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?

Keep it simple

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…

Happy Training!

Flexibility in the Winter

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?

New Year

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.

Happy Training!

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?