With bathing suit season here I know I’m not the only one that wants to look half decent in my bathing suit. Yes I eat healthy and I run. I hit the gym and cross train plus I throw in the occasional yoga class. This helps my overall health and fitness and you have to lay the ground work.
I found a way that works for me to focus on my abs every day. I spend 15 minutes before bed on my ab routine. I vary the exercises and sets but still ensure I work the top and lower abdominal muscles plus my obliques. Since 15 minutes isn’t a huge commitment, I’ve been able to maintain consistency and 15 minutes of non-cardio exercises doesn’t get you sweaty so it really can be the last thing you do before bed.
An example workout would be:
2 x 25 traditional crunches, 2 x 25 twists (with or without a medicine ball), 2 x 25 leg raises, and 3 x 25 second hold planks.
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?
I went to a boot camp exercise class this past weekend with a friend of mine and it made me reminisce of the classes that I used to teach while I was employed as a personal trainer. The instructor was very good. He used a circuit approach and the exercises were pretty basic, but you could vary your effort based on your level of fitness and comfort with the particular exercise so it was really for all types of people. Most of the exercises were done individually but a small few were done with a partner which kept it motivating.
This class reminded me of how simple it is to exercise and get in shape! Please don’t confuse simple with easy though because they really are different concepts. The exercises didn’t require and equipment other than your own body, although you could add weights if you wanted the extra boost. The group class was great and certainly helps those of us who need a little extra help in holding ourselves accountable or those who prefer the camaraderie. However, all of these exercises you could do at home your own motivation and a little bit of space so you don’t hit anything.
The exercises are timed and you did each more for one full minute (pacing yourself!) and you rested a minute before you went on to the next one. This gets your heart rate up just a little and works your large muscle groups. I would suggest you alternate between upper and lower body moves so you can finish the workout…alternatively you could do all the same body area if you are a glutton for punishment.
Simple ideas include: lunges, planks, sit ups, push ups, 6 inches, bicycles, jump squats, jumping jacks
I’m sure you can think of more…
We all know that we’re supposed to stretch. We have good intentions but maybe we’re not sure what to do or how to do it. Is it before I exercise or after? How long should I do it for? And our work out is done and over and we’re off to the next thing on the list. I know, I’m guilty of it to. But we need to remember that flexibility is a key part of our fitness health so we should make a concise effort to do it. The cold winter is especially a good time to focus on this because our muscles are colder and need a little more help warming up, plus it’s good exercise that we can easily do inside and in front of the TV.
So how do I increase my flexibility? I stretch before and after I exercise and I do it differently because they serve two different goals.
Before I exercise I prefer to do a more active stretch. The goal here is to warm your muscles in preparation for your workout. This could be jumping jax which raise your heart rate and stretches your extremities. You can do some pick ups (short sprints), or lunges.
After I exercise I do a more traditional stretch routine. The goal here is to stretch your muscles to gain flexibility because your body is already warmed up and loose. I make sure I cover the major muscle groups, especially my legs, and focus on my quads and hamstrings. In order to get the maximum benefit, I hold each stretch for AT LEAST 40 seconds and repeat the stretches on each side 2-3 times.
What do you do to increase your flexibility?
Although it hasn’t gotten down into bitter cold temperatures (around here anyway) it’s still cold enough to keep a good portion of us inside. While you may be comfortable in the temperature controlled gym on the treadmill that is helping you keep your pace you’re missing the brisk energizing winter air.
I know it’s not the optimal running conditions but a nice run or walk in the cold air can break up the monotony of the gym in the winter and if you can bear that initial chest pain you will find yourself invigorated.
Make sure you have all the proper cold weather gear and don’t forget reflective clothing if your workouts have out there in the dark. Make sure you’re in a safe place and run against traffic so you can see what’s coming at you. Cover your ears and your hands to keep warm too!
Even a quick mile run or walk will make a difference. Try it!
I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since I’ve posted last and what a crazy 3 months it’s been. I’ve run my second marathon since then and enjoyed my holiday season to the fullest without feeling the least bit guilty. I feel I’ve earned it!
But the difference between this year and the last few is that I continued to run over the holiday season. In previous years I told myself that i can take 3 months off after you run such a big race. While that may be true…3 months usually turns into 6 and by March I could feel the pain and burn as I tried to get back into in with a 5K.
This year…this year I continued to run. I certainly wasn’t putting in 15 mile long runs – far from it! But I squeezed in 1 mile here, 3 miles there, some strength training, and a round or two on my heavy bag. I did anything to keep moving and I feel great! Yes I put on just a little bit of holiday / post-marathon weight but it’s very little and I don’t feel out of shape. Spring running season will be that much easier when the weather gets warmer. Plus the beach body is built in the winter.
So this is what the “off-season” feels like. It’s very different from a total veg season! My point of recapping my holiday season running is that you just need to get out there and move. Do something. Your New Year’s resolutions are great, but start small. You can always build as you go. The more incremental progress you make the more rewarding the experience will be and the more likely you are to stick with your new healthy habits.
The cold weather is coming. We can already feel it. It’s not at the point that it stings our chest yet, but it’s difficult to know what to wear if we’re exercising outside of the controlled confines of the gym. Dressing appropriately during this fall season can be challenging because you just don’t know what Mother Nature will throw at you, but with the right gear we can make our workouts more comfortable and maybe make it easier to get in that extra mile.
There are all kinds of material out there now – heat gear, cold gear, etc. So what do you choose? Pick what’s appropriate for the weather but know that you’ll get warmer when you start exercising. This is the reason I dress in layers. If it’s a short run, I may just go with long sleeves because I know I won’t be out there too long. If I’m going to do more than 5 miles, I wear a short and a long sleeve top. This way when I warm up I can take the top laver off and then put it back on when I’m finished so you don’t get the chills as you start to cool down. For bottoms, you can’t really do the layering trick. So if you’re undecided, go with capris. They keep your larger leg muscles warm but still give you some breathing room.
What about rain? This one is tough because the air may not be as cold but it’s damp. I will put a hat on to keep the rain off my face for starters. You also want to have layers on here too, but don’t overdress just because it’s raining. Dress for the air temperature and make sure your top layer is wet resistant but not suffocating. You can always take it off and tie it around your waist.
Do you have any ideas or suggestions for fall exercise gear? If so please share them! Happy Training!
Cold, flu, and allergies – oh my! It’s that time of year and you can see it around you already. People are sniffling, coughing, sneezing all over. Being healthy and exercising is supposed to make you less likely to contract all these ills, right? Well, not necessarily.
Exercising regularly definitely makes us healthier individuals overall and therefore gives us more protection against diseases and other common sicknesses. Then why do many of us in training always get sick this time of year? I found the answer surprising but it made perfect sense.
Runner’s World published and article last year (about 2 weeks late in my circumstance) that hit the nail on the head. It stated that long distance runners – and other endurance athletes – were more susceptible to getting the cold or the flu after a long run. The reason was because the longer runs depleted the body of nutrients and made it more vulnerable to germs in the few days immediately following the run. The body was tired and less capable of fighting off infection and therefore these runners got sick.
My plan? With 8 weeks to go until my marathon and my ever-increasing distance training I’ve been more diligent about what I touch around me and washing my hands more. I’m taking my multivitamin and also started Echinacea which is said to support immune health. I’m also going to bed earlier, especially the few days after a long run.
Hopefully these preventive measures I’m taking now will prevent a repeat of the 3 week chest cold that I had trouble shaking from last year. Happy & Healthy Training!
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.
As my mileage is steadily increasing in preparation for the marathon I need to remember to practice what I preach – that is to stretch.
I’m running more days of the week and I’m out there longer. I’ve also added interval training back into the routine to maximize my muscle capacity. What I realized that I need to pay more attention is my flexibility and more specifically, my hamstrings. I didn’t come up with this on my own – my body told me and it decided to tell me halfway through my Tuesday night run. You’re body has this amazing ability to get your attention and if you ignore it, it will only scream louder until you listen. So, my hamstrings are pretty sore and my calves are a little tight too now that I think about it.
The best way to gain the most from your stretching is actually after your workout when your muscles are already warmed up. Yes, I know – you need to stretch before you workout but that’s more of a warm up and doesn’t do much for your overall flexibility.
You need to focus on your major muscle groups for the most part. Your quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings are all importing but don’t forget about your back – those are core muscles there too! Most of know the basic stretches: lean against a wall with your feet flat give you a pretty good calf stretch, touching your toes is good for hamstrings, and holding your ankle behind you really gets the front of your thigh (Quad). However, to get the maximum benefit, make sure you’re holding the stretch for at least 30-40 seconds and two times each alternating sides. Anything less than that is not going to give you the flexibility needed to keep injury and soreness at bay.