Sunday, January 31, 2010

"But, I Don't Have Time..."

I find it hard to believe that 24 hours a week, 7 days a week there is no time in the day not to exercise. No one has a scheduled event for every hour, every day. I know people have busy lives, we all do. However, exercise should be looked at as something that is a must not an option. There are so many benefits from exercise and fitness that will help longevity of life; I promise I won't go all into boring you with the perks of health and fitness. Comfort in a day to day schedule keeps people from adding or dismissing events to create a more effective schedule, but it needs be done. For people who are new to exercise, changing your schedule to fit in at least 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week of exercise can be a gradual change. However, for people who consider themselves typically active and need to rearrange their schedule due to a conflict it's getting used to the new schedule that takes time to get your running/exercise comfortable and back to where it was.

Newbie To Exercise- Sample Schedule Ideas and Tips:
  • Keep a journal of all your daily events. Write down what task occupies the time of day.
  • Look at your down time and determine if it works to fit in at least 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week of exercise such as walking, running, jogging, biking, tennis, etc.
  • Take the stairs when given the option. Take a longer walking route. It all adds up.
  • Things can always be cut out of your schedule to be replaced with exercise. For example, cut back on the amount of TV watched, or the amount of time spent on the computer... Don't worry, I already got my long run in today ;)!
  • Also keep in mind, exercising first thing in the morning is always a good option. Set your alarm 30 minutes - 1 hour earlier. Set your exercise clothes out the night before so you just need to slip them on and get out the door.
  • If you get an hour or longer lunch break and/or have a gym at your office, utilize it!
  • Establishing and maintaining a workout schedule will help you adhere to exercising. It's mind over matter (lame, I know). Stick to it and you will be proud of yourself when you look at exercise as a must in your daily routine.
Rearranging Your Schedule Ideas and Tips:
  • A new work or school schedule can almost always throw off your running/ work out schedule.
  • You may have to move your workouts to another day or move it to a different time of the day.
  • Keep in mind that a new schedule may seem to cause your workout to feel different. Don't stress over it. You just need time to get comfy.
  • It may take time to have your running or workout seem normal and back to where it was before.
  • Stressing out can cause weight gain. Take it day by day. Don't let a new schedule or training program overwhelm you. In the end, it will all work out and pay off.
  • If you have less days to run or workout, you can always double your run or workout on the days you do exercise. It will be more intense, but you will wreak the same benefits. Maybe even gain a slight benefit due to the capacity.
Exercise of the Week: Straight Leg Deadlifts. Being a running I get tight hamstrings, glutes (booty), and hip muscles after a long run. Deadlifts are a great workout for your hamstrings, glutes, hip, back, and core muscles. The exercise will aid in flexibility and reduce soreness. To preform the exercise:

Basic Straight Leg Deadlifts:
  • Stand with your feet roughly shoulder width apart or a little less.
  • Slightly bend your knees.
  • Slowly bend your torso forward towards the ground. Keep your back straight not rounded. Do not bend to the point of no return.
  • Return to the starting position. 1 rep completed.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps, 3-5 sets.
Progression Straight Leg Deadlifts:
  • Stand with your feet roughly shoulder width apart or a little less.
  • Slightly bend your knees.
  • Hold a weighted dumbbell or kettlebell of choice.
  • Slowly bend your torso forward towards the ground. Keep your back straight not rounded. Do not bend to the point of no return.
  • Return to the starting position. 1 rep completed.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps, 3-5 sets.
  • If the exercise seems too easy, add heavier weight.
Training Tip of the Week: Don't skip meals! Skipping meals can slow your metabolism while your blood sugar plummets. Skipping meals puts your body into shock and it starts to reserve what energy you have and slows your metabolism to survive. Then once you start eating "normal" again your body has to adjust to the increase calories you are consuming; therefore, causing weight gain. Always remember you need energy to burn energy. Eat. Eat healthy. Don't overeat. People think that since they had a big lunch they won't eat dinner or eat a very small portion. Worse mistake. Your blood sugar drops, your body is then starving, you fight the urge to eat, you can no longer fight it, you then eat and overeat, and since you overate you made the situation worse resulting in weight gain. Try eating smaller portion, but eating more frequently throughout the day, roughly every 3-4 hours. This way you will stay full and your blood sugar will remain constant.

Training Songs of the Week: A collection of newbies and oldies. Enjoy!

1. Shots- LMFAO ft. Lil Jon (I hate to admit it, but it's a good beat... Grr, thanks a lot Ross lol)
2. Meet Me Halfway- Black Eyed Peas
3. 3am Spanish- Hockey
4. Learn to Lose- Hockey
5. Lifeline- Papa Roach

Countdown to the Atlanta ING Marathon:
48 Days (March 21, 2010).

Countdown to the Atlanta Live DOW Run For Water:
76 Days (April 18, 2010)

Happy Running,

Saturday, January 23, 2010

There Is More To Running Then, You Know, Running!

I've been serious about running for roughly two years now. First, I started running to just get back in shape. Then, to see how far I could run. I started to challenge myself with races and my first Half. I wasn't too concerned with my pace time at this point in my running. Then, dom dom dom, Ross became my running partner and has challenged me on every run we have completed. He's a speedster (yea, I said speedster). It was all fun in games until I opened my big mouth and said "I can run faster than you." As he slowly drifts away from me on some runs, I just keep running and think "damn, I wish I could run that fast." I envy his speed and running style, which has in return, helped my overall speed and time. However, I still don't compare to him. I wanna go faster! The key to increasing speed isn't to just run faster. It's strength. Running is a full body workout while dragging your weight along for the ride. Having just strong legs doesn't help increase time. You need a strong core. Working the muscles in your abdominal region ,back, and glutes will help increase speed while contributing to good balance. Your core supports the rest of your body. A strong core aids in making the rest of your body stronger, corrects breathing, delays fatigue, and gives you phenomenal balance. A few exercises to help build your core and outline your six-pack:

  • Planks- When in a plank position you have to remember that your body is one unit. From your neck down to your back should all be aligned with one another. Start out holding the plank for as long as you can progressing the time for the following sets. Then progress into holding the plank while lifting one leg or arm off the ground out in front of your body.
  • Planks with a Stability Ball- These would be a progression up from regular planks. You still want to keep your back as straight as you can while your arms are on the stability ball. Once you have your form, you can roll out the ball and back in during the set, or write out the alphabet while in plank position moving the stability ball with your arms.
  • Lunges- Everyone loves to hates lunges! This is a great full body exercise that you can tweak in so many directions. Start out doing regular lunges, then reverse lunges, try walking lunges, add weight with your walking lunges, progress into step ups to reverse lunges with or without wights. Just lunge!
  • Squats- When squatting try to picture a chair behind you. Squat down as if you are going to sit in the chair. Too easy? Add weight. Once you start to feel like a couch potato, try jumping squats.
  • One Legged Squats- You still squat like normal, but only standing on one leg. Your balance will be truly tested. Remember adding weight always makes the exercise tougher. Try to keep challenging yourself once something seems "too easy".
When doing core exercises remember to squeeze your glutes and keep proper form. If you feel you have broken your form, stop, regain your composer, and finish the set with correct form.

Exercise of the Week: Interval training! It's only appropriate since speed is the topic of the week. Interval training has been shown to be very beneficial to athletes. You can play and tweak the intervals however you please. Examples: You can run for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds. Run for 45 seconds, rest for 20 seconds. Run for 60 Seconds, rest for 30 seconds. Or you can do intervals for distance: Run for 1.5 mile, rest for 1.3 mile. Run for 1 mile, rest for 0.5 mile. And, of course, you can do intervals by time and total distance. The point is, as long as your pace is faster than your "race pace" then you will benefit from interval training. Interval training is as tough as you make it to be. Start out slow, get use to it, then go hardcore. This is a good alternative for cross training, or even doing on a rest day. The total distance of the intervals won't be the same distance as a "normal" run day. It's the speed and pace you are concentrating on increasing.

Training Tip of the Week: I've learned at my internship that most runners don't stretch their legs above 90 degrees. Whammy, I've been called out already in my first few weeks. So, while running your legs don't break 90 degrees, unless you are high steppin', but who high steps for 10 miles or so? I mean, that does seem kind of fun? Anyway, after a run most runners walk it out for a few minutes and then home they go. No proper stretching or cool down. Yikes, I've always been guilty. A good habit to get into, and to stretch your legs above 90 degrees to help stretch out the hip flexor muscles that are constantly used while running. This will help decrease hip and joint pain. To do this, lay on your side, bring the leg closest to the ceiling up and over your bottom leg. Your knee on your top leg should be flexed and almost touching your elbows ensuring it is above 90 degrees. Now, keeping your top leg in position grab the foot of your bottom leg and pull towards you. Hold and stretch out any soreness/ toughness. Then do the other leg.

Training Songs of the Week: I've been in very upbeat, head rockin', fist pumpin' (well, not really) type of music mood the past couple of weeks. Enjoy!

1. Shut It Down- Pitbull ft. Akon
2. Party People- Nelly ft. Fergie
3. Jump- Flo-Rida ft. Nelly Furtado
4. She's Fine- DJ Khaled ft. Sean Paul, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes
5. Hold My Hand- Sean Paul ft. Kerri Hilson

Random Rant: Thank you Runner's World Magazine for validating my coffee addiction even more! Oatmeal and Coffee have been shown to be the perfect match for a speedy recovery. The combination of carbs and caffeine boosts glycogen (fuel for the brain and muscles) stores more than just eating either of the two alone. It was then added that toping your oatmeal with a banana, nuts, or milk is a plus. It's like they know me! Ah, brush my shoulders off and pop my collar ;)

Countdown to the Atlanta ING Marathon:
56 Days (March 21, 2010).

Happy Running,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Now That Was Some Arctic Style Running

This week I have failed to do my homework. Normally during my runs, mostly longer runs, I collect ideas to blog about. Well, this week the only thing I could keep thinking about was this "Arctic Blast" weather. The state of Georgia is popular for freaking out over the thought of snow or a "wintry mix" and the entire state shuts down. Well, I'll give it to you this time Georgia. The weather sure was "Arctic" like. Snowy, icey, slushy, and refrozen to enjoy the fun for two more days. The beginning of the week the weather was just cold, frigid cold. Temperatures barely reaching freezing. The middle of the week the temperatures stayed below freezing with unbearable wind chills. This, of course, made running unappealing for the week, but we bundled up and faced mother nature with all she had to offer. Then we ended the week with snow that froze over for 2 days. Temperatures on Friday and Saturday stayed blowing freezing keeping the snow/ice to linger around. Saturday we completed 13.3 miles on our normal trail, but this time it was dusted with a nice solid layer of snow. I have to say, it was actually enjoyable for the most part. Besides my face freezing and nose running nonstop, the challenge not to fall and the feeling of running on snow for that long of a distance made the run unique and added another element. I feel like I lived the life of a northern runner for a week. We are some dedicated marathon trainers to bare these conditions just to exercise. Now, can I have my 50 degree weather back? Please and thank you! I apologize for my mind being occupied with the insane weather for the week and that I couldn't present a pleasant topic to blog about. I mean, it was an "Arctic Blast" week!

Exercise of the Week: Hip Exercises (compliments of Runner's World Magazine). After a long run some runners will experience hip aches or soreness due to the repetitive movement for a long duration. Here are some exercises to help loosen the hip muscles and reduce aches, pains, or soreness.

The Knee Lean:
  • Stand with your legs shoulder width apart.
  • Lunge forward.
  • Drop your back knee to the floor while keeping your lunged knee at a 90 degree angle.
  • Let your hips sink towards the floor.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Complete with the other leg and hold for 10 seconds.
  • Completion of 1 set.
  • Repeat 3-5 reps.
Hip Hike:
  • You need a step or an uneven surface to complete this exercise.
  • Stand sideways on the step or uneven surface.
  • One leg should be on the step while the other leg (outside leg) is hanging off the edge.
  • Lift and lower the outside leg off the edge.
  • Complete 15-30 reps.
  • Switch sides to complete the exercise on the other leg for 15-30 reps.
  • Completion of 1 set.
  • Repeat for 3-5 reps.
Leg Raises:
  • Find a flat surface to lay on.
  • Lie on one side of your body with your legs on top of one another and toes forward.
  • Lift the upper leg up towards the ceiling. Remember to keep proper form and lift only as high as you can without breaking your form. Completion of 1 rep.
  • Complete 15-30 reps.
  • Switch sides to complete the exercise on the other leg for 15-30 reps.
  • Completion of 1 set.
  • Repeat for 3-5 reps.
Training Tip of the Week: A well balanced diet is important, especially for people who are exercising. It's hard to break bad habits, but it can be done. Start slowly and change something about breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here are a few ideas.

Breakfast: Most people don't eat breakfast although it is the most important meal of the day. The reason being is because if you don't eat breakfast by the time lunch rolls around your stomach is completely empty. This will cause you to overeat at lunch. Make breakfast light and healthy. Eating greasy and fattening foods for breakfast won't result in anything good. Here are a few ideas.
  • Eat fruit and/or yogurt. Eat a banana, apple, orange, or even yogurt (low fat, if available).
  • Eat oatmeal with or without fruit/ nuts. You get a well balance meal with the fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Breakfast wrap. Try to steer clear of fried meats.
  • Top your breakfast off with juice (100% real juice to avoid added sugars and flavors), coffee, or water.
Lunch: Try not to overeat at lunch. Have a well balanced meal. Remember to eat slow and don't eat past the point of feeling "full". At lunch try adding:
  • A type of fruit. The USDA guideline for fruit serving per day is 3-5.
  • Add vegetables to your meal to get the recommended servings per day.
  • Add nuts. You can add nuts to salads, stir fry dishes, or to a chicken meal.
  • Drink water with your meal instead of soda, tea, or alcohol. This way you have no added calories.
Dinner: Make dinner your biggest meal. You want to refuel your muscles from your workout. Don't over do it. It's winter time, so make a stew or soup with meat, beans, legumes, vegetables, and/or peppers for flavor. Stew/soups are perfect to obtain a well balanced meal in one bowl. Add bread to the side for some extra carbs. Be creative and remember to get your fiber, protein, vegetables, fruits, beans, and minerals throughout the day.

Snacks: Snacking isn't always bad for you, if you make good choices. Eating chips, soda, or candy throughout the day obviously isn't good for you. It's okay to add these guilty pleasure foods to our diets as long as it is few and far. Instead, on a daily routine for snacks:
  • Eat nuts and/or granola. However, check the granola before hand because it can be loaded with sugar.
  • Raisins
  • Fruit
  • Vegatables
  • Yogurt
  • Dried Figs
Remember to not overeat. Just because something is low in calories, fat, or nonfat doesn't mean you can consume more. Eat in moderation and think before you eat, especially if you are trying to lose weight or consume the proper nutrients for recovery.

Training Songs of the Week: I'm loving the new Vampire Weekend this week! It's heavenly. I did included some other goodies. Enjoy!

1. Run- Vampire Weekend
2. Diplomat's Son- Vampire Weekend
3. Giving Up The Gun- Vampire Weekend
4. Just Say Yes- Snow Patrol
5. She Is Love- Parachute

Countdown to the Atlanta ING Marathon:
69 Days (March 21, 2010).

Happy Running,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

26°F, Feels Like 16°F, Just Screams 15 Miles!

Today marked the end of the 4th week of training for the Atlanta ING Marathon. Running 15 miles, the farthest thus far, in below freezing temperatures makes you question if it is really worth it. Once we finished I snapped back into reality and realized it's worth every moment of torture. There are always obstacles in running long distance, cold weather just happens to be one. You need a bigger and better reason to just give up all your hard work. Here are a few tips for cold weather running... well, cold weather running here in the South:

  • Dress as if it is 15-20 degrees warmer than what the temperature currently reads before your run. Overdressing can cause your body to enclose too much heat as your body warms up and can possibly lead to heat related injuries. Remember if you walk outside before starting your run and you are comfortable shed some layers. You should feel a tad chilly.
  • Most heat from your body will escape through the distal ends (head and feet). Make sure your feet are covered throughly, but allow heat to escape so you do not build up moisture in your socks causing wet feet. This will also help to avoid athletes feet. Wicking moisture socks are ideal. Also, try using a hood, beanie, or ear-warmers to help entrap heat around your head. Always remember you can shed layers while running.
  • Running gloves help your fingertips from going numb. Running with gloves depends on the runner. Some runners don't like things around their hands, feel it is distracting, or it gets too hot. I recommend wearing gloves on a windy day because the wind chill is usually more deathly than just the cold.
  • Energy levels deplete quicker on colder days because the body shuns blood to the working muscles leaving the nonworking muscles with less blood resulting in less heat. The lower levels of blood causes those muscles to drop in temperature so the body shivers to help warm up the body. The shiver results in more energy used. The key is to make sure you are not only dressed properly, but also take in some type of energy during your longer runs. Energy intake can be through a shake, energy bar, fruit, jelly belly energy beans, etc. What your body uses up you need to refuel the same amount and possibly a little bit more to help the rebuilding of muscles.
  • You do sweat in cold weather while exercising. Remember to wear proper clothes. If you wear too much clothing the garments will soak up the sweat causing your body temperature to drop too quickly once you end your run. Wicking material is best, or just polyester, not cotton.
  • Water is important. Dehydration still occurs during the cold weather. Once you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Drink water before, during (if possible), and after. During longer runs (runs longer than an hour) replenish your electrolyte intake as well.
  • Cold weather and wind can cause chafing. Wear sunglasses, or some type of eye protection, in the colder months even if it isn't sunny to help keep your eyes from drying out. The glasses will also help keep the skin around your eyes from becoming dry and/or wind burnt. Anti-chafing bars/sticks (i.e. Bodyglide) will help keep your skin from drying out and causing abrasions. You can also use it on your feet to help prevent blisters. Carry chapstick with you while running to avoid cracks and blisters on your lips.
Don't let the cold weather hold you back. 26°F is cold, but I believe if you don't let yourself ponder on it while running you won't realize it's that cold. Just run, listen to some good music, stay focused, and think about Sunny Florida. Many people find excuses not to exercise. Don't let yourself justify it being cold as a reason not to exercise. You are able to control your body temperature to help make the cold more enjoyable.

Exercise of the Week: One Leg Balance. This exercise will help build strength in your whole leg, upper and lower. What is good about this exercise is you are using your body weight as the resistance; however, you can always progress into using weights in addition. Having strong legs helps push yourself up those hills, control downhills, and work on gaining speed. To preform the exercise:

One Leg Balance:
  • Stand shoulder width apart.
  • Shift your wight to one leg while lifting the other leg slightly off the ground.
  • Hold this position for 30- 60 seconds.
  • Switch legs and and follow the above steps. Completion of 1 rep.
  • Repeat for 3-5 reps.
One Leg Balance Progression:
  • Stand shoulder width apart.
  • Shift your weight to one leg while lifting the other leg off the ground at waist level with the knee bent at a 90 degree angle.
  • Hold this position for 60-90 seconds.
  • Switch legs and follow the above steps. Completion of 1 rep.
  • Repeat for 5-10 reps.
One Leg Balance Weighted Progression:
  • Stand should width apart.
  • Shift your eight to one leg while lifting the other leg slightly off the ground, or off the ground at waist level with the knee bent at a 90 degree angle, while holding a weighted medicine ball or dumbbell of your choice. To progress more, while holding the above position, squat down mimicking the act of sitting in a chair and then back up.
  • Hold this position for 60-90 seconds.
  • Switch legs and follow the above steps. Completion of 1 rep.
  • Repeat for 3-5 reps.
  • Remember for strength gain and not endurance gain in a muscle add more weight and less reps.
Training Tip of the Week: Pain is common during running, especially at a distance or pace you have never experienced. There is good pain and bad pain. You know your body the best. You know what you can push through and what truly feels wrong. Don't be afraid to go further distance because it feels "uncomfortable" or "a different type of pain". Your body has to adjust to the repetitive movement. Overtime it will feel natural to your body. How you handle the pain is key. Replenish your body with proper nutrients after the run. Stretch out the muscles. Work on range of motion (ROM) activities at the affected joints. Soak your muscles in a warm bath for a little time to help dilate the veins to increase blood flow back to your muscles. As I stated in a previous blog, if you need to pop an anti-inflammatory before a long run then do. It will help alleviate the pain for a short period. I recommend only use an anti-inflammatory for a run longer than an hour and if you think you really need it.

Training Songs of the Week: Warning: The music choices this week are all over the map. Some I am proud of, some I am not. It's been awhile so I have included more than the normal amount of songs. Enjoy! :)

1. Replay- IYAZ
2. I Can Transform Ya- Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz
3. I Wanna Go Crazy- David Guetta ft. Will.I.Am
4. Live Like We're Dying- Kris Allen
5. Morning After Dark- Timbaland ft. SoShy and Nelly Furtado
6. Carry Out- Timbaland ft. Justin Timberlake
7. Symphonies- Dan Black
8. Fables- The Dodos
9. Fools- The Dodos
10. Decode- Paramore

Countdown to the Atlanta ING Marathon:
76 Days (March 21, 2010).

Happy Running,

Friday, January 1, 2010

Should I Say "10" or "2010"?!

Happy New Years! The holiday season had me M.I.A. No worries, i'm back and ready to blog my heart out about running and nutrition, again. Dork :). I hope the holidays were great for everyone and that you all are ready for a new year! If you didn't stick to your exercise regimen, or ate too much food during the festive season this is the perfect time to make a change. Oh yes, it's New Year's Resolution time. I have mixed feelings about this idea mostly because 90 percent of people don't stick to their resolutions. EXERCISE usually takes the topper among all resolutions. Everyone wants to start the new year off with changing something they can control, themselves. So, people vow to start exercising and eat healthy. This, of course, excites me. I love when people want to start taking exercise serious. However, majority of the people who make the resolutions to start exercising quit by February because they are not at their ideal weight or whatever their excuse may be. Lets make 2010 or "10" different. As a society lets stick to it and not quit. I mean, maybe the US can meet the quota for Healthy People 2010 by this year if we all stick to it. Okay, probably not, but we can meet Healthy People 2020. Here are a few tips:

1. Make REALISTIC goals. If you want to lose weight set a goal, for example, to lose 10 pounds in 2 months. It may seem small, but when you accomplish it in less than 2 months you will likely be more proud of your accomplishment than setting a goal to lose 30 pounds in 3o days and you don't meet it.

2. Make PROGRESSIVE goals. Start low then build up to your ultimate goal. If by the end of 2010 you want to run a half marathon set little goals within that bigger goal. Start with running a 5k (3.1 miles) by Spring, then a 10k (6.2 miles) by Summer/ Fall, then finally end the year with a half marathon (13.1 miles) by late Fall/Winter. Use the same concept for strength training. If you are out of shape, or have not lifted weights ever/ in a long time, start slow. Start with lighter weights and build your endurance/strength up properly. Remember to work all major muscle groups including your shoulders/ neck, arms, back, abdominals, quadriceps, hamstrings, and lower leg muscles to have an adequate strength balance. Try a rotation between upper body and lower body muscles. On even days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) work only upper body and then on odd days (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) work only lower body muscles. This concept helps let your muscles rest, heal, build, and rejuvenate properly. By having progressive goals it will help you avoid injuries and not feel defeated from the start.

3. EXERCISE and DIET are like 2 peas in a pod. To lose weight you can't just change your exercise routine or just your diet. You have to change both. Start making healthy changes to your diet. Drink less soda. Eat less sugar. Choose wheat over white. Try adding fruits, veggies, and/or nuts to your diet as a snack instead of chips or sweets. Choosing better alternatives are key.

4. DON'T QUIT when it gets hard or you are not seeing results as fast as you want. Stick to it. Your hard work will pay off in the end. Make exercise part of your routine. It's going to take a few months for it to feel "normal" that you want to exercise. Set a certain part of your day aside for exercise and dedicate that time 5-7 days a week to only exercise. Plan other tasks and obligations around that time frame. That way you can't use lack of time as a main excuse to not be active. You can use the time before work/school, your lunch break, or the time after work/school as your exercise time. Fit it into your routine and forget all the excuses to not exercise and be active.

It is going to be hard at first, but just remember exercising and losing weight will start to feel natural as long as you stick to it! You will start to feel better all around. So go out and start exercising, and start motivating others around you to do the same!

Happy Running,