February Challenge – Push Ups

Our February Push Up Challenge kicks off on Monday, February 2nd.

Push ups are the supreme exercise for building a strong upper body and core which in turn helps in your day to day activities such as picking up groceries, a screaming toddler at Target or dragging boxes of Christmas decorations from the shed.

Runners will welcome a stronger core and golfers will appreciate a better swing.  And if you are a walker or hiker, you’ll will have better posture.   I could go on and on about the benefits of building your upper body but why not take the challenge and see for yourself?

images cat pushupAnd if you’re wondering if this is right for you, I promise it is.  Whether you are just starting on your fitness journey or a seasoned Tough Mudder.

 

Check back on Monday for a push up primer and your first workout.  You’ve got this.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

PS –

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Eat More F’s and V’s

downloadI love fresh fruits and veggies but if I’m hungry and noshy spending time to cut up an apple or carrot into sticks seems like such a hassle.  I want a snack now!   And before the comments come flooding in, I don’t like baby carrots or stuff that’s already been cut.  They just don’t taste the same to me.  And protein like chicken or yogurt doesn’t always fit the bill, I’m looking for crunch, like potato chips without the gazillion calories and fat.

So I was having coffee with a friend last week (If my friend Lisa is reading this right now, her jaw just dropped because as long as she’s known me, I don’t “do” coffee) and we were discussing running, training, healthy eating, etc.  and she shared what she does for snacks and it was one of those “why aren’t I doing that moment”.   Every day she cuts up a big batch of fruits and veggies and leaves them in a bowl to snack on all day.   Yep.  That’s it.

Duh!  So simple yet so smart!   To get extra bang for your fruit or veggie buck (because let’s be honest, sometimes an apple is NOT what you feel like eating) here are some creative ways to jazz up your fruit or veggie-based snacks.

Dip your cut up veggies into hummus, salsa, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt mixed with ranch dressing mix.

Cut up apples and pears are yummy dipped into a golfball size blob of peanut butter or a small dish of Greek yogurt with cinnamon or a drizzle of honey.  Kiwi (my new favorite fruit) are tasty mixed with blackberries and topped with vanilla yogurt or with a squeeze of orange juice and sprinkled with slivered nuts.  And mandarin orange slices are out of this world eaten with a small piece of dark chocolate.

Delish!  But I know what you’re thinking.

 “Keli, I am very BUSY, I don’t have time to do all of this prep work!”  Ok, I hear you.  But if I told you that it took about 3 minutes to cut up a batch of veggies, toss them in a bowl with a smidge of water and stick them in the fridge would you try it?

“Keli, apples get brown if they’re cut”.  Agreed.  But try tossing them with a squeeze of lemon and dust with cinnamon.  They are so good this way and no browning.

 Spending a few minutes a day to ensure that you’re grabbing healthy snacks is well worth the investment.  And if you are having a hard time giving up the processed snacks start by pairing chips or crackers with some fruit or veggies.

A recent study showed that 6 baby carrots paired with 6 cheetos was as satisfying to subjects as just cheetos alone.  Something to think about.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

Become an A.M. Person

Study after study shows that morning exercisers tend to stick with their routines on a more consistent basis than those who exercise in the afternoon or evening.  If for no other reason than there haven’t been any work, home or family crises yet.  (yes, the plural for “crisis” is “crises” for those who are wondering).

I realize that many people work out quite consistently later in the day, thank you very much.  And for years I would be at my desk by 6:00 am, out of the office by 1:45 pm and I’d head straight to the gym.  It worked for my schedule and I would say that I was very consistent.

But, if you are struggling with getting in a workout after work, during your lunch break or after school drop offs but before preschool pick ups you may want to evaluate your schedule and try and fit in that early morning run or class.

It does require a shift in bedtime schedules and the ability to roll out of bed without thinking.  But if you get in the habit of taking care of business first thing, I am confident that you will succeed.

And the brilliant part is you don’t have to do it every day.  Plan to get up early 2 days during the week (say Monday and Wednesday) and then take the weekend to get out when the sun is up and you have more time.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

vivofit Review

Activity trackers are the new “it” fitness gadget.  In simplest terms it’s a fancy pedometer.

A few year’s ago Nike was the first out of the shoot with a pod that fit into a carved out hole under the insole of your shoe.  It paired, I believe, with an iPod or iPhone.  Next Nike came out with the fuel band.  I didn’t see those for long.

In the past year or so, new products came on the market and viola, activity trackers started to trend upward.  These bands measured sleep, steps and general activity with the idea that by providing these user-friendly items would motivate users to reach for and hit the “holy grail” of activity benchmarks; 10,000 steps.

10,000 steps translates to around 5 miles.  Bear in mind, that’s a rough estimate.  From studies I’ve read, the average American takes between 2,000 and 3, 000 steps.  This is not good.

I have been a hold out on buying one of these items because I’m a pretty active person and figured I was getting at least 10,000 steps each day.  However, I wanted to test out the product because a lot of people were buying them and I was starting to get questions about them; would the be helpful to them, were they worth it, did I see value.  So, as a fitness professional and a curious gal by nature I did some research.

Fitbit has a cool tv commercial and I saw more of those products on people so I started there.  Nix.  I didn’t like the little dots indicating at what percentage I was at of my goal.  I have 47 year old eyes and those dots are rough to see, besides, I need numbers.  I also read that its’ battery didn’t hold charge for a very long time and required plugging in.

What I did like about the Fitbit was that it vibrated if you sat on your butt too long.  That is a great feature!  Fitbit does have a model that provides more detailed information at a glance as well as one that clips on to your clothes but I didn’t want to snap something to my shirt and maybe lose it when I went to the bathroom (I’ve dropped enough iPod shuffle clips into the toilet to know my limitations) and the more advanced models of the Fitbit were a bit pricey for my initial investment.

I dismissed Jawbone because I didn’t like the look of it at all.  I’m a visual gal.  Next.

Next, I researched the vivofit by Garmin.  It had touch buttons to move from the various functions such as the time, date, steps walked, distance covered, calories burned, how many steps to your daily goal and it has an angry red bar that will pop up as a small red dash at the top when you’ve been sitting for an hour.  The longer you sit the farther it crawls across the top of the screen.  I call it the “Guilt Bar”.  Nice.   It had a good long battery life and as I’ve discussed a lot – I have a Garmin watch that I covet.  Good company, product I liked already.  Sold.

Well, actually, I gave my specs to Brad and asked him to get it for my for Christmas.

After I opened my present on Christmas morning, (have I mentioned what  a great husband I have?) had another mimosa, I set about getting my vivofit ready.  It was easy to turn on and I synced it to my computer and phone and entered my age, weight, height, activity level and normal sleep time.  I put it on my wrist and watched the steps go by.  What you learn quickly is that it’s not a step for step measurement.  I think its’ technology tracks distance and translates it to steps.

In order to track your data you need to “sync” the product to their site by a little thumb-drive that is more the size of half a chiclet.  You have to “pair” the device one time to activate it then sync daily, every few days or weekly.  I tried for a week to sync my product.  Apparently, the sales department at Garmin didn’t tell the tech department that they sold a boat load of these things over the holidays.  The problem was resolved and I’ve not had problems since.

I strapped on my vivofit Christmas Day and haven’t removed it since.  It is lightweight, doesn’t chafe or burn.  I don’t have a rash from the wristband material and I forget I have it on most of the time.

pd-05-lgAgain, what I was curious most about were the following things:

  1. How much do I really move during the day?
  2. Did I find that this device motivated me to move more?

How much do I really move during the day?

Since December 25th, my average daily number of steps is 19,736.  Apparently I move a lot.

My lowest day was 7.500 steps on Christmas Day and my highest day was 23.300 on December 30th.

Did I find the vivofit motivated me to move more?

Yes.  Not surprisingly most of my daily steps comes from exercise.  My goal has been to add steps on top of my exercises steps.  If I get 10,000 on top of the 5,000 I have from class, that’s a good day.  It doesn’t always work.  I have a dead zone around 4pm where if I don’t move I can sit on the couch for too long.  Seeing the “Guilt Bar” grow makes me think of my butt growing as I sit.  I love a good visual.  So it gets me up, more times than not.

Should you get one?

Yes:  If you are just starting out with your fitness journey; have fitness or weight loss goals; need a shot of motivation to get you moving; are a tracking and report junkie; you sit for 6 or more hours a day.

Maybe Not:  If you are currently active and exercise at least 4-5 days per week, consistently try to find ways to sneak activity (you park farther from the mall, you take the stairs, walk to lunch, walk on lunch), etc.

In a nutshell I’ve outlined some pros and cons of the vivofit.

Pros:  Lightweight band, clear instructions, simple to use and great features for tracking progress.  Syncing online you can find challenges and groups to compete against.  Their website also provides very detailed tracking and reporting info.  Good for motivation.

Cons:  Only tracks movement.  If you stand all day (which burns more calories than sitting) the product does not reflect this and you get the “Guilt Bar”.  This bar can also be annoying if you get up to use the bathroom at 2am and when you wake up at 5am you have the “Guilt Bar” flashing at you.  It also doesn’t reflect exercise as steps or activity where you don’t move from place to place (Yoga, Pilates, Spin class).

Overall, I’m happy with the vivofit and feel that it’s been a valuable tool for me and a quality product.  I have to stop writing now. The “Guilt Bar” is halfway across the screen.

And, in case you’re curious, 7689 steps so far today.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

 

 

 

The 4-Run-Run

In my mind, I officially became a runner back in December, 2000 when I signed up with Team in Training.  From that season and the ones that followed, I learned about training, pacing, what to eat, drink and how to plan for, prepare for, and run a race.  I also learned some race and running etiquette.  This baseline training gave me the confidence to keep running, no matter my speed.

This training also taught me the importance of being a good “steward of the sport” and the peccadilloes that come along with training, preparing for, and competing in races.  (I use “competing” loosely because I’ve only placed in one race EVER and that was in the old-lady 44-50 category and there were only 4 of us.)  But you get my drift.

What I find lacking in my community is a good primer for runners who want to start running, as in, get off the couch and move their body, or take their running to another level and actually toe up to a starting line.  Lots of questions come with each decision and then there’s the group that needs to stay motivated without ever wanting to do a race.

Today on my run, my brain looped on this concept and I’ve thought of some things that I think are important for people to know.

Starting Out

Yay you!  You are ready to start running!  Here’s what I tell all of my new runner friends.

1.  Get thee to a Running Shoe store.  Not Big 5, Sports Authority or ambling the aisles at Costco.  Go in, tell the shoe expert at the Running Shoe store you are a new runner and need running shoes.  Let them fit you, watch you walk or run around and then (this is important) tell them if they are too small, too wide, hurt or pinch.  If they feel comfortable, cough up $100 or more and buy them.

2.  Plan.  Schedule 3 days that you are going to run.  Aim to be gone for 20 to 30 minutes.  Note:  you are not going to be running for the full 20-30 minutes. Yet.  You are going to walk 5 minutes to start.  Then you will cycle through the following intervals 4 times:  run 30 – 60 seconds, walk 3 minutes.  Cool down with a 5 minute walk.  Your “run” should be at a pace that is comfortable for you to talk.  If you can’t breath, slow down.  If you can only manage 5 seconds of running at first, not a problem.  Run those 5 seconds, walk 3 minutes, repeat.

3.  Slow and steady will win the race.   Evaluate yourself in 2 weeks and see if you can start increasing the running intervals by 30 seconds.  If not, stay the course and check back in another week.  This, grasshopper, is patience. If you are not a ‘runner’ expect running to be hard.  Even miserable.  Do not let this stop you.   I PROMISE if you stick with a consistent training plan you will soon develop a habit that will be hard to break.

4.  Educate yourself.  Go visit your new BFF’s at the Running Shoe store or drop in to a Race Expo (they are free and open to anyone) and talk to shoe people, race people, pace people, etc.  Learn about running, read up about running to get educated and be inspired.  I read Runner’s World religiously because it has a mix of hard-core stuff I could never imagine doing and simpler things that I can incorporate into training or diet.

Races

Yay you!  You are ready to sign up for your very first race.  I could write pages on training for a race but I will keep it very simple.

1.  Pick a distance with a training plan that you can manage.  If you want to run a marathon (or have been roped into doing one with a very convincing and clever friend) you need to allow for at least 16 to 20 weeks for training with at least 4 runs per week to start, working to 5 or even 6.  Mileage each week will climb heavily and a plan that I favor will max me out at 44 miles per week.  And that’s a beginner’s plan.  See what I am getting at?  If you aren’t disciplined enough to manage a long plan, start with a shorter race.  5K’s are a great starting distance as are 10K’s.  However – do not let distance scare you.  If you have your heart set on a marathon for charity or because you want to run under the Eiffel Tower go for it – but plan for it.

2.  Preparation is king!  If you are scheduled for a 10 mile long run on a Saturday morning, it’s in your best interest to eat some carbs, a bit of protein and drink water the night before.  It’s also advised to eat a breakfast that includes carbs (but nothing too fiber-filled), and again drink water.  This is not the time to try a no-carb diet or restrict your food intake to lose a few pounds.  The night before a long run is not the time to go wine tasting or do a few shots at the bar with friends.  Sure, you can run if you are hungover or hungry but it’s not fun.

3.  On race day there are a few things you should try and do to be a good racer.

a.  Stick with your pace corral.  Racers are assigned starting times (known as corrals) based on the time the runner tells the race he or she expects to finish.  A 10K racer who can knock out the 6.25 miles in 45 minutes will be at the front while those who can manage to cross the finish line by noon are in the back.   Proper race etiquette is that you stay where assigned so you are neither holding up faster runners or having to dart around walkers.  I make this mistake almost every time because I often try and fit in one final potty break before the gun goes off leaving me in Corral 15 when I am supposed to be in 7.

b.  Slower runners/walkers on the right, passing on the left.  And if you have to stop running or drop from running to walking asap – move over to the right as quickly as you can.

c.  Keep some room across the aisle.  No judgement because I love to see people of all abilities on a course but walkers are more likely to take up the road with 5 or more people across.  This is great for chatting but makes it a pain if we have to dart around them.

d.  Keys that jingle jangle, change in your pockets and spitting.  All should be banned from any races.  Ok – I’ll ease up on the spitting.  But if you must spit, do it when you are SURE there is no one to your left or right or directly behind you.

e.  Thank anyone who hands you water, cheers for you along the course, throws an orange slice in your direction or otherwise is there for the sole purpose to entertain, smile, feed or provide drinks for you.  And when that person drapes your neck with a medal, a space blanket and bends over to cut the timing chip off your shoe, give them a huge smile and try not to throw up on them.

General Rules – by Keli 

1. Be joyful!  Running is supposed to be a fun thing.  The wind in your hair, moving freely through the streets.  It’s a good thing.  If you are cranky or miserable during or after your runs you are doing something wrong.  I see a gal running a few days a week that looks like she’s eating horseradish.  Miserable!  I thought it was because she was wearing those silly Vibram shoes but she’s back to wearing regular running shoes and still looks angry.  “Girlfriend”, I want to scream, “try yoga”.

2.  If you run, you’re a runner.  If you run fast, you’re a runner, if you run slow, you’re a runner.  If you run in races you’re a runner and if you run to stay sane and have no intention of ever doing a race, you’re a runner.  There’s no such thing as a jogger.

3.  Encourage your friends to come with you.  People freak out about pace. Or distance.  If you ask your friends to run you’ll hear “I just started”, “I’m not that fast”, “I only run 2 miles”, etc.  etc.  etc.  I like to invite people to go running and let them do their thing.  We can run together or if they are wicked fast I’ll tell them to go ahead.  Running friends are very good, loyal and entertaining people.  Everyone should have a few.

4.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was a runner.  Run today, run in 2 days, run 2 days after that.  Repeat.

5.  Stretch yourself.  We runners pick running as our #1 activity because you can do it anywhere, anytime, anyplace.  But we often go for a run, come home, shower, eat, and go about our day.  Running shortens muscles with the constant pounding which can lead to tight muscles and even injuries.  Take a few minutes after each run to stretch your quads, hamstrings, hips, glutes and calf muscles.  While you’re at it, drop into a plank for 30 – 60 seconds to develop a good strong core.

6.  Only runners think running is interesting.  My husband is a huge supporter of my running.  But I can see his eyes glaze over if I start to get too deep about training, etc.  It’s the same look I get when he starts talking about the back 9.  “Did you have fun?”  I ask.  “Yes”  he replies.  “Great, help me set the table”.   I don’t care enough about golf to care what he shot at the 17th tee.

Take from this what you need, throw the rest away.  But please feel free to share this information with your runner friends.  But only if they run because if they don’t, well, they don’t care.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

PS – if you need more information or help planning for and training for an upcoming event please let me know!

 

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

If you are an outdoor runner, odds are you have to run early in the morning or late in the day.  Running in the dark can be a bit scary at first but if you prepare and are aware, you can get out and back safely. images night

Here are a few of my tips for safe running at night or in the early morning hours.

Wheels Always Win

Use crosswalks, make eye contact when crossing in front of vehicles, be aware of cyclists screaming down the hill behind you and most importantly, let anything with a wheel have the right of way.

Light it Up

I am amazed, AMAZED at the number of people who run in the early morning and late evening hours that wear dark colors head to toe and do not carry a light or have a stitch of reflective gear on them.  At the MINIMUM, please grab a small flashlight.  If you are running against traffic turn the beam to face cars and if you are running with traffic (this is important) let the light shine behind you.  That’s right.   Turn that beam so it’s behind you and cars, bikes and those crazy fast moms pushing jogging strollers will see you.

Creepy People

Every now and then I’ll run one of my normal weekday loops and I’ll see some creepy-looking person walking down the dark part of the street.  I have no desire to show Stranger A that I’m some super brave chick so I just cross the street and then turn my head back a few times.   I do this for 2 reasons, 1) to make sure they know that I know that they’re there and 2) so if they start chasing me I have time to react.  Crazy thoughts go through my head when I run alone.

Check your Volume

I love loud banging music like the next person but when I’m running in the dark I tend to keep the volume low so I can hear if anything is going on.  Dogs or other animals charging or Creepy People (see above) trying to get me.

The Wild Side

This one I didn’t even think about until I ran into a coyote that I swear to God started to follow me.  I live in an area near a ton of open space so people often see deer, skunks, racoons, bobcats, coyotes and even a mountain lion (if you believe the comments on NextDoor) that come down from the hills.   I’m not saying you need to stop running outside but be aware that you could face something furry on a dark run and you should know what to do.  In my case, I turned and shouted “HAAAAA” about 10 times and then ran to the maintenance person cleaning the bathroom at the Civic Center lagoon.  Who, I am not embarrassed to say, laughed at me.  Whatever.

Needless to say I have given that loop a break for a few weeks.  Better safe than sorry, I always say.

Good luck with your running and be safe out there.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

 

 

All Hail the Hill

I love incorporating hills into my workouts.  In hill running you use body weight as a resistance to push against, so you develop serious leg power and your cardiovascular system becomes improved.

In a nutshell, hill training provides the following benefits:

  • it helps develop power and muscle elasticity (the elasticity results from the bouncy effect of going up the hill)
  • it develops coordination
  • it develops control and stabilization as well as improved speed (downhill running)
  • it promotes strength endurance
  • it develops maximum speed and strength
  • it improves lactate tolerance when you use medium or longer hills for repeats

I like to mix up my hill training by picking a running route that I know will add a mix of shorter, steeper sections and longer sections I like to call a “grind”.  A “grind” is where you slowly wind your way up a long hill, not necessarily steep, but you definitely have to work your way to the top.
If you are not comfortable with incorporating multiple hills in your daily walk or run you can get the same benefit with one lone hill.  I’m sure there’s one hill in your neighborhood that would work.   Walk or do a warm up run to  get to the base and start by running or walking briskly up the hill.  At the top turn and jog or walk back down.  Repeat this 3 or 4 times.  Here are some form tips:

  1. keep your eyes looking at a spot in front of you about 2 feet ( do not look straight down or at the top of the hill)
  2. keep your shoulders, head and neck relaxed
  3. run lightly on the front half of your feet, think “bouncy”
  4. do not bound up the hill with large strides, take smaller steps as you power with your arms – think of yourself “pitter-pattering” up the hill
  5.  if you are having trouble catching your breathe, slow down and take big, even breaths

Hill repeats are NOT supposed to be easy but don’t let the discomfort stop you from continuing.

The only way you get better and stronger is to keep doing them.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂