Thursday, May 31, 2012

RW Summer Running Streak 2012

If you need a little motivation, its not too  late to join Runner World's Summer Running Streak!  From Memorial Day to Independence Day (a mere 38 days) promise yourself that you will run just 1 mile every day.  Doesn't have to a be a speedy/hard mile, but it does have to be running.

For 38 days, can you get out there?  I am sure going to try...and if it goes well these next few days, I plan to up the ante...stay tuned for details!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Too hard on myself? Or, not hard enough?

So, I've come to realize that my motivation is quite fickle.  Its not really a bad thing, but something I know that I need to dig deep for.  When I first started running, I had to suffer through getting to that 5k distance alone, like everyone else.  But, once I was up to a solid 4-5 miles, I could join others and partake in the group was so easy to push myself to keep up and go a little farther.  This is positive peer pressure!  But looking back, running alone was so hard to stay motivated, even mid run.  I'm right back there again...and trust me, its not easier this time around.

I think what hit me the hardest is the fact that the weather changed dramatically since my IT injury.  It occurred a mere 2 months, in quite normal "spring" weather (for Florida).  I've been trying to find motivation and determination these last 3 weeks, and I am completely demoralized!  However, this week I finally realized that the weather is completely different....its truly summer here.  And that is a HUGE difference to a runner who lives in Florida.

My approach, therefore, is quite different.  First of all, I was trying to run too fast when I returned after my hiatus.  Running a 10 min/mile pace is fine in Spring...but in Summer, that is a dreadful mistake for me.  I should be aiming for 11 min/mile pace right now.  Sure, I'm not there yet, but it will happen.

My self pity of not being able to run a mile straight without the desire to stop....well, again, most likely related to the weather.  I started bringing water with me again....something I have not had to do since September!  And even for short runs of 2 miles, water is needed.  Seems like every 4-5 minutes, I take a sip and then also splash some on my face/neck and it keeps me from wanting to walk.

As for the difference, I didn't run for 6 of course, I shouldn't expect to be able to run a 5k non-stop the first day out.  Yeah, I was running 10 miles at a stretch, but I also need to remember that I am a new runner...and I need to build back up slowly.  Sure, if I was running for 10 years and had to take 6 weeks off, this would have been a completely different story.

So, things have changed since I really ran.  Hot, humid, need water, shorter distances and slower.  I need to accept that, and find smart ways to slowly change that.  The last few days, I've awoken early (hard for me!) and ran outside.  These have been short 2ish mile runs...but done in an effort to better acclimatize me to the hot humid weather here.  Also, since I had no fuel with me when I ran these, I will not expect faster times....need to remind myself of this.  That being said, I've been ok with my 11:00+ pace.  Its ridiculously slow, but once I get the distance up, I'm sure that will slowly change.

So, my goal for now is to run daily.  Maybe it will stay at 2 miles or so, but I'm rather hoping that I can get it up to a 5k distance fast.  I really would like to try 5k/day for 50 days now.  I think this is the perfect time for me to give this challenge a go.  So, the moment I hit 5k without stopping, I'm going for it.  Maybe this will kick my butt into gear?  It will certainly encourage me to sleep/rest well, eat nutritiously, and strengthen my muscles.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Words of Wisdom: Alberto Salazar

I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards.
-- Alberto Salazar

That nervousness is doubt...turn it into excitement!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Give-Away Winners: Announced

The "Running with the Mind of Meditation" books go to....drum roll please....

Congratulations!  Please email me your mailing address at, and I'll have this out to you soon!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Weight of the Nation

Fast food, processed food, lack of exercise, lack of funding for physical fitness classes for kids, fear of your child playing outside without parental supervision, government funding of cheaply processed foods...there are a multitude of reasons why the US has an obesity epidemic.  But, we can stop it...we can start in our homes.  We can ensure that our children are insulated from these external factors that negatively influence poor nutrition.  We can also watch this documentary series:

HBO (along with the CDC and a ton of other organizations) put together a 4-part miniseries documentary on the state of the nation, quite literally the weight of the nation.  Watch simply one show episode every night, and see if this doesn't move you into making better decisions!

Fortunately, you do not need to have HBO to access this no excuses!

I highly recommend the series, as just maybe you will find information in here that you can use as a tool to encourage better decision making for yourself and your family.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

FitBit: A Week Later

So, I've been using FitBit for almost a week.  I've found the device very easy to use.  The interface is great if you are looking at one week or one month at a time.  The daily view is very difficult to interpret, but then again, we shouldn't be focused on hour to hour changes...the interface is great if you are watching your progress over weeks or months!

The communication between MyFitnessPal and Fitbit could be quicker, but for the most part, it works.  I think the key is to use MyFitnessPal solely for recording calories.  Do not enter a goal or a food plan into MyFitness Pal, and then completely disregard any  exercise/net/remaining calories.  If you disregard these, then you base all of your data/plans on FitBit, which works fine.

Then again, you need to realize that the online data will always be behind the device that is attached to you.  This is fine if you are sitting at your computer at home, where the wireless connector resides...but if you spend hours in front of a work computer, don't even bother checking FitBit, unless you are reviewing historical information.  It does do a decent job at estimating calorice burn rate, but it could easily be a couple hundred calories off by the afternoon of a work day.

So, have I learned anything this last week?  First and foremost, I now know why I'm always so disappointed with a lack of results when going on a diet.  I'm amazed at how sedentary my life is!  The graph below (from FitBit's site) clearly illustrates my burn versus eaten.  My burn is easily increased when I exercise, but if I don't I'm shocked at how low it is!

A few realities have already set in:
  • During a typical work day, assuming I do NOT do cardio, I burn a mere 1900 calories.
  • During a somewhat busy weekend day, assuming I do NOT do cardio, I burn around 2300 calories.
There are no stairs in Florida.  Its so hot that we rarely spend much time outside unless its between Novemebr and April.  I have a desk job....which means I just don't walk much during the day.  All of these play into those low numbers above.

I suppose I've always understood the concept of in/out calorie-wise, but I presumed that based on my weight, my natural metabolism would burn much more than 1900 during a week day!  Just going out to lunch and having dinner typically puts me over in essence, if I indulged over the weekend as well, I would put weight on every single week.  This was definitely an eye-opener.  I was always so discouraged when I wouldn't lose a pound when I went under 1600 calories.  Well, assuming I only burned 1900/day, I would have to do this for 12 days before losing a single pound...and with the changes in water weight that occur throughout a body, this may not even be seen on a scale for a good three weeks.  Wow....maybe I was delusional to think that I burned more than 2000 calories/day. 

So, the Fitbit has thrown it into my face that I need to be more active....not just for "exercise" sessions, but for every day activities.  I need to take the stairs whenever possible.  I need to walk around work more.  I need to do things that don't require me to sit for extended periods of time.  This is very obvious to me now.

On the other hand, I have worn it while sleeping, and the site assigns a percentage to your sleep efficiency...I had one bad night of sleep, but for the most part, I consistently scored above 95%.  So, at least I know I'm getting a decent amount of sleep and a decent quality of sleep.

I think I always had a good sense of my calorie intake, but its this other side of the equation that I was just assuming that the quick-and-dirty formulas were working for me.  And maybe without this kitchen fire which has forced me to eat out for the last 4 months would never required this type of understanding, but I'm glad I did it!

Our kitchen will not be done for a good 3 weeks, so I definitely plan on wearing this at least until then.  Will update you after another week!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

FitBit Ultra...initial thoughts

I just got this from amazon last night....I've always wanted to check these little things out, so I succumbed.  So far though, I'm intrigued!

What came in the package?  The Fitbit Ultra, a "pager" style holder (not really needed), a synching/charging cable/base, and a soft wristband that holds the fitbit while you sleep.  There is absolutely no paper in the are simply directed to go to Fitbit.  You then download the synching application and create an online account.  Simple.

The application download took forever to install, so I just let it run when I went to bed.  Finished setting up my account in a mere 2 minutes in the morning.

Now, one thing I like about this is that is somewhat syncs with MyFitnessPal.  You log all of your activities at Fitbit, and all your food at MyFitnessPal.  They do not sync instantaneously, but if you are looking for trends or prior-day successes, this is well done.  You should not log activity in MyFitnessPal, nor log food in Fitbit, as its possible that you will double-count calorie intake/burn.

So, I really started using this just before 7am.  Based on my weight, activity level, etc, the online tool estimates your calorie burn and then when you sync your device, its trued up.

Initial surprises:

  • It was easy to attach to the side of my bra right under my upper arm...there is no chance of it slipping and it really is quite small.  I could feel it, but it didn't bother me.  I'll do this if I have form-fitting waist clothing, but its easy enough to put this around the waistband if the clothing is better suited for this.
  • I'm shocked at how little I exert energy while at work.  I know that its a desk job, but I seriously walked less than 1500 steps before leaving work.  I burned a mere 1200 calories before 5pm.  This was an eye opener already.
  • Knowing how little I burned at work made it more necessary for me to exercise tonight...hard NOT to do this!
  • The Fitbit can be viewed at any time to get current day's its more up to date/accurate than the website/mobile application.
  • Its 8pm, and my busiest time (eg most energy used) is definitely in the evening.  My Fitbit currently states 8:20pm, 8909 steps, 4.83 miles, 2042 calories burned, 2 flights of stairs climbed.  This was AFTER 30 minutes on the elliptical, so I already know that if I do not actively exercise during the week, I'm a FOOL thinking that I can maintain my weight during a normal work week.

I'm curious to see how this day compares to my average work day versus an average weekend day over the next few weeks.  What really is "norm" for me?

No Tri for Me

So, I've decided not to do the tri this weekend.  Turns out our house will be in shambles with the remodel starting.  I'm truly excited for this, but they will be there late saturday and then starting right up again on Monday.  While I would love the experience of an introduction to a tri, which is exactly what Danskin offers, I need to be there for the kitchen remodel.  We've simply gone too long without anything, and I deserve it to be perfect and traveling out of town while this is occuring is simply not in my long-term best interest right now.

But, even though I'm not participating, I hope that the comments/training plan that I've outlined has been of interest to others.  If nothing else, maybe you can see yourself doing a tri now.  Its not quite as initimidating as I once maybe next time I'll give it a go!

What, What You Say to Me!

Today, I introduce a guest blogger. Bob Schwartz has authored the book "I Run, Therefore I Am – NUTS! which I know is a subject that we all can relate to!  He has a new book coming out this year, but until thats out, you can certainly enjoy his humor at his new blog called  Running Laughs.  He really does hope that more people than just his wife know that it exists, so check it out!  And now...onto Bob...and an excerpt from his new book below.


One of the differences between running and many other sports is its individualistic nature. How successfully you perform depends on you alone, and how hard you’re willing to go outside of your comfort zone is self-regulated. Our internal voice tells us when to push it harder, and sometimes an undermining voice arises and tells us to go back to sleep when the alarm clock goes off or to cut a run short. My internal voice often employs reverse psychology by appealing to my nuts running gene and asking, “What would a sane person do?”

But now we have other voices coming at us through what we wear on our wrist. Years ago running watches didn’t have much more than a stopwatch function. Want to know how far you went? Get in your car, retrace your route, and track it the old-fashioned odometer way. A little more difficult to measure those narrow single-track trail runs. Eventually, GPS technology emerged and we not only had our distance staring us in the face from our running watch, but our pace as well. But why stop there? We can now get the number of calories burned, elevation chart for our route, and the temperature. We can get our heart rate, mile splits, cadence, and step count. A vibration alarm signals when we’ve gone off pace. Heck, eventually our watches will probably be able to tell us how many more strides before we should re-hydrate or pop an energy gel packet.

 I certainly welcome all the magic that running watches can provide. However, there’s one addition I can do without. Most of us don’t have a reality show with a personal trainer shouting words of encouragement. Nor do we have, on a daily basis, race spectators shouting phrases like “You’re looking good.” But now we can. Sort of. Running watches have come along containing messages that attempt to put us on a pedestal after our runs. The wizards of watch technology offer words of praise like “Atta boy,” or “Job well done,” or “Way to go.” I recognize that some runners enjoy those accolades from their wrist. Personally, I’m leaning toward the opinion that if I need compliments from a chronometer or tributes from my timepiece, well, I may have other issues.

Does any other aspect of my life provide unsolicited words of praise? Heck, no. What’s next? My computer saying, “Nice sentence, Bob! Way to string those humorous metaphors. You da man, Shakespeare!” Or does my car tell me, “That was a heck of a parallel parking job! Nobody does that better than you.” I can’t imagine my stove top saying, “Nice omelet flip there, Chef Incredible! And the coffee this morning smelled divine.”

The last things I’m looking for after a particularly bad run are flattering yet fallacious words, which are about as welcome at that point as learning a course was mismeasured after you’d set a PR. It’s like the queen and her mirror in Snow White:
            “My watch, my watch, on my hand. Who’s the fastest in the land?”
           “You, my runner, are fastest of them all.”
I wouldn’t bet on it.

What I need are the words of legendary coach Bill Bowerman when my alarm clock goes off as a chilly rain pounds on my roof and I contemplate going back to sleep. I could use a bright flashing neon sign plastered across my bedroom ceiling with Bill’s words “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.” And feel free to toss in for good measure “So get your lazy hiney out of bed there you weak little man. Now!” I also could use, in the latter stages of a race, my watch to feed me a double dose of Winston Churchill, such as “Never, never, never give up” and “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” I don’t need pearls of drivel like “Wow, you’ve just gone 20 miles. Amazing! You’re the greatest. The wall may be coming soon. Feel free to jog it in from here or, better yet, just take the sweep bus to the finish.”

Running watches also come with an artificial runner that lays down the gauntlet to challenge us to a race. That’s more like it: a healthy dose of virtual competition. Add in some trash talking and all the better! Let my watch berate me with “Is that all you got, Wonder Boy?” or “Feel free to pick up the pace anytime now.”

What I could also use before a race is to glance down at my watch to see words of wisdom from Steve Prefontaine. Such as “I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.” That’ll get my heart pumping. I don’t need flattering bouquets like “I just love the way your singlet matches your shorts.”

Feel free to give me a watch that will tell me after a run, “That wasn’t good enough, twinkle toes. Better be ready to push it tomorrow!” It was Prefontaine who also said, “You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back.” Or by having your watch do the patting for that matter. Or your computer, car, or stove top.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

RRCA Certified Coach....Yeah Baby Yeah!

RRCA CoachI can now proudly display this logo on my site!  As you may recall, I took the 2-day, 16-hour course back in March.  Later that month, I took the certification exam and scored well over 90%.  In April, I earned by First Aid certification.  And this month, I earned my in-class CPR certification.  Yep, thats right.  All requirements are now complete, with just a few days to spare.

Looking back, I know that I earned this certification just for me.  I love learning facts and understanding concepts, and this is no different when it comes to running.  I have a strong NEED to understand why I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  Just having someone tell me what I need to do simply isn't sufficient.  Then again, I find a lot of confidence from learning the process, and I do hope to share it with others some day.

Sure, I have no interest/time to become a devoted coach to others.  But, I love being available to answer questions, you know?  I love being able to cheer people on and motivate them to do more than they ever thought they could.  Therefore, this certification falls completely in line with this part of my personality.

I hope to share some of this knowledge that I have gained.  Some may be new to you.  Some may be something you've always read and did.  Some may motivate you.  Either way, I hope I can inspire you.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Words of Wisdom: Mark Will-Weber

Running is real and relatively simple…but it ain't easy.
--Mark Will-Weber

So true.  Its such a simple thing that everybody thinks they can do it, so when they decide to become a runner, they often only make it to the end of their block (if that!).  There is a lot more to it than just putting one foot in front of the other.  The mental game to running is quite under-rated!

Sprint Triathlon Training Plan - Week 8

Taper week!  Now, overall effort reduces by 50% ....give your body a chance to recover from any overuse that you have not realized yet, and again this is not the time to risk any injury...your body should be taking it easy now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Give Away: Running with the Mind of Meditation Book!

A new book out....definitely worth a read.  I never realized before how similar meditation and running are!  They both go through similar phases in obtaining a goal.  They both go through a similar mindset when reaching the once-considered-unreachable goal.  Whether you are running marathons or have just started walking for health, this is a good reference book.  There are so many similarities to both this ultra physical activity and the ultra solitude/quiet that is associated with meditation.  And, the face that we ALL know that running is more of a mental sport than a physical sport surely has been experienced by anyone that has run farther than a 5k!  It takes focus to develop and retain that endurance.

a Rafflecopter giveaway As I've said before, the idea of meditation, while insanely simple to comprehend, has always been a bit hard for me to embrace.  While simple in concept, there are a lot of obstacles in the way to attaining the meditative state and as a result, the entire process has intimidated me.  But this book breaks it down into such simple and concrete steps....and even if you do not "meditate" you will come to realize that running in and of itself is a form of meditation (or at least completely the opposite that they actually have a lot in common!).  You are so in touch with your body, every motion that you focus is on the physical...and in doing so, you free your mind of any deep thoughts.  You are focusing on your every movement.  As Sakyong puts it "Movement is good for the body; stillness is good for the mind."  To do one well, you need the other.  That whole ying-yang approach to a sport is so essential.  Think of the way we design a training plan...we have those rest days for a reason other than to rest your bones/muscles.  With the rest days, our strength actually improves!  This is a metabolic fact....muscle strength occurs during the rebuild phase, eg rest days.

Breathing and movement are essential for a well-balanced and healthy life (both physical and mental).  Check it out...or better yet, enter to win your own copy by completing the form above!  Good luck!

Allied Medal Displays...for the kiddies too!

There are a ton of things we buy our kids.  My boy loves his legos, and there is never a lack of legos on his lego table, aka dining room table.  My girl...she loves writing stories and drawing pictures to go along with those stories.  Even given these preferences, there is never a lack of things that they 'want' and the wish list is endless!

Even then, the idea of buying something for my 5 and 6-year old now that will last them into adulthood is rare.  What other single purchase is appropriate at this age as well as 20 years from now? What other item will be appreciated and still be in pristine condition now and then?  What item is durable enough to withstand their constant touching?  These kids have already earned medals from participating on a soccer team as well as a variety of kids races.  Currently, they are hung on their bedposts.  That may be fine for some, but I rather like the idea of displaying them giving them a special place, pride of those medals soon follow.  It should be a symbol of pride to them every day that they look at them.....throughout their childhood.  I want to encourage that.  After all, thats why I wanted one for encourage me to move forward in athletics!

So, no, a medal display is not just for us adults that want to hold our fabulous bling.  I took a lot of care in specifying which display is appropriate for had to be timeless and not sport-specific (who knows what they will be playing in the future!) but also it had to be inspiring!  Some may chose a bible verse, some may chose a simple word such as "BELIEVE" and some may chose their name.  I wanted something inspirational for my kiddies "Always Earned...Never Given")...something that would be appropriate now and in their future to propel them forward, whether it be a sport or an academic decathalon!  Even legos are not as good as this gift.

Oh and yes, my son's 5th birthday was this past week...and he absolutely glowed when he saw it!  He held it up to Mommy's and just beamed with excitement having one so similar to mine!

Allied Medal Displays for the best bling holders around!  Use discount/promotion code CMOTR for a 10% discount (should at least cover your S&H).

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