Charity Running

_MG_8900_finalDoing something good for a charity you care about is great. Training for a charity makes you feel good, and you feel like you are running for a purpose. This helps on those days when your personal motivation may be low. You’ll feel part of a community, and will make some running friends – which is great!

A word of caution: research the charity you are interested in training and fundraising for before you sign up. Some charities use 100% of the fundraising toward that cause, but sadly, many do NOT. If that doesn’t matter to you, don’t pay attention to this blog. 🙂

Personally, I feel far more passionate about fundraising when I know every dollar is going toward that charity’s mission. If you do too, read up on the organization, check reviews, and ask questions. Remember, charity wants your money, and so they may not be completely forthcoming about their numbers.

Burned Vs. Consumed

_MG_9291_finalIn our own delusional world, we’ll say an hour at the gym equals the ability to eat whatever we want for the rest of the day and we’ll end up calorically at zero. Ah, our foolish delusions. If you are still clinging onto those delusions, your coach is going to give you a reality check.

Folks, as I have mentioned before, gym equipment lie about your calories burned. Ignore that lovely, delusional number and know your own stats and calories burned. Refueling (also a previous blog topic) is important, but refuel with a purpose: to replenish and aid those muscles.

Personally, when I trained for my first marathon, I gained weight. Why? Well, part of it was a delusional mentality. I wanted to be fueled for my next workout, and had no concept of what was necessary instead of excess. Another reason I gained weight was that my appetite seemed out of control, and I kept feeding the beast. The last reason was my work environment. At the time I was working on the set of “Blue Bloods” full time, and the dreaded Craft Services was a constant temptation for my out-of-control appetite. The long hours, and unpredictable running schedule left me shoveling trail mix, pasta, and bagels into my mouth.

Yes, while training for a marathon you will need to eat more than before you started training. (HOORAY!!!!) However, if you use that as an excuse to eat everything, you will be in the same boat as the gym rat who decides an hour on the elliptical equals indulging on 2000 calories out at the local pub. Folks, it’s a matter of calories consumed versus calories burned.

Here’s a secret: If you love to workout and/or run, and you love food, you get the best of both worlds. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love a juicy cheeseburger with fries and a few pints, or a large piece of cake as much as the next person. I LOVE FOOD. I love to cook. I love to bake. I love to eat. HOWEVER, I have learned since that first marathon season how to fuel, refuel and train without gaining any weight while savoring those indulgences too.

Do you need help balancing your food versus exercise? I’m pretty sure you know a coach who can help.

Lying Machine

_MG_9072_finalIf you have been watching your calories, sweating hard at the gym, and left scratching your head because of little improvements, here’s something to consider: the machines at the gyms are lying.

Cardio equipment make us feel good as we see how many calories we have burned as we sweat away and watch tv at the gym. Here’s the problem: cardio equipment doesn’t give you an accurate count of calories burned. If you are taking the number on the machine as your factual calories burned, I have bad news.

When hopping on cardio equipment, you can enter your age and weight on the machine. Here’s the problem: there are a lot of factors that machine ISN’T asking you. Your sex, hight, body fat, fitness level – those are factors that the machine doesn’t consider. Even the heart rate monitor can be wrong.

Don’t lose faith. You can find tools to more accurately calculate your cardio burn. Remember, knowledge is power. If you don’t know your numbers, you may be consuming more calories than desired. Still confused? Contact your coach or personal trainer.

Weight Loss Rut

Liz Corkum 516We’ve all been there. You’ve gained 10 lbs., or 40 lbs, or whatever – and you freak out and look for the “easy” way to shed those extra pounds. You look into quick solutions, which include diet pills, cleanses, delivery food plans, fad diets, etc. You are miserable on said “easy” diet plan, and within a few weeks gain any weight you lost on your “quick fix” back, and are exactly where you started – only even more frustrated.

Let’s stop that cycle, for once and for all. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, there is no quick fix, and fad diets should be avoided at all cost. Personally, I probably tried a dozen of them (maybe 2 dozen!), and I know first-hand how that cycle can continue.

if you take anything away from this blog, consider this: You need to be honest with yourself about how many calories you need to consume in a day to maintain your current weight, and what would be a healthy amount to consume for weight loss. Most people I know are SHOCKED when they find out how many calories they consume in a day, or what a serving size actually looks like.

For example, as a 5’7″, 20-something athlete, calculating my body fat, BMI, etc – on days I am stationary (not training), I only need 1500-1800 calories per day. PER DAY. Most people eat 1500-1800 calories in ONE MEAL. This is why Americans are so obese.

The good news: the more you exercise, the higher that number of necessary calories.

Know your body, your lifestyle, your needs – and you will begin to have the tools to take control of the scale, your abilities and your body fat.

Reaching

img_6627-editsmallEvery person I know is reaching to be better. A better human being, better at their job, better at their hobbies, better at their sport. This desire to work to the next level and reach to a new achievement is something that drives us.

As someone reaching towards a fitness goal, the goals often change and grow as soon as the previous goal was achieved. Searching for excellence in ourselves makes us want to work harder, and test our personal best.

Whether your goal is to run a 2:30 marathon or to climb a flight of stairs without gasping for air, you need to be realistic about your goals (within reason), so that you don’t injure yourself. However, in order to achieve our best, we often need to push outside of our comfort zone.

Everyone’s goals will be different, and everyone has different naturally abilities and potential. Try to focus on you, and your potential, instead of comparing yourself to the girl at the office, the man at the starting line, or Olympians. You are competing and comparing yourself against yourself from the past. Don’t let anyone else intimidate you or talk you out of your potential and your dreams.

I encourage you to set big goals for yourself, and to find safe, exciting ways to potentially achieve those goals. Life is short, so why not start on that bucket list event or goal now? You are stronger than you think you are. Let’s get you there.

Staying Focused

©DARIO_ACOSTA_PHOTOGRAPHY-22It’s easy to get excited about new fitness goals. However, for most people that enthusiasm dies somewhere down the road. The gym after New Years is packed for 4-6 weeks, and then many resolution exercisers give up, get bored, lose focus, get injured, or face frustration.

Are you one of those people? If you are, you are not alone. Like we say in the marathon community, the marathon is mostly mental. Regardless of your physical goals, your mental focus is going to be trained along with your body.

What will work for you? Sadly, there is no one way we all tick. For me, signing up for races, and setting goals for those races keeps me on track. I know that if I want a chance at my goals in the future, I am going to have to put in the hard work. I also keep running photos of myself enjoying a race, fighting through fatigue, and other visual reminders around my apartment. Writing down my workouts as I complete them on a calendar I made with recent race photos also helps. I am reminded of how much I love my sport, even on those days when I’d rather not train.

Find positive things you can use to motivate yourself. Tell friends and family about your goals, and they can hold you accountable. Find a gym or training buddy. Rely on your coach – after all, part of your coach’s job is to keep you focused and on track.

Gearing Up

DSC_9745Let’s talk about gear. Running, in general is a very cheap exercise choice. All you really need is a good pair of running shoes. However, there are a few other items that can make your running experience better.

Socks: cotton socks cause those nasty, painful blisters. I ran in cotton socks for years, and powered through those painful bubbles on my feet. Investing in some running socks is worth the price. Running socks are expensive compared to the cotton ones, but they will change your running life. Seriously.

Non-cotton clothes: You can go run in those sweats and a tee, and be totally fine. Hell, I used to for years. However, if you are running in summer heat or winter cold, investing in some running clothes will make running far more comfortable. Here’s why: cotton is not designed to wick moisture away, and sweating in winter while wearing cotton will make you cold and clammy. Cotton in summer will make you feel hot and heavy as cotton gets heavy as it holds all of that sweat. Also, cotton can cause chafing. Not fun.

Bodyglide: This miracle, deodorant-looking tube will be the best $7.00 you will spend on running gear. Simply apply the stick on spots where chafing occurs. Sports bra, sleeves, thighs – everyone is different regarding chafing problems and often what you wear (cotton is not good) can factor.

Running watch: While this gadget is not necessary, especially for novice runners, it’s a tool I personally never run without. Here’s why: data gathered gives you an honest assessment of how every workout went, where improvements occur, and more. Even though I always have my watch on my wrist, there are many workouts when I don’t look at it while on the run. Recovery runs, for example, I go by feel.

Other helpful gear: Running cap (great for sunny and hot days!), winter gear, running sun glasses (you can find them at race expos for $20.00!).

Fad Diets

img_6239-editLadies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls – I am going to tell you the truth, which you probably already know but are still hoping isn’t true – Fad Diets do not work and should be avoided at all cost.

Magic pills, fasting, cleansing, juicing, Atkins, Paleo, the Acai Berry Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, Medifast, hCG, The Tapeworm Diet (yes folks, that’s a real thing!) – DO NOT DO IT!!!! There is NO factual evidence that any extreme diet or lifestyle has any benefit at all. On the flip side, they could all be extremely dangerous.

Yes, you will probably lose weight from one of the above diets, but it will be water weight, or worse yet – muscle weight. If you are training, you need water weight (dehydration is very dangerous), and you should be aiming to gain muscle, not lose it.

At the end of the day, a balanced diet is all you need. What does that mean? Well, you’d have to go into that with your coach in greater detail.

The point is, unless you KNOW that a diet is healthy, it’s probably too good to be true. By all means, add juicing to your already-balanced diet, or incorporate some aspects of the Paleo diet – but jumping on the bandwagon is bad. And stupid.

Commercial, magazines, ads in magazines – they are all out to make money, not to help you lead a healthy life style. Got it? Good.

Get Outside

_MG_8975_final_A When asked about running by friends, acquaintances, family, strangers, and clients, often one tool comes up in conversation: the treadmill. Some people swear by the treadmill, and I have known athletes how have trained entirely on a treadmill for a marathon. if it’s for you, who am I to argue?

However, know this: your gate, form, mind, and muscles are used in a very different way on a treadmill versus running outside. Think about it: on a treadmill, you are running on a belt, so you are never really engaging those muscles that make you move forward. You are predetermining your pace, which will often times limit the runner. Outside, you will most-likely go faster. Mentally, staring at a wall, in a controlled climate is nothing like running outside or running a race. On the belt, your gate never really changes and your stabelizers that would activate while going around a turn, downhill, uphill – you would first have to mentally change it by pressing buttons on a treadmill.

My advice: GET OFF THE TREADMILL!!!!! It’s boring. It can cause knee problems. It won’t prepare you for a race. The ONLY reason I would suggest my clients run inside would be if it is unsafe to run outside. Rain, heat, wind, cold – those are not good reasons. And guess what, you cannot predict what the weather will be like on race day, so you need to learn to adapt.

Bonus: Running outside is freeing. It allows you to explore locations you probably wouldn’t otherwise see. And it’s easy to find a running buddy.

Track Your Training

img_6405-editI have all of my athletes track their training. The distance, pace and how they felt. Why? Well, this can be valuable information for the future. Plus, you can look back and see how far you have come, which is always a confidence booster.

I ask my athletes to share with me their training, as certain patterns can be important for a coach to recognize.

Personally, I track my workouts two ways. I write them all down on a calendar, and include any strength training or other forms of exercise. I take my Garmin with me on every run, so my running data is all collected on my Garmin page.

Find a way that works for you. Cause you know I’m going to ask you!