Up Your Fit

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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!

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Strong Core for Winter Sports

It’s December and now is the season for skiing, snow boarding, snow shoeing, ice skating, and even sledding. If you’re not an active winter athlete, and you prefer to sit on your butt gaining weight this winter, then don’t bother reading this article. But if you have hopes and dreams, or scheduled plans to get involved in winter activities, I advise you to strengthen your core. Even if you do just want to sit on the couch all winter, tucking in your tummy and improving your posture will at least make your waistline appear a little slimmer.

Many people refer to “the core,” and typically we think of the abdominals as our core. But it is much MUCH more than just abs! It includes any muscle that is directly engaged with the spine or pelvis. The core will be the protective barrier for accidents or nasty falls. Therefore, a strong core is automatic injury prevention. Many winter sports are on very slick surfaces, where balance and stability are absolutely essential. Yet again, the core muscles will keep you balanced and on your feet. Changing directions on snow comes not just from your lower body, but the pelvis shifts your weight as it is the powerhouse of your whole body. Need a few exercises that will get your core powered up for the season, without any equipment? Watch this video:

Please don’t end up ruining your entire winter season, by getting injured out there on your first weekend. Firm up and stay tight. Have fun!

Eating at the right time

Having a hefty meal for dinner, after skipping lunch and barely eating a sufficient breakfast seems to be what many Americans do in their busy lives. Eating a nice piece of chocolate cake at the end of dinner also goes along with this routine. Then a few hours later after consuming 90 % of his/her calories for the day, it’s bedtime.

If you’re gonna eat a donut, do it in the morning!

Is this possibly why we are getting a poor night’s sleep after we just loaded up on fat, sugars, carbs, etc.? How can we run around all day long and forget to eat properly? Easy, life is busy and eating isn’t always at the forefront of our mind. However, our bodies go without food as we sleep at night and when we awake it’s the best possible time to pack it full of calories and nutrients to be productive and burn more calories efficiently. Breakfast is crucial. Numerous studies have linked breakfast-eaters with a lower body fat percentage. Next, lunch is the second most important meal of the day. Try to eat a nice filling lunch full of complex carbohydrates, lean protein and plenty of vegetables. Then, make dinner your smallest meal of the day. If you’re at a restaurant for example, just eat an appetizer.

Another big mistake with the right timing of meals is just after a workout. No appetite after your workout? Try drinking a smoothie, or a protein drink such as Kefir. Drinking flavored kefir, like blueberry, pomegranate, strawberry, etc, is full of the protein and carbs your body desperately needs after working out. If you deny your body the post-workout food, you’ll have a much more difficult time losing weight. In fact, some studies show that if you don’t have a post-workout meal, your body goes in to a sort of “starvation mode” and stores more fat out of a survival instinct.

Lastly, the further time goes by after your workout, the less junk food you should eat. That means, no late-night desserts if your workout was at 8 AM. Are you just dying to eat a piece of pie? Then eat it first thing in the morning! Right before or right after your workout! I know it seems crazy, but think of food as fuel. You start out the busy day with no fuel in your tank, things could get ugly. On the flip side, you fill up your tank right before you turn your car off for the day the fuel will not get burned up and will just sit in your tank turning to fat. It’s all in the timing.

Interested in getting in to triathlons?

Ahhhhh! The rewards of biking!

As we wind down 2012, the new year is right around the corner. It may be time for you to try a new challenge. One of the most calorie-burning sports out there is triathlon. It’s also a great way to keep fit in a diverse set of movements, not to mention all the benefits to your lungs and heart. It’s tough to find many other sports that compare. Plus, the sport has transformed by life, my body and my mind’s expectations of what I can accomplish! So, I hope you get inspired!
A few tips on breaking in to the sport:
1. Work on your weaknesses: if you come from a running background, get out and start swimming. If you come from a swimming background, get out and start pounding the pavement on the bike and run. We are all drawn to do things we’re comfortable with and feel that we’re good at, but this is not how you become the best triathlete. Keep focusing on how you can improve.
2. The bike! It’s usually the biggest proportionately in any tri. So, it’s good to get a good bike and ride it often. If you’re trying to ride a Tri Bike, check out this article: http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2012/11/07/seven-tips-for-getting-comfortable-in-the-aero-position/
3. Consistency: as with accomplishing any other goal you need to have consistent diligent efforts. That means do not take off two weeks or even one week randomly just because you’re feeling lazy. Get up and get going! Don’t make excuses. You only have one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do in life. One step at a time consistently train for your race.
4. Lastly, get a coach. Even if you just need that extra guidance for your first race. They can offer expertise, knowledge and know-how to avoid all the mistakes they made or that you could possibly make. It’s worth a few extra bucks to get to the starting line well-prepared.

Triathlon is a fun challenging and very rewarding sport! Good luck.

Fitness slump? Get to the tipping point!

Are you at a plateau in your speed, your fitness, your weight, body fat . . . are you at a plateau in your life? Are there things you want to change but just don’t know how exactly or know why it hasn’t changed yet? Often it can be very frustrating when you want something so bad, and you feel it’s right there within reach. Sometimes it just takes a tipping point to set you into action with accomplishing your healthy goals. Here’s a few guidelines to keep in mind if you decide to get in the best shape of your life.

1. The mental belief you can do it. Many times our own thoughts and beliefs prevent us from even forming a plan to begin working towards the goal. It’s like standing at the bottom of a huge mountain and you know what you want is up at the top. So, will you stand at the bottom of the mountain making up excuses why you cannot climb it? You must accept the reality that your goals are absolutely achievable!

2. Plan the work, work the plan. This is the second biggest ingredient for getting in the best shape of your life. Create a calendar that guides your weekly training plan of what workouts you’ll do and when. Getting something scheduled is the way to make it really happen! So, stop wishing and starting doing.

3. Stay positive. This ties in with number 1 on the list. You will most likely have stumbling blocks and setbacks that will discourage you. But, keep believing in your ability to make this dream a reality by not giving up and losing motivation. We have a very serious obesity epidemic today, and the way to change is with one person at a time. Your healthy fit way of life will positively impact numerous people, in more ways than you may even realize. Conversely, bad habits can rub off on others and create a domino effect.

4. Re-set your social circle. People will not always encourage your choices to eat low-fat and cholesterol-free foods. They may not even like it that you cannot attend some function because you have plans to exercise at that time. They may scoff at you at restaurants when you don’t chose to partake in dessert. Just remember, you are not alone. You are choosing the way of the healthy life. Many people will not understand why you do what you do. But, I guarantee you: we healthy folks support your choice! We are out here cheering for you and knowing that every little step counts towards climbing up that mountain. Keep that in mind and explain this message to your closest friends/ family and ask them to be supportive. And the rest of the critics can just frack off.

Your life is over in the blink of an eye, take action towards being the healthy, juicy, fit person you always wanted to be. I got your back.

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!

Getting motivated

Take the stairs to burn calories and lose fat!

A lot of getting fit is mental. Many people who struggle with weight loss simply have had a series of failures to lose the body fat. For example, I had one client who was 30 lbs. overweight and had a desire to lose the weight, but gave up after one tough session. It makes me sad to see people resist exercise due to the fear of pain, and other mental inhibitions. Our society is so customized to convenience and pleasure that we won’t even walk ten minutes to the grocery store and carry a few pounds of bags home. Come on, admit it! We have all been there. We all have the extremely reasonable excuses why NOT to get in shape. I’ve met a few others who have had erratic work schedules and just could not achieve losing much of anything, except their health.

Conversely, many fitness professionals have the urge to train the strong athletes and naturally gifted: isn’t that what bootcamps are all about when you really get down to it? Very few “bootcamps” actually accommodate obese campers. The over-weight end up in the back of the pack, feeling discouraged as usual. Unfortunately, many fitness instructors cater to the strongest.

When will we wake up? Weak, strong, flabby, skinny-fat, and pot-belly people hear me out! Your time on this planet is limited. Forget the ridiculous “boot-camps” and coaches that make you work out till you puke. Or the instructors that get in your face or negatively encourage you. This is not the answer. The answer is patience, perseverance and internal motivation. One day at a time: get out there.

  • Start with doing something active every day. Even if it’s just walking around the block.
  • Try hiring a personal trainer or coach to jump-start your training. It’s worth every penny to get you over the “hump” of even starting up a fitness plan.
  • Looking more for weight-loss? Try cardio and high intensity interval training. Looking to get cut and build muscle? Try resistance training. And do both often, so you work all your different energy systems of the body.
  • Frequency: if you can only designate one day per week to work out, that’s better than nothing. However, the more often you workout, the quicker results appear. (See the first bullet point)
  • Lastly, eating right combined with exercise is how you get the most bang for your buck! It’s the magic combination, don’t just do one without the other. I recommend keeping a food journal. I like the Canvas Food Journal app to use on a mobile device.

Power up your workouts! Get motivated and go out and get started, we have several more months of showing skin and looking healthy on the beaches this summer.

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