Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Buddy Up with Friends

Some of my most fondness memories of the hard training sessions I have done over the years were the times I spent with my friends who slogged and toiled with me. Each drop of sweat was truly shared as we “hung tough” together. If there ever is a place to build friendships it was there on the track, trails and parks where we worked our tails off. We were in it together, we succeeded and failed together.

I am a firm believer that regardless of your current fitness level, whether a world class athlete or recreational athlete you can benefit from “budding” up with some of your friends to workout together. Together you can motivate and encourage each other to strong workout performances.

The key is to find workout friends who are of similar strength. However, if your fitness levels vary greatly, you can still tailor the workout to benefit all.

Let us say we have Group A, they can run a mile in 10 minutes, and Group B, can run a mile in 13 minutes while Group C can run a mile in 15 minutes. Your workout calls for running 5 x 800 meters in 6 minutes.

Group C will leave first, one minute later Group B will leave, with Group A leaving one minute behind Group B and two minutes behind Group c. You stagger the starting times so that all groups should finish together.

Good luck with your training and finding friends to workout with.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Benefits of Cross-Training

Cross training, what is it and what can it do for you? Regardless of whether you are a competitive or a recreational athlete, cross training can be of great benefit to your overall fitness.

Cross training is performing “other” exercise routines which are not normally part of your primary program. Many people choose to use lighter exercises for cross training. For instance, if you are a walker or runner you may want to try swimming or cycling which have a lighter impact on the body.

Cross training allows you to work on different parts of the body that you may not have in your primary exercise. As a walker or runner, your arms may never see any exercise, but if you were to cross train by swimming or lifting weights you will engage those muscle groups into your program.

Cross training will help you avoid injuries by reducing the amount of work load you will place on one set of muscles. Through repeated action your muscles, bones and tendons could become overused. By cross training you will use different parts of your body thereby shifting the workloads around your body.

As a walker or runner here are some cross training exercises you should consider. Swimming, aerobics, weight lifting, rope jumping, stretching and cycling.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Commitment - Setting Your Goals

Whenever you start on an exercise program, the key aspect is to remain committed. Lack of commitment spells failure; there is no way to achieve personal fitness goals without being committed to them in the first place.

So what does commitment mean to you?

Firstly, commitment should be a goal. As you have probably read in other postings on this blog I firmly believe that you should write down all your goals, and the commitment is one of them.

Here is how you write down your goal. “I will remain committed to the goal of walking or running a 5km race on November 1, 2008 by walking or running four times each week for 20 to 30 minutes over the course of the next 5 months

Your goal is very clear and specific. You know what the goal is, how much you need to workout and what the deadline will be, the race.

So, as you place your race schedule or workout schedule for 2008, try writing down your goals and especially focus on the goal of being committed.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Long Slow Distance (LSD)

Yesterday we spoke of the need to vary your training up to increase your speed. To get to the speed you want to achieve, you will need to get some long slow distance runs or walks under your belt in order to build a solid base which will ensure that you will be able to maintain the speed that you will gain from that particular type of training.

So what does the slow distance do for you? As mentioned, once you get to the speed training and have attained a good speed level, you will be able to hold onto that speed throughout the season. If you do not get your long work in, and then work on your speed, you will get the speed but it will not last as long as you would hope.

Here is an example of how to balance distance and speed into your training.

Week 1 – 100% LSD – 0% speed
Week 2 – 100% LSD – 0% speed
Week 3 – 90 % LSD – 10 % speed
Week 4 – 90% LSD - 10 % speed
Week 5 – 85% LSD – 15% speed
Week 6 – 80% LSD – 20% speed
Week 7 – 70% LSD – 30% speed
Week 8 – 60 % LSD – 40% speed
Week 9 – 100 % LSD – 0% speed
Week 10 – 50% LSD – 50% speed
Week 11 – 30 % LSD – 70% speed
Week 12 – 100% LSD – 0 % speed
Week 13 – Race

Play around with some long distance and speed combinations until you find something that you feel comfortable with. Remember you have to be able to recover from your hard speed efforts.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Exercise and sleep

Most of us think that exercise and sleep have nothing to do with each other. On the contrary, although sleep is the opposite of exercise it plays a vital role in improving your health. In fact if you are sleep deprived you will more than likely experience changes in some of the dimensions of health.

So what does this have to do with exercise? People who exercise tend to have better sleeping habits, better sleeping habits result in improved health!

Try increasing your intensity of exercise as you progress in your program. As your intensity increases you will find you will sleep better. With that said, try not to exercise right before you go to bed because the acute effects of exercise will actually keep you awake.

Exercise well = sleep well

Happy dreaming!

Increase your Speed

If you have ever trained for awhile and found yourself in a rut, where no matter how hard you train it just seemed that you could not go any faster. What is the problem?

The problem may be you are training like a tortoise and wanting to run like the hare. Here are some tips for increasing your speed.

Run Intervals
Warm-up by jogging for 5 minutes slowly, then sprint for 30 seconds, jog 1 minute, sprint for 30 seconds, and jog another minute. The intensity and length of the intervals will depend on how fit you are. For starters try just a few repetitions, increasing them as you get fitter and stronger.

Run Hills
Warm-up for 5 minutes, find a small hill, run hard up the hill, and jog down. Repeat this until your heart rate is above 120 beats per minute, then jog back home slowly.

Run Strides
Warm-up for 5 minutes, find a smooth and flat piece of road, bike path, country road or grass field that is approximately 100 meters in length. Run the 100 meters fast, but in control. Think of yourself as an Olympic sprinter, smooth, strong and powerful.

Make sure that you are well rested to perform these “sprint” drills, incorporate some slow, long distance running, walking or jogging between these workouts to ensure adequate recovery.

by SpeedySneakers.com a Walking and Running Club for women.
Dedicated to promoting health and fitness through walking and running programs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Most Important Season

The most important time of the year to train and get ready for summer is in the winter months. This is the time to build your base from where you will springboard your summer workouts and racing season.

The base is that block of time, which can be as long as 12-weeks, where you will slowly and methodically build your strength through some long slow distance walks or runs. It is also the time to get into the weight room for anywhere between 2-3 times each week.

Missing or not taking advantage of the winter months will definitely cause you to start way behind any of your friends that committed themselves to a winter training program. I realize that when it is cold, it can be difficult to become motivated to get out there, or even run on a treadmill, but it has to be done in order to achieve your goals.

If you cannot be self-motivated, set small goals for yourself to get through the 12-weeks that you should commit to a winter program. Divide the 12 weeks into four quarters of three weeks each. After each three weeks, give yourself a reward such as a day off, or a longer sleep in on a regular workout day. At the end of the 12 weeks, treat yourself to a great tasting meal; forget the fat and carbs just do it. You will not loose anything by indulging after working out for so long.

It is now January if you have not started on your program; you are now looking at completing your winter program around April. The window is still open to get committed, so get out there today and make it happen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pack Away the Excuses

If you have forever contemplated getting started in a regular workout routine, but find yourself making excuses, now is the time to pack away Ms. Excuse.

Some people refer to excuses as “rationalization”, for most others they are just simply “excuses”. We are all human, we use rationalization all the time to fit our lifestyles, our moods and emotions. If we are feeling down, we may rationalize that having a sugary coke and piece of chocolate cake will help us feel better. Chances are it will probably make you feel worse.

Since rationalization is all in the mind and not anything physical, you should try to trick your mind to avoid falling into the rationalization trap.

Here are some tips to move beyond a state of rationalizing for the negative and into a stronger more positive state.

Determine to make a change. Tell your mind you are now ready to become healthy and fit.

Write down your intended goal. Make it specific, and measurable. “I will run a 5 mile road race on April 20 of this year”.

Tell others about your goal. Let others know what your goal is so that they can ask you about it and thereby force you into achieving your goal.

Setout a plan to achieve your goal. Write down specific steps you will need to take in order to reach the goal. If needed, solicit help from a coach.

Have fun. Always, have fun getting to your goal. If you goal is not fun then you probably have set the wrong goal.

For the benefit of all the readers of the Speedy Sneakers Blog, let us all know how you overcame the nuisance of making excuses and how you achieved your goals.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Three Times for 20-Minutes

If you are trying to get started in a fitness routine a good starting point may be to start out by walking, jogging or running for 20-minutes three times a week. If you are like me, I have often sat around and watched as 20-minutes just flew by and thought to myself, wow, I could have finished a quick workout. It is absolutely amazing how fast 20-minutes can just melt away when you are doing nothing. Not to mention if it is 5:30 a.m. and you are trying to squeeze every last minute out of your sleep.

So what to do to get those 20-minutes out of the day. First, make a contract with yourself. Write it down if need be. Get a friend to workout with you. If you have kids that are old enough to exercise, get them to go with you. If you have a husband who does not want to exercise, but will ride his bike alongside, get him to do it.

Decide whether you are a morning or an evening person. If you prefer getting up early, then get started on your workout. If you an evening person, delay that workout until the evening. Make it easier on yourself. Workout when your body and mind are ready.

Lastly, keep a dairy or a logbook of your workouts. This will help keep you motivated and on track.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Exercise intensity

So you started your exercise program. How do you know if what you are doing is sufficient enough to bring about cardiovascular improvements? One way that you can gauge your effort is by examining your intensity level.

Intensity is how much effort you put into your exercise. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) your intensity level should be between 60% and 90% of your maximum heart rate. This level of intensity is often referred to as your target heart rate (THR) zone. In order to find this level here are few simple calculations:

Predicted Maximal Heart rate (PMHR) = 220 - age
60% = PMHR X .60
90% = PMHR X .90

For instance, a 45 year female's THR zone would be
PMHR: 220 - 45 = 175
60%: 175 x .60 = 105
90%: 175 x .90 = 158

Therefore this individual should be exercising at a level that elevates her heart rate between 105 and 158.

Starting a Workout Program

Many millions of people have great difficulty starting a walking or running program to fulfill a personal fitness goal. Why? It’s simply too hard to start off. Once started, it becomes easy and manageable, but it’s just that start that is so difficult.

Here is a seven day workout plan that I think you will like, and it will definitely get you started. All sessions should be done as you feel.

Day 1 – Walk 15 minutes
Day 2 – Walk 10 minutes, run 5 minutes
Day 3 – Walk 8 minutes, run 5 minutes, and walk 2 minutes
Day 4 – Walk 5 minutes, run 5 minutes, and walk 5 minutes
Day 5 – Walk 2 minutes, run 8 minutes, and walk 5 minutes
Day 6 – Rest
Day 7 – Run 5 minutes, walk 5 minutes, run 5 minutes

This program allows you to ease into a program, by making it easy and simple to follow. The walking part should be seen as a recovery from your run. Running is where you will receive the most benefit. If you want to receive the same benefit as running, you will need to increase the amount of walking you do.

Try this out, and let me know how your program progresses. Best of luck.

This blog was contributed by Speedy Sneakers Walking and Running Clubs for women. Speedy Sneakers is committed to promoting women’s health and fitness through walking and running programs

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Right Diet

Over the years I have seen many new; great and wonderful diets come and go. I have always sat back and wondered why people get involved in diets such as the Atkins Diet, the Grape Fruit Diet, or a Soup Diet. In my mind, dieting borders on being dangerous and definitely counterproductive.

I believe that you should eat a wholesome diet of meat, fish, breads, fruit and vegetables. Sometimes this means eating some fatty acids, such as Omega-3 which is found in food such as salmon. Omega-3 is a good fat, and should not be taken out of your diet unless there is some medical reason to avoiding it.

You should also include complex carbohydrates into your diet. These are found in vegetables, nuts, seeds and grain. Complex carbohydrates are made up of chains of single sugar molecules. The long chains of sugar molecules are called starches and branched complex carbohydrates are called cellulose. Starches are fairly easy to digest, however your body does not digest cellulose, which is an important component of dietary fiber.

In conclusion, the right diet may not even be a diet. The right diet is a diet of foods that contain all the major food groups, in moderation. So, if you are considering going on a diet, speak to your doctor about the consequences of restricting your body from eating many of the great and wonderful foods that already exist and try to get onto the right diet.

This blog was contributed by Speedy Sneakers Walking and Running Clubs for women. Speedy Sneakers is committed to promoting women’s health and fitness through walking and running programs

Friday, January 11, 2008

Should I see my doctor before starting an exercise program?

This is a common question asked by many who have not exercised in quite some time. Most people do not even start an exercise program because they do not want to deal with the hassle and expense involved in seeing their physician. Well there is good news to this blog.....

The Surgeon General has said that most people can safely engage in exercise if they start slowly and work their way into their exercise program. Furthermore, as you start your exercise program begin with something you know you can handle and work you way into more and more exercise. I suggest following Peter's recommendation on starting your exercise program.

You can also use the following questionnaire to determine if you need to see your physician. http://uwfitness.uwaterloo.ca/PDF/par-q.pdf The PAR-Q is used by many fitness professionals who want to assess their clients current health. Answer the questions truthfully so that you can be on your way to a healthier life!

Exercise Consistently

I often preach to athletes who are starting out in an exercise program of the need to be consistent in their dedication and approach.

How many times have you started, stopped, started, stopped, and then again started on a program only to become frustrated and upset that you have not reached your fitness goal. Consistency will help you get there.

Plan your program to be consistent. If in the beginning you can only workout two times each week, then workout just two times each week, but maintain the consistency. When you start missing individual workouts, it becomes easier to begin missing weekly workouts which then leads to monthly workouts, soon you are not exercising anymore and you have reverted back to your old self.

If you need to, follow this plan.

Week 1 – Workout once per week
Week 2 – Workout twice per week
Week 3 – Workout three times per week
Week 4 – Workout four times per week
Week 5 – Maintain

This program should help you ease into a consistent workout pattern.

This blog was contributed by Speedy Sneakers Walking and Running Clubs for women. Speedy Sneakers is committed to promoting women’s health and fitness through walking and running programs.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cold Weather Workout Tips

Just because it is cold outside does not mean we have to stop working out. In the colder states we need to be a little more creative to get through the dark cold months.

Here are five workout tips you can try this winter.

1. Mall Walking. Early morning, or later in the evening on weekdays are great for getting a warm walk in. If you are not running around at 4:00 minutes/mile pace, mall security will not mind you walking.

2. Cross Train. Winter provides the perfect opportunity to do some additional cross training at your local gym, such as lifting weights and swimming. Both provide the opportunity to workout different muscles groups that you may not have done while walking or running in the summer.

3. Jump Rope. Get a jump rope from your local fitness store, they are inexpensive and provide a solid workout. Jump rope for 5 minutes to start and you will feel like you had just run 5 miles!

4. Indoor Cycling. If you have an indoor bike, use it. So many people have indoor equipment do not use it. This is a waste, as time passes the machine will breakdown and ultimately become useless. Try cycling for 30-minutes.

5. Core Conditioning. Wake up each morning and workout your various abdominal muscles. Core conditioning is essential for maintaining torso strength for walking and running.

As always in cold weather, maintain adequate hydration, dress in layers.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Stretching is Key

Whether you are a walker or runner of any type, stretching is an essential yet often overlooked part of the training workout. Simply just stretching may not be enough if it is not done correctly.

For every workout there are two parts to stretching, the pre-workout and post-workout stretch.

The pre-workout stretch gets the muscles ready for the workout by allowing blood to flow into the muscles and the increasing flexibility of the muscles which will be used during the activity. This allows you to get into the workout quicker.

The post-workout stretch will help move out of the muscles any lactic acid that will have accumulated in the muscles during the workout. This will allow for a quicker recovery and alleviate some of the soreness that you could experience from the exertion placed on the muscles during the workout.

If you are an older athlete, 30 years and older it becomes even more important to incorporate stretching into your workout routine as all the benefits of having young stretchy muscles starts declining. Stretching will help avoid some of the little injuries that can occur in older athletes that younger athletes take for granted.

Stretching Images

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Essential Water

I wanted to add to Peter's thoughts on fluid intake. Many people ask, "How much water should I drink?" The standard response is 8 -10 cups of water a day. The average adult loses about 10 cups of water a day through perspiration, urination, bowel movements and breathing. However, if you are an active individual you will tend to lose more water.

Most of us substitute and say things like, "Well I had coffee this morning, it has water in it." Yes it does but it also has caffeine. Caffeine actually contributes to dehydration by removing water from the body. So, if you are active try to consume fluids that have no caffeine or if you do don't count that as your fluid intake for the day. I know most of us like our cup of Java in the morning but try to replace that with water once you are awake!

What about sports drinks? They do contain electrolytes essential for muscle function, but be careful of the high sugar content contained in the drinks. One of our graduate students found that athletes that consumed sports drink ad libitum during practice were actually more dehydrated following practice than those that consumed just water.

In the end what does this mean: carry water with you and sip/drink it throughout the day. Don't rely on high sugar, caffeinated drinks to quench your thirst.

Happy drinking!

The Need for Vitamins

The question always comes up about the need to take additional supplements in the form of vitamins. We have to realize two things when considering taking vitamins, be it a multi-vitamin or a specific vitamin such as C, or B.

The first is that vitamins are expensive, and secondly, do you really need to take them?

Let me answer the second thought first. When trying to decide whether or not you need to take vitamins take a look at your pantry and refrigerator. Are you eating quality food? Does you refrigerator look like a flower shop, green, red and orange vegetables and fruits? Do you eat whole grain breads? Drink milk and water? Simply are you eating well enough to not need to take in additional supplements? Supplements are meant to replace what you do not have. If you can get it in your food, no need for vitamins.

Lastly, be careful not to flush good money down the drain buying vitamins and vitamin drinks when you could be planning good meals for yourself and your family, thereby saving money and increasing the quality of your lives.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Keeping it Simple

I was once at a sales conference where the presenter had ten slides he showed to kickoff his presentation. These ten slides provided the tone for the rest of the presentation and had everyone listening very closely.

Each slide was a copy of a few very well known money magazines. Each had an incredible headline, “top 10 stocks”, “the other top 10 stocks”, “get out of these 10stocks”. The slides went on and it became apparent that if you had read these ten magazines you would have been confused and not anymore educated than before you began reading.

So are other magazines any different, such as health and fitness magazines? The answer is yes, absolutely. If this is true, what are you to do? Just be careful about taking to heart all the information, there is just too much and it does conflict. For the most part the information contained in the magazines is valid and good, however if you were to take all the advice you would be constantly changing your workouts, diet, buying all kinds of new gadgets and just simply getting yourself into a state of utter madness.

Read all magazines for education, pick out just a few things you would like to try and give it time to work if it is what you want to do. Speak to trainers or coaches about what you have read and see if they agree with it. Any good coach will ask some probing questions before giving advice.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Why be physically healthy?

It is a New Year, new goals to eat better, get in shape and stick to that plan!! So why is it so important to be physically healthy? Do we do it to look good? Yes perhaps, but the older you get the more you begin to realize that health is perhaps a little more important than looks!

One reason to be physically healthy is that it contributes to your mental, emotional and spiritual health. When you exercise there are basic physiological changes that occur in the body which help with mood states. For instance, it is known that exercise can decrease the incidence of those blue days that we all seem to have. This in turn improves your emotional state and allows you to have a more positive outlook on life.

So as this week begins, commit to making your exercise goals, even if they are baby steps at first!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Most Important Meal

Have you ever wondered where the name “Breakfast” came from? I have not formally researched this, but the explanation provided to me seems plausible and rational based on why it remains the most important meal of the day.

Breakfast is simply made up of two words, “Break” the “Fast”. As an example, when our last meal of the day is 6:00 pm in the evening, and we wake up at 6:00 am, that first meal breaks the fast we have gone through of some 12-hours.

Our bodies though in a state of rest has not eaten or had something to drink for half the day. It is imperative to performing well within the next few hours that we have something to eat and drink.

A good meal can start with a bowl of cereal. Cereals are simple to make and sit well with the stomach; they make perfect meals if you are running late. I personally prefer a meal with a little more substance after my morning workout. This is a double dose, no eating for 12-hours and then a light workout, my body needs food and water.

As a last suggestion, if you eat light in the morning, try to take a piece of fruit or a shake with you to work for that mid-morning snack. Your body needs the right amount of fuel in the right quantities throughout the day in order to ensure maximum performance.

By Speedy Sneakers Walking and Running Clubs for women

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Year’s Resolution: Support a Great Mission

In 2008 Speedy Sneakers Walking and Running Clubs for women will be supporting the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition in the mission to fight cancer. Anybody that has ever had somebody die from cancer can attest that this is a fight; in fact it is a war. Cancer is a devastating enemy that many times takes lives way too early. The fight is ongoing and relentless to find a cure.

The Ovarian Cancer Coalition mission is “To raise awareness and promote education about ovarian cancer. The Coalition is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer”.

Speedy Sneakers mission in promoting health and fitness in women through walking and running programs also believes that we should live up to our mission by supporting grassroots organizations that are on the front line in the battle to improve the lives of women.

As a man, I am profoundly appreciative of the role that women play in our society, from their role in the workplace to their role at home, women are a precious treasure.

As you make New Years resolutions I hope that you resolve to contribute to society by considering supporting your local or even the national organization of the NOCC. You can find more information about NOCC on their website.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Back to Work

For most of the country, it is time to get back to work after a few weeks of parties and celebrations and no doubt there probably was a little more eating than normal that took place. As in my previous blog post, I spoke about taking time off. Now is the time to refocus and get back to working out. Delaying any further will just make getting back harder and harder and ultimately you may not even see a little sweat until April. Get back on track now.

Here are some tips for getting back without the strain:

Start off slowly
After a few weeks of doing mostly nothing, do not rush out the door and try to get 8 miles done. Start off with 2 miles if need be. Slowly build up your distance by adding 10-15% each week until you hit that 8 mile mark again (if that is where you left off). Gradually and slowly ensures success.

Keep a daily log
If you did not get one as a stocking stuffer, get an inexpensive log book to keep track of you progress. Keeping track ensures that you do not miss too many days between workouts without feeling guilty. Felling guilty is good if you need that kick in the pants.

Get others involved
Call a few friends and get them to the gym with you, make it a date and stick to it. The best motivator in the cold months up in the north is to have others workout with you. All can be a great encourager and motivator to each other.

Set your goals
This is the time of the year, where I hope you can look back at last year in order to look forward to set new goals for the coming year. If you are new to working out, then set a goal of maintaining the program.

Be thankful
Lastly, always be thankful to live in a great country where you have access to areas to workout. Not everyone in this world can run in a safe neighborhood, or workout in a spacious gym.

Good luck for the coming year, I look forward to hearing about the goals and achievements you have made throughout the year.