Posts Tagged ‘Running’

Keeping cool while working up a sweat

July 5, 2011

Now that the Fourth of July has come and gone, we are officially in the heart of summer.  And that means really hot and hazy and humid days in the Northeast, kind of like the one we’re having today.  While I prefer working out at the gym between now and September, there are those of you who insist you have to run outdoors even on the hottest day of the year.  You should be okay if you stay hydrated, avoid running at the hottest time of day and listen to your body for the signs of heatstroke, but here’s something else to consider: use a cooling neck wrap.

A recent study found that athletes who wore such a wrap were able to work out longer and harder even when it was very hot out.  Apparently the wrap tricks the brain into thinking the body is cool.  They think it has something to do with the wrap cooling the blood that’s flowing into the brain.  But there’s a HUGE caveat.  Even though a person doesn’t feel hot, the body still responds as if it is (increased heart rate, higher temperature, etc.).  That means if you’re not careful, you could still end up with heatstroke. 

I say skip the run on the really hot days and do some laps in the pool instead. 

 

Another exercise myth busted

June 2, 2011

Pop quiz time!

True or False: You’ll burn more fat if you skip breakfast before your morning workout.

FALSE!

No matter whether you eat breakfast before or after your AM trip to the gym, you’re going to burn the same number of calories.  (3 miles on an empty stomach is the same as 3 miles with a full tank)  The myth stems from the (misguided) belief that by skipping that first meal of the day you’ll force your body to burn fat for fuel.  While your body will turn to its energy stores when running on empty, it won’t tap those jiggly thighs or flabby abs for fuel.  Instead, the body uses a different kind of fat that’s stored in your muscles. 

Bottom line: Don’t skip the Wheaties!  In fact, you may find a light meal before a workout leads to a more intense session because your body is fueled and ready to go.

Ugh, running.

May 12, 2011

You may or may not know this, but I really don’t like running.  You wouldn’t know it with two triathlons, two half marathons and a handful of 5ks under my belt, but seriously, I don’t enjoy as much as I think I should.

Part of the problem is that I’m too slow.  I feel like I should be running a faster pace than I usually do and the fact that I can’t, frustrates me.  Sure, I’ve improved since I first started training for races and there are days that I look forward to a run, but most of the time I don’t.  The reason for that is that during the run and especially after, I’m in a lot of pain.

Now I don’t suffer the usual runner’s pain of aching knees, sore hamstrings or even shin splints.  Nope, my problem is my feet.  I’ve had issues with them since I was a pre-teen and while some corrective measures have helped, at the end of the day (or a run), my feet HURT.  And yet I keep running, hoping I’ll one day finish a run and not be in pain.  That day came last week.

All the usual treadmills at the gym were being used, so I hopped on one that I (and everyone else) usually go to as a last resort.  I can’t explain why, except maybe it’s because the control panel doesn’t have bells and whistles like a personal trainer or a fan (which is why I always skipped over them).  There’s also less space to put your stuff one, just two little nets to hold everything.  It’s called the Woodway and it’s with hesitation that I tried it.  I’ll never use the other treadmills again.

Right off the bat, I knew it was different.  When I picked up the speed, there wasn’t that usual pounding sound you hear when running on the regular treadmills.  It also didn’t feel as if I was landing as hard, more like I was running on a dirt path through the woods.  (Maybe that’s genesis of the name?)  I set out to run 3.5 miles that workout and expected the usually pain in my feet around 2.25 miles, but it never came.  In fact I made it through the whole run with only some minimal discomfort by the end of it.

I thought maybe it was a fluke, so I tried the treadmill again today.  Same thing.  So I looked up the company.  Apparently Woodways are designed to minimize shock.  Needless to say, I’m never going back to those old pounding treadmills again!   I do have one request however to the designers over at Woodway…could we maybe get a model with a built-in fan?  Thanks in advance!

Runner’s loss

April 19, 2011

The world lost one of it’s greatest female athletes today.

Elite Norweigan runner Grete Waitz lost her six year battle with cancer this morning.  She was 57.

Waitz was a legend in the running world, having won the New York City Marathon a record nine times.  That’s more than any other woman…or man.

She also won a silver medal in the first ever Women’s Marathon event in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

She’ll undoubtedly be missed.

Running Outdoors for Dummies

April 12, 2011

Image Credit: KENNETH LAMBERT

If you’re like me, then you like to plan out your runs before you start them.  I hate just running with no set course.  I need to know where I’m going and how many miles I’ll log while doing it.

Lucky for me, there is no shortage of websites that offer to map my run for me.

If you’re always running the same courses, these maps aren’t all that useful, but they’re great if you find yourself in a new place (a relative’s house, on vacation) and want to keep up your running routine.

I’ve tried the popular and appropriately named mapmyrun.com, but the amount of clutter on the site makes my head reel.  I prefer the more streamlined look and fewer pop-up ads of  runningmap.com.  Like Map My Run, Running Map uses the Google Map interface to allow to plot your course.  Just click along the route you’d like to take and it adds up the mileage for you.  There’s no need to sign up for an account, but if you do, the site will save your routes for you for easy access.

Now wasn’t that easy?

Keeping Toasty

April 8, 2011

One of the hardest things about running when it’s cold out is figuring out what to wear.  You don’t want to wear too much cause, if you’re like me, once you start moving, you start sweating.  If you wear too little, you’re bound to freeze no matter how fast a pace you keep.  Layers are key, but so too is a hat.

During last weekend’s half marathon, I sported a knitted beanie for the race.  It was great at the start when it was cold, but as the race progressed I got too hot.  Not to mention the fact that I had to wear my hair in a low pontail because those kinds of hats are impossible to wear with your hair up.  If only there was a way…AND THERE IS!!

Around mile 6, I spotted a couple of female runners with beanie’s that had a hole for a ponytail!  I caught up with them and asked where they got it.  Turns out it’s made by a company called iRUNLIKEAGIRL that deals exclusively in activewear for women.  The two ladies I spoke with loved their hats which they told me kept them dry and warm, but not too hot.  And they’re cute too!  You can buy your own here.  I know I will!

Tips for tackling hills

April 5, 2011

Competed in my second half marathon this past weekend.  Covering those 13.1 miles were just as hard as I remembered them being the first time, except this time around I had the added pleasure of tackling 4 monster hills (well, actually 2, but we ran them twice since the course was a loop).  As I chugged up the hills, I noticed many of my fellow runners took the climb as a walking break and I don’t blame them.  Hills are tough, especially if you haven’t trained for them, but you can conquer them, the trick is…you have to not think like a runner. 

It’s instinctive for a runner to lean into a hill while trying to run up one.  We think that by throwing our weight forward we’re somehow helping to propel ourselves forward, but we’re actually making it harder.  When you lean forward, you force your quads to do all the work, not to mention you’re putting a lot of pressure on your knees.  Meanwhile, your other leg muscles (your gluteus maximus and hamstrings) are just along for the ride.  Considering your butt is your body’s biggest muscle, it would make sense to use it, right?  That’s why I suggest you think like a cyclist.

The next time you’re faced with a hill, keep your upper body upright and lean back…using your hamstrings and butt to keep moving.  The sensation is the same as sitting back in the saddle when riding a bike up a hill.  You’ll find if you do this, you’ll get up those hills faster and you’ll be less tired once you reach the top because you’re exerting less effort by using those bigger muscles.

Another technique you can take from cyclists is to power through the downhills.  It’s easy to ease up on your pace when you don’t have to work too hard, but maintaining a steady pace, even speeding it up a bit, while running downhill will help to make up the time spent on walking breaks.

Oh and there’s one more biker trick I want to share.  If you find your knees/hips hurt during a run, it’s probably because you aren’t aligned properly.  To keep everything where it should be (and minimize injury), concentrate on keeping your knees forward as you run.  Imagine you have headlights strapped to your knee caps and focus on illuminating the path right in front of you. 

Just so you know, all these tips helped me turn in a decent time of 2:41:25 on Sunday.  That averages out to about a 12:20 mile.  I may not be fast, but I finished!

Monday Music Mayhem

March 28, 2011

Just finished an 11.5 miler (that’s way this post is so late today).  And although I run the risk of repeating music suggestions, I thought I’d share some of the list that kept me running past my original 10 mile mark.

Heartless — Kanye West

California Gurls — Katy Perry

OMG (Cory Enemy Club Mix) — Usher

Poker Face — Lady Gaga

Gold Digger — Kanye West

In Da Club — 50 Cent

Feel Good Inc. — Gorillaz

Pon De Replay — Rihanna

Sexy Bitch — David Guetta

Cyclone — Baby Bash

Firework — Katy Perry

Break Your Heart — Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris

Temperature — Sean Paul

Raise Your Glass — Pink

Telephone — Lady Gaga

1,2, Step — Ciara

Teenage Dream — Katy Perry

Like a G6 — Far East Movement

London Bridge — Fergie

I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho) — Pitbull

The 100 calorie rule

February 24, 2011

If you’re training for an endurance race like a half marathon, marathon or triathlon, you’ve probably read that you need to incorporate sports drinks or gels or bars at some point during your long workout sessions.  But if you’re new to endurance training and are used to drinking just water during your workouts, the transition can be confusing. 

How many extra calories do you need to take in and at what point during your run or ride should you start?  Here are the general rules:

  • During any workout up to one hour, plain water is fine. 

In fact, if you’re a just a regular gym rat (read: not training for anything) you should stick to just water.  Consider this: a woman weighing 150 pounds burns 98 calories per mile run.  The average sports drink contains 125 calories per bottle.  That means you’d have to run roughly 1.25 miles  before you actually start burning more calories than you’ve consumed. 

  • For those of us who are tackling training runs/rides in excess of an hour, it’s recommended to consume 100 calories or 30 grams of carbohydrate (drink or gel) for every hour beyond the 60 minute mark.

As for what to eat and/or drink, I prefer the fruity sports snacks like Gatorade, Powerade and Clif Shot Bloks.  Gu is also good if you’re looking for something really sweet. 

And here’s a tip if you’re planning on consuming the Bloks or Gu during a race…make sure you eat it near a water station.  You’re going to need the water to wash that stuff down because it has a tendency of sticking your jaw shut.

Writing that takes the gold

February 17, 2011

As someone who writes for a living (both here and at my job) I have a great appreciation for the clever use of words.  While browsing the New York Times yesterday, I came across one of the best metaphors I’ve ever read and because it’s exercise related, I thought I’d share it with you.

The sentence is from an article about the failure of the 2012 Olympic organizers in London to follow through on their promise to get more people involved in sports and exercise.  They had a goal to get two million people to be more active by 2012, but at the current rate, they won’t reach that number until 2023-24.  (A little behind pace, no?)

Anyway, here’s how the reporter describes the failure:

“…with the Games in less than 18 months, that commitment now resembles a wheezing jogger, bent over and winded from a New Year’s resolution whose ambition could not be matched by exertion.”

Not only do I know exactly what that looks like, I know exactly what that feels like.

Here’s the link to the rest of the article.