preform a forward lunge. Next just step back while maintaining good form (keeping your back straight, stepping back in a straight line, and keeping your knee from hitting the ground. )
  • You can then progress into walking backward lunges. If you lose proper form you should stop and revert back to stationary reverse lunges until you feel comfortable to walk backwards again. This will help eliminate the chance of injury. If you're feelin' crazy you can add some weight while keeping proper form.

Training Tip of the Week: A weight loss of more than 2 pounds a week is unhealthy. That is for athletes and non-athletes. If you are exercising with proper nutrition this will not be a problem because you will/should consume an adequate amount of calories after your workout. Recovery is important for your muscles and bones after a good workout.

Training Song of the Week: I Don't Feel Like Dancing - Scissor Sisters. Oldie but a goodie. This song has been a popular choice for my iPod this week. It's a good alternative change of pace from jam bands and booty dancin' music!

Happy Running,