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Archive for Running

Setting Goals: Twenty Fifteen

Well, the year has come to an end, and it’s time to start thinking about what you want to actualize in 2015. Here a little acronym to think of when setting a goal: S.M.A.R.T.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relavent

T – Time-bound

They are helpful for two reasons. First, they are effective in quantifying success. Second, they address unrealistic expectations. For example, you may want to finish a marathon in less than 3.5 hours. If this is your first marathon, you can see why this might be an unrealistic expectation. The key to SMART goals is to use both outcome goals, which focus on bottom-line results, and process goals, which address how you will train to achieve those results. For example, “To finish in the top five at the local Triathlon in my age group” is an outcome goal. The problem is that we have less control over outcome goals than they have over process goals. If you fail to accomplish an outcome goal, you may question the efficacy of your training, and get too self-critical. We have greater influence over process goals, such as “To run 2,000 miles during the calendar year.” Plus, in the end, this stuff is suppose to be fun! Enjoy life and have hope for what you can accomplish. It’s a new year and a new time to actualize your dream.

And remember, a goal without a plan, is just a wish.

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Tips on running a marathon

102679-019-014fRunning a marathon or half marathon is a whole different beast than the 5K or 10K running race. It really comes down to one very important skill: Endurance. Mentally it is very difficult to grasp this concept in our training, when we’re used to just going out running at a certain comfortable pace and then completing a certain comfortable distance. It’s often quite challenging to get out of our comfort zone, but as you may know this is what brings the most rewards in life!

 

1. Pacing

Often in a workout we start out blazing fast in the first interval and by the last interval our energy is zapped. Often this happens in races too, we start out energized and focused only on being competitive in the moment. It’s an extremely common mistake to warm-up and then go for broke. Often the first push of a workout should actually feel easy, efficient and nearly effortless. Keep in mind you need the energized surge of adrenaline to last you through the whole workout. Many people start out revved up and then by the end of class they pitter out. If you don’t exert such a huge effort at the start of the workout, by the end you might just surprise yourself with the level to which you can accomplish it. Once I did a 4th of July Firecracker 4-mile run. I really thought I was going to win. I started out the run doing a 1-mile race pace! I was in the lead! I kept up a good strong pace for 3 of the miles but by the last mile I had nothing in the tank and got passed by five girls, the fifth one as I was coming across the finish line I heard my friend Richard yelling “Go Maggie! Finish STRONG!” I didn’t know that meant there was someone inches behind me as I approached the finish line! She passed me one second ahead of me. What a bittersweet lesson on pacing.

 

2.  Long Distance Run (LDR)

The single most important run you can possibly do for training for a marathon or half marathon, is the LDR. It should truly be done in a slow to moderate pace, maybe slower than you’re used to running. And it should really push your limits for length. I recommend going by time rather than distance. For example start with a 1 hour run, if you’re ready for that. Then build on that, each week by increasing the time by 10 or 15 minutes. If you add on too much time too soon, you may get injuries, or illness, and staying injury-free is crucial!

 

3. Recovery

Lastly, but probably most important, be sure to take time off every 10 -14 days or if you’re feeling really run down. If you are following a proper training plan, you’ll definitely need to build in recovery days to refresh and rebuild and take it really easy, including foam rolling, stretching and eating helathy. Recovery can be the most challenging for some runners!

Running shoes: back to the basics

I am a runner. I have been a runner all my life. It’s funny that although we are all able to run and do so all throughout our childhood, some of us do not consider ourselves “runners.” If you are a slow runner, you are still a runner. Maybe you do not have the genetic predisposition to be the next Usain Bolt. However, you are able to run. “Run for your life!” is a saying essential to survival. But, instead of running everyday, we sit everyday. We sit as we drive, we sit as we eat, we sit as we use our computers, we sit until our bodies are chronically aching and obesity is rampant. Then we try to go for a run wearing these big bouncy rubber-soled shoes that prohibit all our sensory abilities of our feet. Yes, we have more cushion wearing the modern running shoes, and more protection from dangerous terrain. But, how was it that the human race coped with “running for their lives” without these extra thick-heeled running shoes up until the 1970’s? You’d think that since then the amount of injury to knees, feet ankles would have dramatically dropped, or at least we’d be fitter and less overweight. However, it’s not the case. In fact, there are more running injuries than ever before. The large over-built stability shoes have actually robbed the body’s ability to stabilize! 

If you want to improve your stability in your feet, ankles and knees, then try this: Find your local track and go to the nice soft grassy in-field. Take off your shoes and socks and do a few laps on the grass in-field. It may feel weird, but this is natural and how our bodies can naturally perceive your own best running gait. Another option if you live near a beach, try a mile or less at a time, running barefoot on the hard packed sand – you may be on sensory overload! I tried it last week and it felt awesome!

Once you get more comfortable with running barefoot, I urge you to begin diminishing your running shoe. Start little, by little, inch by inch, reducing the thickness of your sole of the shoe. Really pay attention to what your body is doing and how it is changing. It may take you a year or more to adjust gradually to this new type of shoe. Also, begin with shorter runs and progress at most 10% longer distances at a time to get more comfortable. Be conservative in your process of learning to run back to the basics.

Lastly, just try taking off your shoes more, whether at home around the yard, at a park. It feels very liberating, to say the least. Imagine if we went through life with thick rubber gloves on our hands, not being able to use the sense of touch. Maybe some glove company would even make loads of money, and we’d be left senseless.

If you’re more interested in this topic, check out a great book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. I highly recommend it.

Happy trails!

Don’t let injuries set you back

Plantar Faciaitis, Patella syndromes, IT Band syndrome, and other chronic aches and pains can be difficult to detect and even more difficult to heal. If you’re an athlete, it’s inevitable you’ll be nursing some wound sooner or later. Many endurance athletes I know get repetitive stress injuries particularly in the knees, shoulders and back. Over the years, I’ve had dozens of injuries, and most of them I was able to nurse back to health and be back out doing my sport within days. The difficult thing, is that doctors tend to give mixed results and often refer you to a specialist, who may refer you to someone else. I find the whole process of dealing with our healthcare system doesn’t give quick or clear answers, especially in the case of chronic conditions. Don’t let the process of healing your injury get you frustrated.

What do you do when you are limited from an injury?

1. The first thing you should do is rest the sore area. And stay positive: the power of positive thinking can heal you!

2. If it’s muscular-related, and it’s not a bone fracture, then ice it. Typically the pain is due to inflammation and one of the best drug-free ways to reduce inflammation is 10 minutes of icing once an hour.

3. Ibuprofen is a great anti-inflammatory to take, in moderation, to reduce the pain and swelling.

4. After a few days of healing and it’s feeling better again, you may want to do modified exercise to keep up your conditioning so you don’t lose too much muscle.

5. Then after a healing period, carefully try your sport again.

Keep in mind, you may be limited with your range of motion or with as much strength as you had originally, so it may be discouraging. However, one step at a time you’ll be back to doing activities you love. Don’t let the injury limit you. Some people have missing limbs and yet they still find a way to overcome life’s obstacles! Check out these amazing athletes! Whatever you do, don’t give up. Don’t let injuries keep you from accomplishing your dreams and goals. “All we have to fear is fear itself.”

Work with your Strengths

We each are born with specific genetic body-types and we have only so much we can do to transform them and shape them into our dream body. Yes, plastic surgery is one option, but in regards of fitness we are genetically inclined to do certain activities. One factor that determines our strengths and weaknesses are the amount of slow-twitch versus fast-twitch muscle fibers we are born with. Slow-twitch muscles are the muscles fibers that are best for long endurance sports, or aerobic exercise. Whereas, fast-twitch fibers are recruited when a muscle contracts for a shorter burst of energy, called anaerobic exercise. The muscles fibers are on a spectrum that ranges from Type I, slow-twitch to Type II b, very fast-twitch. Therefore, we are naturally built to accel more at one type of exercise over others. Of course, it’s important to have a well-rounded workout regime of both aerobic and anaerobic work. You may find it works much better for your specific body-type to do one type of activity over the other.

Runners going for it at the San Diego ITU Triathlon

My suggestion, as the title implies, is that go for what your body is built. If running marathons doesn’t seem to work well for you, yet you can run extremely fast 200 meter sprints, you could be more of a fast-twitch guy/girl. However, if all you’ve ever done is quick short exercises and you’ve never dabbled in the realm of endurance sports, you may not know what you’re missing! Try both and work at it to see what you’re made of. You never know unless you give it a try. Hey, you may be the next best Ironman Triathlete.

Sunny weather = showing more skin

Are you ready to unveil to the world all your glory on the beaches and boardwalks of summer? How is that tummy looking? How are those thighs? Do you look good nearly naked? If you are confident in your physique then you probably don’t need to read this. But those of us who are striving to look a little better this spring and summer than we did last year, read on.

First off, it IS possible to achieve a lean healthy looking body! Now stop all that negative chatter and have hope.

Slim down before hitting the beaches!

Slim down before hitting the beaches!

Two of the greatest methods for getting that ideal body is through exercise and good nutrition. Easier said than done, eh? From my experience, we have to make it an on-going lifestyle to get the fat off and keep it off. Here’s a few tips this spring for looking slimmer and leaner.

  • Cut back on sugar. Sweets are a big culprit in adding extra empty calories to our diet, especially when consumed not before, not during nor after training. Like at 10 PM! Ease off on those girl scout cookies…
  • Drink more water. Staying hydrated
  • Drink less sweetened beverages. Or cut it out completely. Sodas, flavored drinks and other sweet drinks are a huge source of extra calories that just turn to fat! Just stick to water as the best beverage.
  • Speaking of fat, easy does it on the Easter candy, and other foods high in fat such as trans fats and saturated fats, like butter, cream and cheese. Instead eat healthy fats occasionally like plant-based foods, for exampl avocados, olive oil, and flax seed oil.
  • Don’t skip meals and get really starving and binge. Eat every 2 – 3 hours and prioritize eating more of the calories early in the day and taper off for a light meal at dinner.
  • Workout, get outside in this beautiful spring weather and go for a jog, go ride a bike, or just walk. Soon you’ll be showing the world your tan lines and if you skip workouts today, you’ll regret it in the summer!
  • Buy a nice new pair of running shoes to inspire you to feel excited to run, and throw out those old smelly shoes. Running shoes have limited miles available, so don’t use the same pair for too long.
  • Set a plan and schedule your workouts. If you have a job, you make sure to schedule that into your day, that will pay your bills. Well, if you schedule exercise, it will keep your heart healthy and help you to enjoy your life longer after you retire for that “job.” You are going to have your job your whole life, you are not going to have your job. Make fitness a priority.
  • Track your progress. If you can, take measurements of your waist and hips with a tape-measure to track your progress, instead of just weighing yourself.
  • Lastly, try to team up with a friend or join a running group, softball team, or bootcamp, like http://www.upyourfit.com/ my class in PB San Diego, CA! Power to the teamwork!

Well, if nothing else I hope this gets you pumped up to be healthier and connecting to your physical body. We are in our heads so much, it’s time to get out and go for it! You have the potential to be so much more than you can even imagine.

Running Right

With OH so many people giving advice on how to run faster, longer and stronger, it can be hard to know what to believe. In fact, sometimes the advice is too overwhelming so we just use our own ideas on how to get faster. People try weighted vests, ankle weights, running too far too fast, the forward lean, running stairs, doing drills. Some of these are useful, some not so much.

The most common error I find runners do is every time they run at the same exact pace. Do you just go out for a run without a plan, except maybe to run a specific distance? What is the point of the workout without a plan!? Plan the work, work the plan. Every run should not be the same. Getting a good workout is important, but you’ll never make progress if you’re going at the same heart rate, the same speed and the same intensity every single time. If you think on race-day some magic will happen and you’ll suddenly run faster than you have in your same-pace training, you’re wrong.

Every runner is different and has different needs. For example, if you’re doing four runs each week you could be doing a LDR (long distance run), an interval run, an easy run, and a tempo run. Each run has different relevancies and should be completed with thoughtful planning. It’s OK to run easy sometimes, especially if you’re particularly fatigued. And if you’re doing an interval workout, you really need to get an easy recovery between sets. People under-value easy or fun runs. Conversely, people forget to run fast. . . or think they cannot run fast. One of the single best ways to get better form, to have a quicker stride, and a longer stride is running faster. Period. Our bodies subconsciously become more efficient and good form is the result. This means: go to a track. Start out with fast 200’s and rest in between. Then, build to fast 400’s and rest in between. All the drills in the world won’t make you as good of a runner as you could be by simply running like a race horse. Work hard and train smart.

New! RUN TRAINING

Mondays at 3:45 PM and 5 PM

In Pacific Beach, San Diego at Kate O. Sessions Park

5 Class punch-card for $75

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