How To Run And Not Compete

Many runners run to compete against other runners and others compete against themselves. Often runners get burned out because of too much competition. A little friendly challenge with fellow runners or yourself can be a great motivator; however, when your motivation needs a boost, try skipping on the competition.

If your goal is to be a runner for life, you will go through several stages during your running career. There will be building periods, stages of regression, days where you feel like you could run forever, and days where it hurts to lace up your shoes.

Cutting out competition is a great way to refresh your running mindset during the times when you feel a lack of motivation. Try to mix up the way you think about running and you can keep running as a way of life, not a way of strife. Here are a few suggestions for how to run and not compete.

1. Skip a race – Or two, or however many it takes. If you feel stressed about making PRs or maintaining a “status” among your running peers, step away from the arena for a while.

2. No timing – Go for a run but don’t try to squeeze X number of miles into X amount of time. Remember, you want to be a runner for life. Go enjoy and savor your ability to run free. Putting requirements takes away from the freedom.

3. Quit comparing – Don’t compare every run to your PR, or to your running buddy’s PR. Every run is different, respect that. Your body changes, respect that. You have a right to slow down, speed, up and slow down again. You may experience several changes in the way you run. That is what makes it a career and that is what makes runners love running. Cherish it and respect it.

When you can come to peace with the your abilities you will find more motivation toward your goals. Running may be a simple action but does require a great deal of effort. When you decide to be a runner for life, you accept the challenge of knowing when to cut back on competition. -pm

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Personal Training

runoutsideThere are enough runs, rides, and walks to keep you booked every weekend. They are a great way to stay motivated, socialize, and the entry fee money usually benefits a worthy cause. What about when you have crossed the finish line and just want to have a run for fun? Many athletes reach a point where they just want to train for the love of the sport, not for a competition.

Many people don’t understand why anybody would want to run a marathon. A lot of miles go into preparing for such event. It can be ever harder to get people to understand why a runner would want to get up before daybreak and take a long run without being “in training” for an event. Lots of people partake in fitness for the sole purpose of keeping fit and the exercise relationship stops there. There is nothing wrong with that one bit. However, certain people find a special connection with their sport. Some explain it as a spiritual part of their life, a type of meditation.

While some athletes train and race constantly, others lose some of the racing romance. This is ok – it doesn’t mean that a runner is no longer a runner or that if you aren’t racing then there is no point in training. In fact some believe that avoiding hard core races can be a healthier choice. Covert Bailey , author of Smart Exercise recommends that the best way to avoid overtraining is to never actually run in a marathon, but training for one is just fine he suggests with a tongue in cheek tone.

The most important thing to realize is that if you are fortunate enough to find a sport that you can connect with, then keep doing it for the personal satisfaction involved. Forget feeling that if you do not compete you will be lesser a runner, biker, swimmer, boxer – whatever! Remember why you began the sport. Think about the feeling you get from moving your body and appreciate the fact that you can move. If you aren’t enjoying the crowded races, or pushing yourself really hard is no longer your idea of a good time, take some time out from organized events. There is certainly nothing wrong with a little personal training once and awhile. -pm

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Race Postponed?!

startlineRemember Melinda…the Surprise weight loss picture and article? She’s really into running and calls me occasionally for running tips. It really flatters me that somebody wants my fitness advice so I always make an effort to get back to her in a timely manner.

She called me the day before her half-marathon, but not because she was nervous – she was a tad ticked off. The weather forecast was calling for snowy conditions and the race had been postponed one week. “What do I do?!” she wondered.

If your race get’s pushed out don’t panic. One week difference won’t hurt you. If it’s much more than that you’ll still be fine – you just need to adjust a bit. The nervous tension (and agression you have because your training got jerked around) can be laid out on the road. My suggestion for running is to run light and easy, enough to let out some pent up energy. Don’t do a race, store up the energy and don’t risk the energy.

Forget about timing these training runs but instead just focus on keeping limber and pumped up for the real run. As the week moves closer try lower impact exercises like the EFX (elliptical) just to maintain. Continue to taper like it was the former week and keep a positive focus.

If your race got pushed out more than a week, try to go back to the same point from your training schedule and follow the miles and taper. However, if the race is too far out you might be better off to sign up for another one to avoid over-training. Good Luck!!! -pm

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Focus on Fitness

sunrunFocus helps us move toward our goals. Fitness being an important part of many peoples’ lives, I wonder what helps different people maintain a focus? Many athletes have a race or performance that helps them maintain a focus. Visualization is a big tactic for athletes and anyone focusing on a particular goal. What about if you don’t compete? What helps you keep your focus?

Some people are compelled to keep their cholesterol and blood pressure low so that is a valuable motivator for them. Of course there is the battle of the bulge that keeps many people on track. Many people are compelled to keep their bodies functional – bend over and tie shoes, vacuum, mow the lawn, till the garden – and that drives them to keep care of their bodies.  All of these are good reasons, but is there more? If you don’t garden or your vitals are all in check do you just forgo fitness? Do you take for granted that it will always be easy to ties your shoes or run out to the mailbox?

Simple tasks in life are dependent on how well we care for our bodies. If we don’t keep them conditioned then over time the simple things we do, may not be so simple. Many people think that because they don’t have any desire to run a marathon then they don’t need to get any exercise.   The truth is that we all need to exercise our bodies so we may carry out the live that we work so hard to enjoy.  Finding a focus that propels us toward our fitness goals is helpful. It helps keep us on track.

Share what helps you put a focus on fitness. More than one motivator never hurts. -pm



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5 Tips to Get Back On The Workout Saddle

runoutside1It can happen to anybody and it is ok! Oprah admitted to falling off the workout wagon. Many people experience a break in their workout routine and more than once.  Some are just short breaks and others are months on end of little to no physical activity.  Stop making excuses and get back into a routine.  Here’s a few tips to get you going.

1. Quit Cold Turkey – with the excuses.  The time that you put into thinking about why you stopped working out, you could be out walking.

2. Dust off the log – if you had a workout log/journal then get it back out. Reviewing your accomplishments will remind you of the great achievements you gained.  Start a brand new one and be loyal to jotting a few quick notes about your fitness and use it to keep you committed.

3. Keep your focus – when you have a goal do what you have to do to get it. Stick up inspirational pictures and quotes that push and keep you on track.

4. Shut out the noise – negative suggestions come from everywhere.  You, friends, family, even strangers and negative suggestions are not always intended.  Be bull-headed towards getting your goal and ignore the donut pushers and the workout time stealers.

5. Accept the truth – remember that you are human. Life gets busy and sometimes we make poor choices.  Move on! Don’t dwell on why you messed up, just move forward. Get the workout routine back on track because it’s important to be healty. 

Get your body in condition so you can play outside or bend over to simply tie your shoes! Fitness is for everyone – the thin, the thick, and the in between.  It is not about obtaining a body that is too muscle maxed or super skinny mini, but having a fit, functional figure. -pm

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Alternate Workout

efxIt’s good to have a back up workout plan for a few reasons.  You might get rained out of your run, the elliptical trainer might be occupied, or you just might feel like a change when the alarm goes off.  Allowing yourself the freedom to do something different will keep you motivated and let you feel in control of working out.  Our brains and bodies get tired of the same ol’ routine. Even if you love your daily runs, a simple change in route or mileage can stimulate your mind and body. When your mind gets tired the body will follow-yes that right our brain controls the energy flow to the body more than we realize.  If you can snap your brain out of boredom your body will follow the excitement.

A little bit of variety will keep you motivated and challenge different muscles.  Have a few workouts that you can do to switch up the norm.  Have a few fitness DVDs that you can fall back on, use a different machine or use them all by doing circuits.  There’s plenty of that you can do to stick to your fitness routine, it might involve a little creativity but it will certainly be worth the effort. -pm

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Show Me Love

rockandwaterMany people do things to show love and respect for their significant other. Helping with chores, errands, work are nice ways to show that you care. Wearing a certain outfit or cologne that appeals to them has a double benefit for you and your partner. How about the way you care for your health?

Many people think that when they are taking time to fit in a workout or schedule a doctors appointment that they are being selfish. Contrary, the exact opposite is true. The people that love and care for you want you to look and feel your best. If you neglect basic health management then you are actually sending the message that they are not a priority. Think back when your mom or dad had the flu when you were a kid. Didn’t it seem like the universe was out of whack? SuperParents don’t get sick! It wasn’t fun to see your parents out of commission and it was even worse when they wouldn’t stop to get the rest that they needed. If they would just slow down and rest up then they would get better faster and life would be better for everyone. It’s not that they were intentionally trying to perpetuate the situation; they most likely felt they were doing the right thing by not taking time for their own well being. If you said to your ill parent, “hey please rest”, and they refused, did you feel like your feelings were discounted?

Don’t discount the people that care about you. Care for them, respect yourself and manage your health. You will manage the rest of your life better when you feel better. -pm


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Running Advice

running-shoesHow close  together can I put two half marathons?
-Melinda K.

Racing frequency varies for each runner.  The more experience you have with running and racing, the more familiar you will be with your body’s energy level and recovery rate.  Take your goals into consideration.  Are you wanting to PR (personal record) or just finish?  How challenging are the courses? Other things to think about are your current weekly mileage and race history.  If you are running around 20 miles a week and never ran a half marathon, I would not suggest that you schedule your second race until you see how you recover.  However if you are well rested and experienced you could schedule them within a week of one another-nothing that you would want to do on a regular basis.

Again, each runner is different.  If you are really wanting to run an event but are unsure if you should push yourself then you have the option to go easy and make it a training run.  Don’t bolt out there and hurt yourself if you aren’t ready. If you are smart about adjusting your weekly mileage, use cross-training exercises, and eat well then you are probably safe to one every six weeks.

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Tricks of the Train

If you are training for a race then you are probably doing one of your intense workouts today or tomorrow.  The weather is pretty cold in most of the US.  Extreme conditions really test your dedication to your sport.  They can also take a toll on your body if you aren’t careful.  It’s important to stay hydrated even in the cold.  Wear proper attire when dealing with the elements.  Don’t neglect the little things during training because they can make a big difference to your performance on race day.  

 Peak Performance’s online site gives some good suggestions to help with your cold weather commitments. They are listed below.

Cold weather coping tips
* Don’t reduce your fluid consumption. It’s true that sweating rates are lower in the cold than in the heat, but cold weather exercise can still be dehydrating. For one thing, water is lost from the respiratory system at an augmented rate on chilly days, and exposure to cold air can also increase urine production. Since feelings of thirst are diminished in cool air, the end result can be a dehydrated state which damages your performance and makes it harder to stay warm. The solution? Take in a glass of fluid immediately before a wintry workout and sip hot beverages immediately afterwards. Additionally, drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day.

* Do consume extra carbohydrate. Cold exposure increases the rate at which muscles use up their carbohydrate stores, so glycogen depletion can become a problem. Winter also increases fat oxidation, but extra dietary fat is unnecessary. Even very lean athletes usually have enough fat stored in their bodies to support an increased utilisation of fat for fuel.

* Don’t overeat. Amplifying the fat under your skin offers no special advantages. It’s true that a fat person will feel more comfortable than a skinny individual when both are standing still in cold air, but the situation is reversed during exercise. Lean people can usually exercise more intensely than heftier folk and can therefore generate more internal heat. If your goal is to stay warm while exercising, being fit is definitely better than being fat! The exception to this rule is swimming, where a bit of suet under the skin prevents heat from being lost too rapidly to the water.

* If you are a runner, use at least two different pairs of running shoes. The running-shoe companies are very happy with this tip, which arises from the fact that winter’s slushy conditions often leave running-shoe midsoles saturated with moisture. Wet midsoles absorb shock less well than dry soles, so leave water-logged shoes to dry out for 48 hours and use your second pair for the next day’s run.

* Wear adaptable clothes during runs. Clothes with zippers are great, because you can open them up if you get too hot midway through a workout. Unzipping garments also gets rid of excess moisture which builds up as you move around. In general, wear enough clothing to stay warm as you exercise but not so much that you begin to sweat heavily. On the other hand, be prepared for the possibility of chilling: wear a sweatshirt with a hood which can be pulled up over your head if needed, and keep a spare item of clothing tied around your waist or at a pick-up point midway through your training session.

* During extremely cold weather, find sheltered exercise locations which are at least partly out of the wind. This will allow you to exercise more efficiently and reduce your risk of getting excessively cold. -Owen Anderson


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The Experimental Runner

Advice for today: do what you want, however you want – just don’t be mad about what you get! However, don’t let the possibility of an unanticipated outcome prevent you from experimenting. Running every day might not work for you but if you don’t try you won’t know. If it doesn’t work for you to run every day that doesn’t mean your body wants you to quit all together. It might be telling you that it wants less running more lifting. If accidents didn’t happen nothing would.

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