Tag Archives: running

Find The Right Exercises For Your Mind and Body

17 Aug

This post features guest blogger, Jim Rollince, sharing some tips and information on finding the right exercise for you mind and body.

For ages, experts have reported that exercise is great for your health, but it’s not just excellent for physical health such a losing weight and toning muscle, but exercise can aid in improving your mental health as well. Exercise is wonderful for those looking to stay in shape as well as improve their quality of life, and there are countless exercises that people can do. However, not everyone is able to exercise in the same manner, so it’s important that people find exercises that work for them. The following list outlines exercises that may be right for different people with different goals.

Among one of the most popular exercises is running, which is one of the best all-around exercises for your body. This type of exercise is ideal for those who want to lose weight, stay in shape, and improve their stamina. It can be challenging for those with knee problems, but it can help those with breathing difficulties. Plus, running can easily be done indoors with treadmills or along the street or walking path. Exercises like this, when done regularly, have been known to have many benefits, such as improving mood, energy, and sex drive, because exercise releases endorphins that help with these things.

There are countless types of exercises out there that can help people strengthen their muscles. Lunges and squats are among some of the most beneficial strengthening exercises for your legs, and home gym equipment such as ellipticals can help with this, too. Push-ups and pull-ups are great for your arms, and for those people, who want a strong core, try sit-ups and other variations of the exercise. These exercises are wonderful for maintaining healthy bone and muscle while aiding in posture and balance, preventing injury, and relieving pressure on joints.

Some people may not feel physically ready to begin running right away or may not enjoy vigorous exercise. In this case, there are many other relaxing exercises that are still great for the body and are sometimes even better for relieving stress and improving mood. Exercises such as tai chi and yoga are remarkable for improving flexibility, and they can greatly help with breathing. In addition, these flexibility exercises can help those people who want to reduce stress levels and to relax.

Sometimes exercise doesn’t have to be a structured activity at the gym or in a class, but getting outside and doing physical activity can do wonders for the body and for mental health. Many outside exercises are great for those wanting to explore the outdoors, stay entertained while exercising, or do something more exciting. Among some outdoor activities include rock climbing, which is a wonderful strengthening activity for both the legs and the arms, canoeing or kayaking, which help exercise arms, and hiking, among many other sports. Many outdoor sports can also be done inside, so those who are interested can do them all year-long such as running, swimming, and biking, which all can be either vigorous or relaxing.

Some people may not find any joy in independent exercises, but there are plenty of ways to get involved in team sports, which often combine several exercises into one game, such as flexibility, running, and strengthening exercises. High schools and colleges offer plenty of opportunity for students to participate in team sports, and those outside of school may be able to find local teams to play with. Volleyball, basketball, and other team sports are excellent for improving coordination and strength. Plus, they can teach you plenty of skills to aid in your personal development.

Types of physical exercise vary so greatly, and there is always something for someone, no matter their physical goals and abilities. However, it doesn’t matter what type of exercise you’re doing, from walking to yoga or running and more, any type of physical exercise is good for the body, and they all release endorphins that aid in a happier mood, more energy, and better well-being.

The Joggin’ for Frogmen Race – A Salute to Those Who’ve Served

31 Jul

I had the good fortune of running in the Joggin’ for Frogmen race, a race held in honor of 31 fallen American Warriors.  The race was the first annual, and held one week before the first anniversary of the August 6th, 2011 Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan, which took the lives of 31 of our American Warriors from various branches of our military.  The race was held on the beautiful campus of San Diego State University.  Men, women and children came out to the support the cause!

The Joggin’ for Frogmen 5k teamed up with the BOOT CAMPAIGN (www.bootcampaign.com) to raise money for the Navy SEAL Foundation and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The BOOT CAMPAIGN profits, race registration profits, and donations will go to these foundations for them to fulfill their own missions in helping military families.

The thing that struck me during this race is the role running plays in promoting community development.  Finding a cause or something you are passionate about can help develop your fitness goals.  Many people attending today were personally vested in the event as they or someone they love has served in the US Armed Forces.  Surrounding yourself with a group of passionate people at an event like this can go a long way toward prompting health and wellness.  In addition to running the 3.3 mile run, attendees had the opportunity to see the Leap Frogs jump from a plane and parachute into the field to join race participants, one of the highlights of the morning.

After I caught my breath from a hilly run, I headed over to meet Bestselling author Sean Parnell, who was talking to race participants and signing copies of his book, Platoon Outlaw.  Hundreds of people lined up to meet him and he took time with each one of them.  I walked away with a signed copy of his book, dedicated to a friend of my husband and I, who served overseas.

I had a few moments to talk to the race coordinator as well as second place overall women’s finisher Jen Skakiw.  I asked Jennifer her advice for runner’s training for a 5K run and she shared that an essential part of race preparation is to incorporate speed training into your routine.  A 5K for people looking to perform well is a very faced-paced race.  Out of the gate you are running at nearly a full-speed pace and by the start of mile two you are running all out.  In some way running a 5K almost feels harder to me than a half marathon, as from the start it moves quickly.  Warming up is important because of this, so aim to get in a few minutes of running before the start of the race.  Jennifer also recommends working in hill training as you prepare.  The Joggin’ for Frogmen race course was rather hilly.  I was suddenly glad for the hills I’ve been training on.

This event was a great opportunity to bring out community and support an important cause.  For those looking to incorporate running into your fitness routine, consider finding a race that supports something you care about.  You’ll be more likely to get others involved as a result, train hard and enjoy the event!

Top Four Ways People Sabotage Their Fitness Efforts

25 Jul

Image copyright Doug Berry available on istock.com

1)      Starting Too Big: Dreaming big is good.  I want to lose 50 pounds, I want run 10 miles, I want to hold a plank position for 2 minutes.  Achieving, however, is attainable by making small steps towards your goals.  Health and fitness should be a lifelong pursuit, not one that lasts a month.  Just like weight loss, if you want it to last, you need to take one-step at a time.  Begin with a reasonable goal. If you are not a runner and desire to develop your skills, set a goal that you will run/walk one mile three times a week.  That’s it.  Don’t go out and try and run three miles on your first attempt.  You’ll disappoint and loss motivation to continue.  Bottom line: Like building a house, develop a strong foundation.  Start one brick at a time and move up from there.2)      Failing to Develop a Support Network:  People are much more likely to stick to a goal and succeed in achieving it when they are surrounded by like-minded people who offer support.  There are many ways to develop a support network.  Commit to fitness goals with your partner.  Create challenges for each other and register for a class you can do together.  Become part of an online accountability group.  These areas are often good places to share ideas, ask questions and gain support.  Find a smaller gym where you are more likely to get to know the individuals or join a running group or hire a trainer to help keep you on track.  Bottom line: People never succeed in isolation, they succeed in groups.

3)      Doing What Others Say You Should:  A lot of people will offer advice when you become vocal about wanting to get in shape.  They might tell you the only way to do it is to lift weights, or to do cardio an hour a day.  The reality is that you will not stick with it if you don’t enjoy it.  Keep in mind that it will be difficult at first.  You can’t say “I don’t enjoy any exercise at all”.  Pick something that seems to suit you.  Maybe you love tennis, or you like walking your dog.  Try a yoga class and start with gentle yoga as to not overexert yourself.  If you like the outdoors consider hiking.  Create obstacle course for your kids in the park and participate with them.  Bottom line: In some form or fashion start moving.

4)      Exercising Purely for Weight Loss:  Many people decide to exercise to lose weight and when the weight doesn’t come off quickly they become disappointed.  Your body takes time to adjust to new patterns.  It has a strong desire to hold on to fat and pounds, especially for women.  Choose exercise for health.  Years ago a friend of mine told me about her commitment to start runing.  Day in and day out she ran, everyday seeing the same image in the mirror.  Not a lot was changing physically for her but fortunately the main reason she chose to start running was for her health.  She felt better physically and mentally regardless of what the scale said.  This motivated her to stick with it.  She still exercises daily and now has an incredible physique.  It didn’t happen overnight though.  It built over a series of years.  Bottom line: Exercise for sanity, not vanity.

Five Tips To Preparing for Your First Race

21 Jun

So your thinking of doing a race?  Signing up for a race is an excellent way to help you stay motivated to run.  Realistically you could show up at nearly any fitness level and participate, but for most people simply knowing that you are going to be surrounded by others working to achieve their best will help you gain some motivation to work hard.

If you are new to racing, here are some basic tips that will help you ensure a successful and fun experience.

1) Search www.active.com for a listing of races in your area.  If you have never raced it’s nice to start with a local race.  Your body has likely acclimated to that climate and you will have a better chance of performing well.  If you have never ran at high altitudes, try it out before you place yourself in an environment where you are trying to perform.  There are races happening all the time everywhere so find one near you and enroll.

2)Set a goal.  You are likely to run faster on race day then you typically do.  Your adrenaline will kick in, you’ll be surrounded by motivated people and hopefully you will be rested.  That said, get an idea of your pace based on your practice runs and set a goal completion time.  During the race watch the clock and work to stay on track.

3) Carry water. Many races do not provvide water along the race route.  Make sure you find out ahead of time and carry water with you if needed, particularly if you are running over a 5K.  Ask anyone who has found themselves on a run dehydrated and without water and they will tell you it’s not fun.

4) Find a quality pair of shoes and use them for a while before the race.  Running shoes require you to break them in over time.  Never purchase new shoes right before a race.  I really enjoy shopping at stores specifically suited to runners when purchasing running shoes.  If you are in AZ, one of my favorites is  http://www.runnersdenaz.com/

5) Cold?  Shop your local www.goodwill.com store for some great prices on sports jackets.  You can probably find one so inexpensive that you can take it off part way into the race and leave it.  Many runners do this.  $2 to stay warm before a race is a great investment.  You can also put a hole in the top of a large plastic trash bag and wear it.  This will block the wind as you wait for the race to begin.

Making your first race a great experience is important to keeping your momentum.  Within a week of completing the race sign up for another one, in order to keep you on track.  Don’t be afraid to ask people for tips prior, most runners are happy to share their insights and experiences with new comers.    Good luck, have fun and Run for Life!

Running Tips: Creating Your Own Beginner’s Luck

22 May
Photo Copyright Drew McKenzie

Photo copyright Drew McKenzie http://drewmckenzie.com/

Ask any runner and chances are if they haven’t been running from a young age they will respond “I didn’t like doing this when I started”. Beginning to run can be challenging but it can provide great benefits over time. When you get started don’t think of running as winning races. Think of it as moving your body just a little faster than you usually walk around the mall. Anyone has the potential to do that. Decide today that you are going to incorporate it into your routine.

To Get Started:

1) Commit – just decide this is something you are going to do. Don’t think too much about it or you will talk yourself out of it. Put on your tennis shoes and just head out.

2) Pace Yourself – When you begin run as far as your body will allow. When you reach a point where you can’t go anymore stop and walk for a bit. Pay careful attention to how your body reacts. Don’t try to overdo your training the first month. If you start slowly you are more apt to continue.

3) Improve – Each day you run go just a bit farther than you did before. Maintain this pattern until you are running greater distances with ease. Don’t think about the entire run as you get started; just convince yourself to go for one more minute.

To Keep Going:

1) Schedule – Figure out what the best time of day for you to run is and stick with that. For many it’s early morning. Getting it done early ensures that you make time.

2) Fuel Positive Energy. The “I think I Can” attitude is always what allows us to accomplish our goals. Make a point to put quotes on your bulletin board, read success stories of runners, and subscribe to blogs. These things will keep running fresh in your mind and help you stay focused.

Overcoming Challenging Days:

1) There will be days when you struggle to get going. Just commit to five minutes and allow yourself to stop if you can’t make it. Generally once you get started you will keep going until you get to the end.

2) Enlist a support group. Join a running club, find a partner or become part of an online accountability group. These will foster support and motivation.

3) Reward Yourself. Set goals and when you achieve them do something nice for yourself. You might decide to treat yourself to a new running accessory every time you reach a certain distance. 4) Use mantras. Positive self-talk while you are running is critical. You CAN do this! Use phrases such as this:

Every day I get a little stronger and a little faster.

 I will not see results immediately but that doesn’t mean I am not making progress.

 I am worth it. I can do this.

I am improving with every step.

Want to read runner’s tips? Check Runner’s World Magazine at http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-267–14131-0,00.html  for more info. Good luck in your journey. Remember, once you get started, you’ll never look back!

Barefoot Running: Do What You Love, Love What You Do

12 Apr
My favorite new blog for the week, Barefoot Running, can be found at http://barefoot-monologues.com/
In one of her posts the author cites this quote “You can do anything, if you don’t put your mind to it.” I read that and was immediately hooked on her writing.  That quote is very true.  Sometimes when you over think things you get so caught up in the details you forget why you started in the first place, you begin to see the obstacles.  Pick something your passionate about and do it because you enjoy it.  No pressure, no end marker, nobody telling you that you haven’t been successful doing it unless you achieve xyz.
My running journey has been a lot like that, no pressure, I’ll just do it.  I didn’t think to myself when I started, “I’m going to win this race.”  I just ran and gave it my best, low and behold in doing that, my best eventually had me winning, something I had never thought even possible when I started. There are goals I’ve thrown my heart into, become obsessed with, only to see them never come to fruition.  My perspective has become not to think too much about things, and to do them out of love.  To resolve that even if I stay in last place, I’m okay there, because I am having fun.  Allowing myself that flexibility frees me.  In the end, do what you LOVE, LOVE what you do!

Is Trimethylxanthine Your Drug of Choice? The Benefits of Caffeine for Body Builders

9 Apr

Every day, 90% of Americans ingest trimethylxanthine.  It’s become our society’s drug of choice and it’s completely legal!  It’s even considered good for you by many?  How do you get it?  Run down to your local convenience store and buy yourself a cup of coffee.

Trimethylxanthine, better referred to as caffeine, is known to improve many things, including our ability to sustain a workout.  It’s obvious that caffeine benefits cardio related sports such as running and cycling.  It produces energy because it elevates the number of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream, allowing athletes to perform at high endurance levels for longer amounts of time.  In studies done on elite athletes, researchers found that two out of three athletes had caffeine in their system prior to or during completion (Del Coso et. al, 2011).  Less research exists on how caffeine affects athletes in other sports, such as bodybuilding.  Clearly there are experts on both sides of the fence that have differing opinions as to whether caffeine is beneficial for bodybuilders, but recent research seems to greatly support the use of caffeine in moderation.

The key benefits of caffeine:

Longer workouts:

Caffeine not only allows you to work out harder, it can also aid in allowing you to work out longer.  This is primarily due to the fact that, “During exercise, the body uses a form of starch called glycogen for energy. But once these stores are depleted— perhaps toward the end of a long workout— the body starts to feel like it’s running on empty. Caffeine slows glycogen depletion by encouraging the body to use more fat as fuel.” (Tarnopolsky, 1994).  Longer workouts burn more calories and build more muscle allowing for quicker gains in performance.

 Reduced pain:

No pain, more gain.  When the body begins to feel pain its natural reaction is to reduce it.  Many athletes utilize over the counter medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen to alleviate pain.  Caffeine has been shown to have an even greater effect on reducing pain.  Scientists from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) presented studies at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2007 meeting that  showed when subjects were give caffeine as opposed to aspirin and or a placebo on different occasions, they were able to do more bicep curls and leg extensions with less pain (Journal of Pain, 2003).

Recovery assistance:

When the body is working to recover it needs to refill glycogen stores in muscle cells.

Having full glycogen stores allows your body to send a signal to the muscles that the stores are adequate; thus, providing energy for recovery and growth.  This allows you to be fully prepared for your next workout.

There are number of ways individuals consume caffeine.  Caffeine pills have become popular among many people because unlike drinking Starbucks or Redbull, you only consume caffeine when ingesting them.  If you are using caffeine, make sure you are not also adding ingredients such as sweeteners and syrups, that take away from your efforts to lean down and build muscle.  One potential negative side-effect to consider is that over time the body can become immune to the effects of caffeine.  In addition, some people experience sensitivities.  It’s been known to cause jitteriness, anxiety, stomachaches and headaches.  Those individuals who have this reaction to caffeine should avoid it all together.  Timing your caffeine consumption properly will help you utilize it effectively.  For best results, consume on days you exercise, immediately before and after your workout for best results.  Remember, more does not always mean better.  For optimum performance consume a moderate amount, which equates to approximately 0.45–1.36 mg caffeine per lb. body weight.

Del Coso, et al. (2011).  “Prevalence of caffeine use in elite athletes following its removal from the World Anti-Doping Agency list of banned substances,” US National Library of Medicine, Camilo Jose Cela University, Madrid, Spain,” 2011 Aug;36(4):555-61. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21854160

Tarnopolsky, M.A. (1994). “Caffeine and endurance performance,”   Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Henderson General Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Sports Medicine.  Aug;18(2):109-25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21854160

Gliottoni, R. Motl, R. “Effect of Caffeine on Leg-Muscle Pain During Intense Cycling Exercise: Possible Role of Anxiety Sensitivity” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2008, 18, 103-115. http://web.clas.ufl.edu/users/msscha/PreMed/caffeine_musclepain.pdf