23 May 2012

Jumpstart Your Motivation

Tired of running through the same exercise and drill?  Regret that you ate three brownies or kept digging in the potato chip bag?  Feel tired and empty of energy and enthusiasm?  

It takes work to establish new habits and resist temptation, to make time for exercise and prepare healthy food.  Work is work, but it pays off in a healthier, stronger you.  So make it fun!  

Here are five ideas to help you rediscover the rich experience of whole, fresh foods and a new adventure in exercise.
  1. Designate an evening this week to enjoy the rich experience of cooking a soup from scratch or stir up some risotto and pair it with a big salad.  Try these recipe from Cooking Light http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/southwestern-chicken-soup-10000001120320/  or http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/smoked-gouda-risotto-with-spinach-mushrooms-10000000225093/
  2. Set a new challenge to test your fitness.  Find a race in your area and train for it, or register for a HOT Yoga class at the local Y or Community Recreation Center.  Search for a race at Runner’s World http://www.runnersworld.com/cda/racefinder/             
  3. Visit a local farmers market for fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers this summer.  In Ohio, markets usually open in early June.  Here’s a link to find a market near you http://www.simplesteps.org/eat-local/farmers-markets?gclid=CLyc9O2jlrACFUFo4AodwlUt3g
  4. Visit your local park to bike the trails, kayak or hike the terrain.  Engage the whole family and go on an outdoor treasure hunt! http://www.geocaching.com/  Tip: bring your bug spray.
  5. Bike to school or work.  In our community, a local bike shop sponsored a three-week “bike to school” challenge in May.  But why stop in June?  Learn more about the National Bike Challenge at http://nationalbikechallenge.org/join.html               
Work banishes those three great evils: boredom, vice and poverty. – Voltaire

16 May 2012

Choosing the Right Running and Yoga Apparel and Gear

If you practice a sport regularly, you quickly realize that the shoes, clothes and gear you choose are very important.  The primary goal is comfort, and once you find the right brand/style, you’ll become a loyal fan.  For instance, we'll buy multiple pairs of our favorite running shoes when we find them on sale, and stock them until it's time to change.

The last things you want to think about during a hard workout are your clothes, shoes or gear.  With the right apparel and accessories, you’ll be able to focus on your skill and performance.  

Whether it’s called DriFIT® by Nike, ClimaCool® by Adidas, Play Dry® by Reebok or ChargedCotton® by Under Armour, it’s a cotton/poly blend material that helps wick away moisture from your skin to keep you cooler.  I don’t run in anything else.  100%-cotton shirts soak up sweat, weigh on your body and make you feel hotter.  There are various blends by brand, and not all are created equal, but we definitely recommend buying a few quality shirts for those hot summer runs.

Yoga Mats
Who knew there were so many different brands of yoga mats?  Two key factors to look at are thickness (thinner is easier for balance, but thicker is obviously better for cushion) and stickiness (important if you sweat a lot, although you can layer a nonslip mat towel on top for better “grip”.) 
 We liked this quick review by FitSugar, which mentions eco-friendly mats by Jade Harmony, reversible ones by Gaiam and design-your-own by Yogamatic. http://www.fitsugar.com/Best-Yoga-Mats-18921428

Running shoes
There are so many things to consider when choosing shoes including your weekly mileage, possible pronation and foot structure.  This flowchart (click to download PDF) by Runners World is a good decision guide for selecting the right pair.  If you are looking for a new shoe, we recommend visiting a running store where their staff is trained to help you find the right model.  Don’t be embarrassed to jog around the store to test comfort (if your heel slips or your toes touch the front, you’ll develop blisters from friction).

RW also reviewed other products including running watches and rain gear at http://www.runnersworld.com/channel/0,7119,s6-240-0-0-0,00.html.  Garmin and Timex are best sellers of GPS and heart-rate-monitor watch combinations, which are great if you frequently travel or explore new trails.

If you are still undecided, pick up a trade magazine (Runner’s World or Yoga Journal) for reviews or ads, then look up items on Amazon to see how products have been rated by others.  Finally, with ideas in mind visit a niche store for the expert advice of their staff.  Don’t feel guilty about investing in a more expensive item that will affect your performance and comfort.  One of my favorite accessories that I still wear today are the Oakley sunglasses (pictured above) that I purchased in 1998!

09 May 2012

5K Race Day Recap

After following a training program over the last 6 weeks which told me how often, how far and how fast to run, it all came down to Race Day.  My race was actually in the evening (7:30p), so I focused on drinking water, eating protein and carbohydrates and sneaking in a 15-minute afternoon nap on race day.  I ate a light dinner at 4p, and nothing after.

Following the advice of my coach (husband) about taking a warm-up run before the race, I registered my kids for the half-mile race around the track.  My warm-up was running across the field to cheer one then the other, and at times running alongside to encourage them to the finish.  I faulted, however, on his other piece of advice: to start out slow.  

Given the excitement of the race, the fact that my iPod skipped past my first pace song with my first 5 steps, and the downward grade at the start of the course, I am sure I started out too fast.  I always do.

The first two miles were great.  The course was relatively flat, there were residents cheering from their driveways, volunteers encouraging runners at turns and water stations.  It was truly a fun run.  Until I began to wonder if mile three was even marked.  Where was it??  I had to be close.  Did I already (hopefully) pass it?  Time seemed to slow down.

Only had one mishap, a shoelace came untied.  And unfortunately, it cost me the glory of reaching my goal.  I wanted to run it under 25 minutes, and I crossed the line at 25:03.  And believe me, I pushed past the rubbery thighs and burning lungs at the home stretch, kicked it in as I watched the clock ticking second by second closer to 25.  My foot didn't hit the pad until after it read 25.  

Oh well, there’s always the next race.  No matter how taxing the training seems and how exhausting the race feels, there is nothing like the rush of racing and the feeling after completing it.  Stay strong, stay committed and keep on runnin'!