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So, you think you want to do a mud race??? Part 1

30 Sep

Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Original Mud Run, and so on and so on and so on. These races are popular! If you haven’t done one, chances are that your friends will sign you up for one. They happen year-round. Michigan and Indiana in November? Bundle up and prepare to possibly race in the snow. Arizona or Texas in July? Hope they let you race naked (where will you pin your number??? Ouch!) I have 4 of these under my belt this year and I get a lot of questions about preparing for these races. Here’s a comprehensive guide:

1) “I need to get in better shape before I try one.” No, you don’t. MOST of the people doing these races are weekend warriors at best. You’ll have your serious athletes sprinkled in too (caution, they may take the race seriously). Any race offering free beer and firemen to hose you off post-race is meant to be a fun race. Hint, they usually let you by-pass obstacles too.

2) However, if you want to perform better in the race and do every obstacle, join a bootcamp or, better yet, a CrossFit class. Box jumps, rope climbs, speed intervals (running, rowing, etc.), pull-ups, push-ups, sled pulls, weighted vest runs, and hurdles are all moves that will help you in the races.  If you can’t get to a bootcamp or CrossFit gym, any general physical fitness will do. Most races post the course in advance, so you can get a good idea of the specific obstacles to train for.
By the way, being able to swim a short distance will help you by-pass a lot of people. There’s usually some kind of water crossing in which people wade or pull themselves on a rope. Swimming is far more efficient (and faster) in getting from shoreline A to shoreline B.


Are all humans "born to run"?

10 Sep

I was thinking about this as I was completing a long tempo swim yesterday. I wasn’t born to swim, but with only 3 weeks available, I jumped in a pool and started training to complete a triathlon. The first time, I couldn’t swim more than a lap and I would be so exhausted that I had to catch a breather on the edge of the pool while thinking “What have I gotten myself into?!?” Yesterday I swam a full mile, no stopping. So was I born to swim? Hardly. I invested hard work and lots of positive thinking to go from 1 lap to a full mile in 3 months.

The same has been true for everything I’ve done in my life. I may have been born with some talents or tendencies towards some of the things I’ve done (for example, I have perfect pitch, which made music come easier to me than most kids). Even in the areas of some God-given talent, I had to learn a skill, practice the skill and work hard to become really good at the skill. I wasn’t a born swimmer or runner or weight lifter or chef or musician or wife – I have to continue investing practice and hard work into these areas. I have to keep telling myself that I can do this or that, so as not to get discouraged and take the easier route that requires little or no hard work.

Learn a skill, practice the skill and put a little hard work and positive thinking into the skill. It’s the secret to success. No more living behind the crutch of “I wasn’t born to do that…”. We were not “born to run”, but a little hard work will make it appear and feel like we were born runners!

ANYONE who runs should read this article!

18 Aug

Or at least watch the 2 minute video included with the article.

Even thought its a small sample size study, the conclusions are the same as many other studies surrounding barefoot running. ACE Fitness conducted a comprehensive study on the use of traditional running shoes vs. Vibram Five-Fingers vs. full barefoot running. Please read with an open mind. I’m not sponsored by Vibrams (I wish I was!), but I can honestly say the transition to minimalist running has improved my running form, speed and helped me better manage old running injuries.

Don’t knock it before you try it!

1 Aug

I like to try new things, but sometimes I’m stubborn and resistant….so when I saw the Vibrams Five Finger shoes, I said “Not for me”. I’ve had a whole host of foot/ankle/calf/knee issues that led me on the path to consult with multiple doctors (4 to be exact) and 3 physical therapists. The docs and the PT’s mean well; they prescribe what they are taught. I ended up in orthotics and motion control shoes, aka big heavy rocks that limited any foot/ankle motion. Per one PT, I altered how I ran from “toe running” to heal striking. The pain only got worse. I was told everything from I should never run to I will need surgery. It wasn’t until I met the 4th doctor, a runner himself, that I discovered the wonderful practice of Active Release Therapy (ART). It was tremendously helpful, yet I still suffered pain on my foot/ankle/calf/knee if I ran too much. The doc stopped short of telling me that maybe the shoes and orthotics were causing more harm than good for me. That’s when I discovered CrossFit Endurance and the POSE running method.

I attended the CFE course for educational purposes, not to solve my foot/ankle/calf/knees issues. I learned that I was running all wrong, from wearing the wrong shoes to running using the wrong form. Since I didn’t have a lot of running under my belt, switching to the form they suggested was an easy transition for me…oh yeah, they asked me to run barefoot too (back to my natural running form). So, I buy Vibrams…found an excellent price on them. Every time I take them off, my foot/ankle/calf/knee feels fantastic. I mean, I’m shocked how the areas suffering past “injury” feel. I’ve gone from sleeping in a splint every night to not needing a splint. I’ve gone from needing the daily assistance of a fancy $300 foot and calf massager, to not needing that piece of machinery. I thought the Vibrams looked retarded in addition to thinking they weren’t for me because they lacked support, a big heel, etc. etc. They never let me heel strike; They force proper running form. My husband is even thinking of getting a pair! I’ve thrown out my orthotics and my old shoes are reserved for mowing and mud races.

This past weekend sealed the deal for me – I participated in a 5 mile adventure race, complete with plenty of mud. I wore my old, clunky, think-heeled, pain-inducing shoes (bad decision, but I was worried that I hadn’t sufficiently broken in my Vibrams yet). 2 days later, I’m still in pain from wearing the old shoes, even though I focused on my running form. The big, heavy, clunky shoes didn’t agree with my ankles and calves and I now have foot pain that I haven’t had since before the CFE course.

Morale of the story, don’t knock something until you try it. While Vibrams may not be for you, it may be that you will lose weight on a lower carb diet, or be able to “exercise your way out of pain” by strengthening weak muscles. We live in an amazing world that affords us the opportunity of trying many different routes to find what works for the individual. The fitness industry is a great example. You may achieve your goals by training under X method, while the same method may not work for another person. Try to be open-minded and “don’t knock it until you try it”.

For my runners and endurance athletes

27 Jul

Want to be fast like Usain Bolt? Read the following:

Running is the fountain of youth?

24 Jul

OK, maybe that’s a bold statement, but there is scientific evidence that aerobic exercise can keep you looking younger. The study comes from Canada’s McMaster University. The study found that vigorous exercise reduced all the signs of aging in lab mice. It comes down to changes in mitochondria. If you want to geek out (like I do) with more detailed info, check out page 19 in the July 2011 issue of Competitor Magazine.

In short, the fit person’s mitochondria can kick the non-fit person’s mitochondria’s butt!