Saturday, February 27, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Overall I was very pleased with the doubleDRY performance and the shorts, tops, and pants all get a 5 RunnerDudes rating! Add the affordability on top of the great performance and Champion running clothes are a great deal!
Monday, February 22, 2010
RD: I know you're an avid runner, but tell us a little more about yourself.
RD: Man, Gina, you are one busy lady! I'm surprised you have time to fit in your running. When did you take up running?
RD: After 53 years, what got you into running?
RD: What about running do you enjoy the most?
RD: One of the things I talk about a lot on the blog is food and fueling the body for your runs. What are some of your favorite running/training foods?
RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with others?
RD: Many of the blog readers know, I've had some interesting encounters and funny things happen to me on my runs. What's the funniest/most interesting thing that's happened to you while on a run?
RD: Man, Gina. You do have one strong will and some kind of determination. I'm thinking we need to nickname you The Gina-nator!
RD: Is there one race distance you prefer over another?
RD: If you were speaking to a group of non-runners or runner wannabes and trying to encourage them to run, what would you say?
RD: Open Mike: Share anything you‘d like about your running experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams….anything you haven’t previously shared.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Now comes the shocker—the calories needed to support your training, stay healthy, and maintain your weight. On average you need about 100 calories per mile. This actually varies depending on how much you weigh. If you weight 120lbs you’ll need about 95cals per mile. It goes up about 15cals for every additional 20lbs of weight. So, a 180-pound individual will need about 140cals per mile.
For ease, lets say the female from earlier weighs 120lbs. The extra calories she’d need on a day she’s running a 6-miler would be 570cals. Her total calorie need for the day would be 2,370cals (1,200 + 600 + 570). This surprises many people, because they’re used to seeing diets that have you eating something crazy like 1,500cals a day. Now remember the 2,370cals is on a day you’re running a 6-miler. If you’re not running you won’t need those additional calories.
Why do you need those calories? Well, think of it as fuel. Let’s say you typically put $40 gas in your car each week. If one week you decide to drive across the country, that $40 of gas isn’t going to get you there. Same thing with calories. Not only do you need those calories for fuel, you need those calories for rebuilding and repairing muscle tissue after your run. In this case less is not more.
Now if you want to lose weight, you can decrease your calorie intake some in order to shed some pounds. Decreasing your calorie intake by 3500 calories in one week (500cals per day) should result in a 1lb weight-loss for that week. I can see the light-bulbs coming on….many of you are saying, “Cool, I’ll just not add those extra 570cals for running and I’ll be good to go.” Problem is, doing that doesn’t account for the calories you’re going to burn on your run. So you’ll end up with a huge calorie deficit and by not adding the extra fuel it’s going to take longer for you to recover from your run.
Nancy Clark (author of Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners, Meyer & Meyer Sport, 2007) recommends that you should first calculate your calorie needs and then target 80% of that total calories in order to safely get the needed calories for daily living and your added exercise and still lose weight.
Here’s an example using the female runner from above.
1,200cals (to support metabolic rate) + 600cals (to support normal daily activity) + 570cals (to support 6-mile run) = 2,370cals (to support this day’s activity while maintaining the athlete’s weight).
80% x 2,370cals = 1,896cals (cals needed to support the daily activity and lose weight).
Many people (athletes or not) complain about feeling hungry throughout the day, especially if they’re trying to lose weight. One way to help avoid this hungry feeling is to try eating more frequently throughout the day. Instead of 3 traditional meals, try having 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day. You’re not going to be eating more calories, but you’ll spread it out over the course of the day. Your body actually burns calories while it’s digesting, so if you feed the fire more frequently, it keeps that engine burning longer.
If it’s easier, to still think of your 3-meals a day, that’s fine. Just make those meals smaller and then add a healthy snack in between those traditional meal times. Also, be sure to eat foods that are going to provide you with energy and have lasting power. Whole grains, nuts, fruits and veggies are great choices. Quaker makes a great oatmeal (Quaker Weight Control Instant Oatmeal) that I eat every morning. The name is a little misleading. The reason it’s “weight control” is because it has more protein than regular instant oatmeal which helps keep you fuller longer. A handful of raw almonds make a great mid-morning snack. Drink a glass or water with them and it will cause the nut fiber to expand helping you to feel fuller. Almonds also help to build your immune system. Lowfat yogurt as a mid afternoon snack is a great choice. Greek yogurt is packed with protein and really does the trick in keeping hunger at bay for me. Just be sure to get the 2% or no-fat variety.
So, it’s a little work, but keep track of your caloric needs, especially if you’re training and doing a lot of running. Your body will thank you and the fruits of your labor will show up in your training and in your renewed energy!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
In order to lose a pound of fat in a week, you need to decrease your calorie intake by 3,500 calories weekly (~500cals a day). This can be done by eating less, but it can also be done by burning more calories. Exercise and watching what you eat go hand-in-hand and this combination is the best way to lose weight. It may not be ultra fast, but it will work.
Now be careful not to fall back into the trap of thinking that running will do all the work for you. Remember, the best way to get a good calorie burn is by doing some type of speed work mixed in with your regular weekly runs. Slow steady running (with no other form of exercise) is going to release that bad old cortisol which can eat away at your own muscle. With less muscle, you’ll burn fewer calories which all allow that fat to creep back on you.
Now initially with regular steady running, you may see some weight loss, but unfortunately a lot of that may be muscle loss not fat loss. Slow steady running and not eating can also cause you to gain weight. Have you ever tried to lose weight by just not eating, but instead of losing weight you gain? Your body needs fat to survive. The protective covering (myelin sheath) around your nerves is actually made of fat. If you suddenly stop eating, your body thinks it’s starving and will go into a self-preservation mode. Normally, if you run out of carbs, your body will turn to fat stores for energy, but if your body feels it is starving it will preserve the fat by using muscle tissue for energy. Your muscles are little calorie-burning engines. If you have less muscle tissue, those engines aren't going to be working as hard and your metabolism slows down. This decrease in caloric burn can actually cause weight gain. Can see a viscous cycle happening? If you’ve ever watched The Biggest Loser, one common thread you hear over and over is that “you have to eat to lose weight.” You can’t just eat anything, but if you’re working out while you’re trying to lose weight, you have to remember that you have to fuel and refuel your muscles before and after a workout.
Resistance training also has an added benefit to weight loss. Studies have shown that once you stop running, the extra calorie burn pretty much stops too. Weight training, however, has shown that the calorie burn actually continues for 9 or more hours after completing the workout. So, you continue to burn more calories even after your workout. Sweet!
All of this information does not mean, “Don’t run.” It simply means, “Don’t just run.” In order to keep you a healthy runner and promote muscle growth and regeneration as well as keep your metabolism ramped up, and main your weight (or even lose some), you need to mix it up with speed work and resistance training.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Have you ever heard a fellow runner say, "I run and run, but I can’t lose weight"? I bet if you dug deeper into their running routine, they’re probably running the same mileage at the same low-intensity pace week after week. Now while this is good aerobic exercise, it could be doing harm to their metabolism and muscle mass.
So what’s a person to do? The solution is really easy and some of you may already be doing it. Just mix up your routine with some speed work and some resistance training.
Speed work doesn’t have to be on a track. You can do speed work by throwing in something called fartleks into a regular run. A fartlek (I know you’re snickering) is nothing more than speeding up and slowing back down to the original pace over and over during a run. Fartleks can be timed (run at regular pace for 2mins and run a fartlek for 30 seconds or a minute or whatever time increments you like). Fartleks can be measured by distance (run at regular pace for 1 mile and run a fartlek for ¼ mile or whatever distance increments you like). Just remember that after the fartlek to pull back to the pre-fartlek pace. Repeat this process several times during a run and you’ve had a good speed workout. Be sure that your fartlek pace is around your 5K race pace. You can also do a more formal speed work by doing interval workouts at a track such a 6 x 400m). Hill workouts and tempo runs are also good to ramp up the intensity. Research has shown that short intense speed workouts burn just as many (if not more) calories as a long slow run and you don’t get the cortisol release.
A non-running activity to add to the mix is resistance training. I know, I know. It seems sacrilegious for a runner to advocate a non aerobic activity, but hear me out. Resistance training is a fancy way of saying weight training. Weight training or resistance training doesn’t have to consist of just dumbbells and barbells. It can be your body weight. Course, sometimes I’ve been called a dumbbell, but I’m sure I’m the exception.
Now, I know many of you still have ruffled feathers over the non-running activity thing, but be assured; I’m not talking about Arnold-building, bicep-bulging, scary-looking, meathead-with-no-neck kinds of workouts. Arnold and those other big boys used something called hypertrophy training. That’s training designed to create those big bulgy muscles. Runners can use something called endurance training.
Endurance training uses lower weight and higher reps. For this type of exercise, you’ll be using less than or equal to 67% of your one rep max. Basically that’s a weight that you can handle for about 12-15 reps. Or, you don’t even have to use any weight other than your body weight. Exercises like squats, lunges, and deadlifts are great resistance training exercises for runners (with or without weights). Upper body exercises are just as important. Ever been on a long run and your arms get fatigued? If you’ve increase their muscular endurance along with your legs, you’re going to delay fatigue much longer than just focusing on the legs. Core exercises are great too and are extremely important in maintaining proper running form which will help fight off fatigue.
Another key to endurance weight training is that there’s very little rest time in between sets (30 seconds). So give it a try. Lighter weights, higher reps, less rest time in between sets. Now endurance resistance training may not officially be an aerobic activity, but I guarantee that it will get your heart rate up and you breathing hard. Give it a try and you’ll see.
Now as an endurance runner, you’re going to do some long slow runs. In fact you’re going to be doing a lot of them, especially if you’re training for a marathon or ultra marathon. So what gives? Well that speedwork and resistance training also have other added benefits. Sprinting and other forms of speed work, causes the body to release human growth hormone factor which has been called nature’s fountain of youth. It helps your body build muscle tissue as well as repair muscle tissue quicker. Resistance training does a similar thing, it also helps to release human growth hormone factor (more in females) as well as testosterone (more in males). Both of these help build and repair muscle tissue. So, mixing-up your weekly routine with some speedwork and some resistance training helps to counteract the bad effects of cortisol released during a long slow run. Not only that, it also makes your weekly workouts much more interesting!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
It's fine to mix it up during your base-building phase with fartleks, tempo runs, hill work etc. But, mainly the mixing-it-up is to help keep it fresh and fun, not for training purposes. In other words, your goal during the base-building phase isn't to kill yourself in each workout. You're just building miles, letting your body get acclimated to the miles and building endurance.
Keep in mind that the average weekly miles of 25-35 for a good base is just that...an average. It's not what you'd necessarily begin with (especially if you're a novice). Your first week of base building mileage may only consist of 15 miles. Just as your marathon training plan has you ramp-it-up throughout your training, your base-building will also increase, not in intensity, however, but in volume.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your weekly mileage increase to no more than 10%. Ramping up the miles too soon can cause injury. Your first week of base building might include 4 days of 3- to 4-milers for a total of 15 miles. The second week, you may keep your "during the week" miles the same, but increase one of the runs by 10%, making that day's run your "long run." Eventually you'll work your way up to running three to four 4- to 8-milers during the week and a long run of 10 miles. Remember these (for the most part) are low intensity miles. Save the intense workouts for when your marathon training kicks in to prevent from peaking too soon.
How many months of base building should you have? Well, again, that will vary from runner to runner. For a first time marathon runner (who is also fairly new to running), 6 months is a good time span for base building. Then the based building will be followed by 4-5 months of training. For a more experienced runner, 5 months of base building is a good goal to shoot for. For the old pro, 4 months is a good goal to shoot for.
One of the biggest mistakes a runner can make in marathon running, is to think the training begins with the 16-20 training plan he/she has downloaded off the Internet. Nothing wrong with the plan, but I can almost guarantee, if you asked the creator of the plan, he/she would say that their plans assume you have a solid base before beginning.
Remember that base-building is your conditioning period. It's your preseason training time. You're prepping your body so that when you start your "real training" you won't put your body into shock.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Okay, I hear the mumbling. You're wanting more specifics. The "Whys?" Well there are a couple of "Whys." Fist of all, it's during this time that you're conditioning your body to being on the road or the trail. Just because you can run a 10-miler at race pace once doesn't mean that your body has adapted to running at that distance or pace. In fact it takes 4-6 weeks of running that 10-miler at that pace for your body to adapt to that distance at that pace. Giving your body this time to adapt as you build your mileage means you're allowing your body to gradually get acclimated to the added stress which will help prevent injury. This doesn't mean that you have to run that same 10-miler for 4-6 weeks straight. What it means is that 4-6 weeks down the road (when you may be running a 18-miler) your body has actually adapted to the 10 miles and now it's in the process of adapting to the higher miles.
Too much too soon is often the cause of many running-related injuries. A good rule of thumb for increasing weekly mileage is to increase it by no more than 10% per week (adding the extra mileage to the longest run first and shortest run last).
Secondly, base building helps your body to actually increase the amount of oxygen in your blood stream which in turn increases the number of mitochondria and capillaries you have. So why is that important? Well, everybody knows that it's important for runners to fuel themselves with carbs. In the body something called glycolysis happens which is the breakdown of carbohydrates (either glycogen that's stored in the muscles or glucose delivered in the blood). The end product of this process is something called pyruvate.
Pyruvate is what's used to resynthesize ATP (the real energy source of the body). If you've depleted your oxygen levels in the blood (or you just don't have good oxygen levels to begin with), your body will convert the pyruvate to lactate. If you haven't incorporated lactate threshold training into your plan and this occurs, then you might experience a burning sensation in the muscles and begin to slow down. Trained runners, however, can actually use the lactate as an energy source, but even that will only last for a short time.
The best method for sustained energy is for the pyruvate to be shuttled into the mitochondria where it will be converted into Acetyl-CoA which then will go through a series of reactions eventually resynthesizing ATP creating energy. This is known as the oxidative system (more specifically the Krebs Cycle). The body can also take fat through the Krebs cycle to produce energy. Actually fat makes a great fuel source because 1 gram of fat produces 9Kcals and 1 gram of carbs only produces 4Kcals. In either case, oxygen is the key factor.
Sounds really complicated, huh? Well, basically if you've fueled well with complex carbs and have good levels of oxygen in your blood, then you're gonna get that energy-making stuff where it needs to go to make more energy so you can keep going. One good way to make sure you have good oxygen levels is by increasing the number of capillaries you have. You do that simply by running more. Your body will take care of the rest.
Have you ever seen a sprinter that's a great marathoner? Probably not. A big part of the reason you don't see that crossover is because sprinters have a lot more Type 2 (force production) muscle. But another reason, is that they use a different energy system. Their bodies aren't concerned with long-term energy needs. They use the phosphagen system which provides quick energy.
So why do distance runners benefit from speed work? Great question. Well speed work helps a distance runner push their lactate threshold levels higher. It helps a distance runner's body learn to deal with lactate when it's produced. The body will more likely know what to do with it and convert it to energy instead of just making you feel sluggish and fatigued. It also just helps the body know what it feels like when/if you need to kick it up a notch during a race. So be sure to add speed work (intervals, hill work, fartleks, etc.) into your "real" training this summer.
Take advantage of these next few months before your "real" marathon training begins to prepare your body for the hard work ahead by working on that base. You'll be glad you did.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Featured Runner: Stan Park
Stan: I will have been married to the same woman for 20 years in May. We met in college (UNC) and are blessed to have 2 daughters—a freshman in high school and a 6th grader. I am a partner in insurance firm—Craft Insurance Center. I run our Employee Benefits department—we help employers manage their health care cost. It has been an interesting time with health reform. I am involved at our church—Westover. Member of Nat Greene Kiwanis (of Neal Leeper fame) past board chair of the Enrichment Fund for Guilford County schools, board member of Reading Connections (adult literacy) and also Spears YMCA and board member of the Better Business Bureau. Like to read, garden and workout.
Stan: Off and on for a while—ran track in high school—but that isn't saying much. Ran some 10K's about 18 years ago. Really serious in the last 20 months.
Stan: It is peaceful—I enjoy the sense of accomplishment, the redemptive feeling of fatigue, the mental challenge that surpasses most any other experience we can have.
RD: I’ve been attacked by Canadian Geese in flight, had to jump over a copperhead snake, been stung in the mouth by a bee and crossed paths with a rabid coyote on my various running adventures. What's the funniest or oddest thing that's happened to you while on a run?
RD: If you were speaking to a group of non-runners or runner wannabes and trying to encourage them to run, what would you say?
Friday, February 12, 2010
Given all of that, it still doesn't help too much when a plan says run 5 miles at an easy pace. Is that 8-minute miles? 9? 10? The fact is, any one of those could be the correct answer. The best way to interpret "easy" and "hard" is to use something called the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale or the RPE scale. The original RPE scale (sometimes called the Borg Scale) used a rating scale of 6-20 (not sure what happened to 1-5). Basically level six was at a resting rate, level 7 was very, very light, 13 was somewhat hard, 15 hard, 19 very, very hard, and 20 maximum effort.
A more recent version of the RPE scale uses a 0-10 rating system. This one is easier for my brain to handle and when you're running, you really don't won't to be bothered with having to remember an odd rating scale. This newer version goes as follows:
10—VERY, VERY HARD (MAXIMAL)
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
One of the Fresh Air Fund's biggest fund raisers is the NYC Half-Marathon. Last year, Fresh Air Fund-Racers who completed the NYC Half-Marathon raised almost $80,000! Over the past three years as a charity partner for the NYC Half-Marathon, the Fund-Racers have raised more than $300,000!
On March 21st, the Fresh Air Fund-Racers will take to the streets at the2010 NYC Half-Marathon! There's still room if you'd like to participate as a Fresh Air Fund-Racers . Your participation will make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of Fresh Air children! There is limited space for this amazing race as it draws closer. If you would like to run, please register here right away.
If you're not quite ready for a half marathon in March, think about being a host family for a Fresh Air child this summer.
In 2009, The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family program, called Friendly Town, gave close to 5,000 New York City boys and girls, ages six to 18, free summer experiences in the country and the suburbs. Volunteer host families shared their friendship and homes up to two weeks or more in 13 Northeastern states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. The Fresh Air Fund relies on donations to provide memorable summers to NYC children. The Fresh Air Fund needs hosts for the summer of 2010. More than 65% of all Fresh Air children are reinvited to stay with their host family, year after year.
Thanks to host families who open up their homes for a few weeks each summer, children growing up in New York City’s toughest neighborhoods have experienced the joys of Fresh Air experiences.
Friendly Town host families are volunteers who live in the suburbs or small town communities. Host families range in size, ethnicity and background, but share the desire to open their hearts and homes to give city children an experience they will never forget. Hosts say the Fresh Air experience is as enriching for their own families, as it is for the inner-city children. There are no financial requirements for hosting a child. Volunteers may request the age-group and gender of the Fresh Air youngster they would like to host. Stories about real Fresh Air host families and their New York City visitors are just a click away!
Click here to learn more about becoming a host or call (800) 367-0003!
To get a better idea of just how effective the Fresh Air Fund can be, check out Brandon's story.
Monday, February 8, 2010
RD: When did you start running?
RD: Open Mike: Share anything you‘d like about your running experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams….anything you haven’t previously shared.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
This time, instead of pulling my shoes apart and using the heat-vent method, I slipped in the Stuffitts. The research on the Stuffitts' website says that about 60% of the moisture will be absorbed in about an hour. So, I checked after an hour and while I can't be scientifically positive that 60% of the moisture was gone, I can report that I was amazed at how dry they were! My run was about 7:00AM and they were already pretty dry by 9:00AM! By the time I went to bed, they were dry! Plus they smelled good!
How much does all of this cost? The initial purchase of a pair of Stuffitts is $24.95. About what you'd pay for a pair of athletic shoe insoles. A pair of replacement bags is $9.95. Not too bad, especially if it'll extend the life of your shoes!
Note: Although, Stuffitts contacted me and sent me a free pair of Stuffitts to try out, I was not paid to do a review nor was I encouraged to write a positive review. My review is strictly a report on my experience using Stuffitts Shoe Savers.
Friday, February 5, 2010
So, this post is dedicated to the maker of the bracelet—Endorphin Warrior. Endorphin Warrior's aim is to delight and inspire you—the lifetime athlete, runner, walker, endurance athlete or fitness enthusiast—with content and original products that express the joy and value of working out, endurance training and the body in motion. They're passionate about creating fun, meaningful and exceptional products that will help you enjoy your training even more…inspire you toward your true potential…and help you express the active lifestyle you love and live.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
On February 12, the world will gather to watch top athletes from around the globe compete in the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Athletes from Team USA, who have been training their entire lives will take the stage to represent our country. Anyone who registers on Teamusa.org will have access to the latest info and will receive exclusive updates throughout the games.
During the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the U.S. Olympic Committee invites you to be part of the action! Sign up now to receive exclusive access information, previously available only to the U.S. Olympic delegation.You will receive the following insider information during the Games and beyond:
- Daily Report (via e-mail) of the latest sports performances and athletes to look out for in the coming days during the Games
- Mobile text alerts, including updated medal tallies during Vancouver 2010 and invitations to the USOC retail store located at the USA House in Vancouver
- The latest on Team USA hopefuls as they strive for Vancouver, London and beyond
Victory in Vancouver is a state-by-state, hometown-by-hometown effort to help the U.S. athletes who are our fellow Americans and neighbors achieve their dreams of winning top honors at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada!
It's been almost 80 years since Team USA won the most gold medals at the Olympic Winter Games, and they're ready to do it again. Your gift today can bring the United States to Victory in Vancouver! Be a part of this historic bid for Olympic glory with your gift to the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Receive a Team USA fleece jacket FREE with a donation of $20 or more. For America's Olympic and Paralympic Teams, the Olympic and Paralympic Games don't take place every four years — they're every day! When you give to Team USA, you help all of our athletes: Olympic and Paralympic. They use your support to get ready for the world's most intense competition.
Monday, February 1, 2010
We all have our limitations, but if you focus on those limitations instead of the possibilities, then you'll never get out the door. After being laid-up for a month after a surgery several years ago, I could have easily hung up the ole running shoes. But instead, I decided to train for a marathon. Training was slow going and my race time was far from a PR, but it is one of the most memorable races (Country Music Marathon '03) I have ever or will ever run. I've been hooked on country music ever since!
You can buy the most expensive running shoes on the market, you can hire the best running coaches and personal trainers around, you can purchase fancy state-of-the-art gym equipment, or join the most expensive fitness center, but if your head ain't in the game, it will be all for naught. Somehow, someway, you have to dig down deep and find the will, drive, and determination it's going to take to commit to that running or fitness program. Sure, surround yourself with positive and motivating people, but don't depend on them for your motivation. You should be your own biggest motivator.
Thanks again to RunningCompanyShoes for providing such an awesome prize. If you haven't already, please be sure to check out their website. Their unique setup will save you a lot on your running shoes! I saved so much that I bought 2 pairs of my favorite shoes!
Be on the look out for details on the next RunnerDude's Blog contest coming soon that's sponsored by Champion USA!