Frequency over Duration

I have to admit it’s been difficult keeping up with a steady post schedule. My son has entered school age and between homework, his sports schedule and my own training and race schedule I am utterly exhausted after lunches are packed and we’re ready for the next day!!! And I know I’m not alone in the daily battle to keep up and there are plenty of parents doing the same as me with more than one child.

Where you will see the difference is between those moms and dads who keep up with daily life demands and still manage to get a workout or a run in on top of everything on a regular basis. It’s hard enough to make sure you’re eating right, avoiding the drive through but to spend hours at the gym? That’s a big commitment.

What’s the trick? The answer is it depends on you and what your goals are.

I know a mom with four kids who gets up really early to hit the gym and is home by the time the kids are up. I have a friend who runs after work and goes to a weekly cross fit class. There is another ‘soccer mom’ I know that gets her running in just on Saturday mornings. You have to find something that works for you and your schedule but doesn’t hurt your family time.

So the easiest way that works for me is I have a ‘Frequency over Duration’ mantra. I can’t always go for a long Sunday morning run but if I have 15 minutes I run or ride my bike for 15 minutes. If my son is at practice I can sneak in some interval training. I can do my abs for a few minutes before I get into bed if I didn’t get to the gym that day.

Don’t ever thing that a few extra minutes isn’t enough time because a few extra minutes every day can make a big difference at the end of the week. And what would those 15 minutes add up to at the end of the month? The end of next month?

Does anyone else do this? How to you maximize your exercise time?

Journey to Philly – 9 weeks to go

I’m now in real marathon training mode. Not that I wasn’t before because I registered back in April and I’ve been running and competing all spring and summer and it all counts for something. At least that what I’ve been telling myself but now its fall and it’s time to get serious.

Training for a marathon is very different from training for any other competition. Now, every step toward your goal – whether it’s to run a 5K or a half marathon or any other fitness accomplishment – takes committment, time, patience, and guts. But what I’ve found is that the marathon takes all those but to the next level. I never imagined in my entire life I would be able to say that I ran a marathon. Yes, I ran 26.2 miles and it took me 4 hours and 45 minutes to do it. And in a little less than 9 weeks I’m going to do it again.

Preparation is the take home point for training for a marathon. You need to be prepared to run that far and for that long. But each competition requires some preparation and it depends on your experience and personal choices as to what you will need.

The two most importing things you need for competition and for general fitness:
– You need to be properly hydrated. It really hurts when you haven’t taken in enough fluids and you start to cramp. the key is to drink before you are thirsty and then keep drinking. water is best prior to running…save the low cal sports drink until you’re done.
– Proper footwear that is supportive. you’re sneaks from last spring probably don’t have the support you really need if you’re running. My knees will tell me if I need new shoes!

After you’re satisfied those two items the rest is easy! Comfy clothes and a good playlist (if you’re a music person) will keep you going for whatever distance you set out for.

Happy Training!

A re-committment to goals

OK, so if you’re anything like me you probably slacked off a little bit on your fitness goals during the summer. It was hot, it was humid, vacation got in the way, we had parties to go to, etc. But we had fun, enjoyed ourselves, and experienced summer!

Now that summer has unofficially ended and we’re getting back into the routine of school and work, the weather will be cooling off so it’s the perfect time to recommit to our fitness goals.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been less that loyal to yourself – just restate what you want. Write it down if you have to, tell a buddy and hold yourself accountable. During the next few weeks work toward that goal a little bit at a time and you’ll get there!

My personal goal is to run my 2nd marathon this year and I have about 10 weeks left to accomplish it. I’ve been running, but my mileage is not where it needs to be and I’ve been “treating” myself to boardwalk food. BUT I will begin adding miles each week to build up to where I need to be so I’m prepared for the big 26.2 in November…a little bit at a time. Starting now.

What’s your goal? How will you accomplish it?

External Motivation

Need a little push actually committing to your exercise goals? If you’re struggling to find the drive from inside then try looking around you for motivation. Is your family a source of motivation? Can your spouse or children create a sense of drive in you or maybe even a cause that you feel strongly about or a charity that you believe in? What about a favorite picture of you…

The point is that we all loose drive at one point or another and we need a little push from the outside that we can’t seem to muster in our own minds and hearts. And it doesn’t all have to come from one place! In reality it’s probably more of a mixture of internal drive and external forces that push us to get up off the couch and go to the gym or go for a walk or run a marathon.

A perfect example that I can relate to happened to me this past weekend. I was about to begin the first leg of a triathlon and was really nervous because I hadn’t trained as much as I wanted to because my vacation was a little over a week prior. I was not prepared. I knew it but it hadn’t really sunk in until they called for my age group to enter the water. My motivation…I was there for myself for many reasons but only I have to answer to me. Easy to excuse myself, right? I was also there as part of a charity team called Ryan’s Quest (www.ryansquest.org) – a wonderful organization dedicated to fighting Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Not so easy to excuse yourself now because you’re there for a higher purpose.

So make your next run count for more than just great health. You’ll reap more than the physical benefits and have a greater positive impact.

Buddy Power

I think we’ve all heard somewhere along the way that working out with a partner increases the chance that you will stick with workout on days when you’re not feeling up the challenge. The is 100% true! When you have someone or a group that you regularly run, workout, bike, or walk with, you are less likely to miss a sweat session. They don’t even have to be with you during your workout…they can be a virtual buddy or someone to ‘check in’ with.

I mentioned before that I have a running group and we will do a few miles after work once a week just about every week. We only miss for extenuating circumstances because we know not only do we get a good workout in for ourselves, we motivate each other to keep going. On the weekends or other evenings when we’re not running together, we always check in with each other to see how we’re progressing. One person is in training for a Marathon, another is working toward 5K’s, and another is just there to keep in shape. Regardless of our individual goals, the group mentality is extremely positive and motivating.

I think…wait – I know there would have been a few nights or early Saturday mornings that I would have never made it out to the park had it not been for a running buddy. There is power in numbers and the buddy system is a powerful tool to keep me and the rest of my group motivated.

Do you use the buddy system? How does it motivate you?

Strong Mind – Strong Breath

I have to admit it…it was a tough run out there tonight. Our normal Tuesday night 5 miler wasn’t as crowded. A handful of ‘regulars’ back out tonight and I don’t believe it was because they were coming off of a holiday weekend either. We were three ladies strong but we even had our tough spots.

The hot, humid, dead air tonight was more reminiscent of July and August rather than May so our bodies aren’t quite used to it. We haven’t built up that tolerance yet and the Canal path kicked our butts. But we pushed on despite the obstacles nature threw at us and finished our run. We finished it because of one main factor. No it’s not our training or just because it’s Tuesday night routine or because of a race plan that we’ve held ourselves to…all of those things absolutely help you stay on track. But it’s because of a strong mind that you can overcome the discomfort that running sometimes brings.

When you’re getting to the point when you’re in the middle of your workout (whatever it is) and you think that you can’t go any further or you’re struggling to finish, you need to reach inside – beyond any physical capabilities you may have – and mentally tell yourself to keep going.

Some runners have mantras. My coach always said “loose lips, loose legs”. I’ve heard some other pretty good ones over the years too. I personally focus inward and concentrate on my breathing. This has always had the biggest positive effect on me because I am able to block out all other external factors when I focus on my breathing…in through the nose and out through the mouth, nice and steady. It’s amazing how when I get my breathing under control I can calm the rest of me down, focus on my form that may have gone out of whack due to fatigue, ignore what everyone else is doing around me, and even ignore mother nature (to the best extent possible). Calming your mind and focusing on your breathing also allows your body to get the oxygen to where it needs it most. Some of us forget to breath when we’re exercising! They we get tight and crampy and then we get cranky and sometimes stop.

My mind and my breathing got me through my workout tonight and allowed me to finish the 5 miles I set out to do. Strong mind & Strong Breath.

One month to go!

It’s just under one month until Daylight Savings Time. Do you know what that means? Spring is almost here and the unofficial running season begins!

Of course running doesn’t have an official season. Plenty of us are consistently and diligently on our treadmills at home or at the gym all winter long, or just when we get the urge to move off of the couch. I personally despise the treadmill. Yes, I’m a runner who hates the treadmill and will do anything to avoid it. If I’m forced to get my cardio workout indoors you will find me on the elliptical, maybe the bike, definitely in the pool, but very rarely on the treadmill. I will run outside, albeit lower mileage, as long as it’s not so cold that it hurts to breathe…and even then sometimes I will brave it if it’s not windy.

So, this is why I personally get excited for Daylight Savings Time. There’s more light at the end of my workday that I can actually get some decent running in during the week. And with the daylight comes the warmth, or at least the progression toward warmth. I don’t have to cram my cardio in at the gym and hope that there’s a good movie playing in the cardio room :-). I’m not a morning person so the sunrise run is not for me. If you are one of those people who can manage to perform at those ungodly hours than I tip my hat to you!

The message that I want to convey is that it’s OK if you’re one of the many people who aren’t as motivated to exercise during the cold winter months. Most of us are in that same boat. However, with just a few weeks until the lighter and warmer weather, you may want to start thinking of what you want to do come early to mid March.

Things to consider and prepare yourself:
1 – Look at your sneakers and see if you need a new ones (if your soles look worn it’s time for a new pair)
2 – Spend some time at the gym or at home strengthening your leg and core muscles
3 – Check out your gear and make sure you have comfortable clothing to run in
4 – Determine a location for your first few runs (local track, neighborhood, park trails)

Having a plan and going through a few steps to prepare for your running will help you get motivated, increase your committment to your workouts, and reduce your risk of throwing in the towel after your first time out there.

Happy Training!