Hello Summer, Runners

source: welland good.com

source:
welland good.com

I’m probably the most excited runner you’ll meet for the entire summer. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard, “are we there yet?” It’s finally safe to say we are! Gone are the coats and heavy jackets and reels of scarves etc. Bring on the hats, sunglasses, shorts, tanks and well.. gallons of sunscreen. It’s all good; as long as we’ve got trees, breeze, trails, dusk, dawn and the gym, we’ve got this.

source: she knows.com

source: she knows.com

Some may argue that summer is just about the hardest time to get yourself motivated to exercise – it just being so hot and all. I beg to differ. Summer implies a time of adventure, frolicking, fun and getting out and about. Many of us grab some time off to go on vacation, whether for a week or a month, what better time to get and stay active giving all the running around that entails. Some of you may know of my penchant for destination marathons, I try to get at least one good adventure run in during these months, but there are so many more runs going on, whatever your style it’s out there. Add to that some exciting activities one can get up to and man.. you’re talking three months of endless fun.

source: indiatimes.com

source: indiatimes.com

Summer fun activ-ities include hiking, camping, trail running, obstacle racing, surfing, kayaking, roller blading, biking, dancing, cross fit and yoga and its variations. There are many other options for the average runner or person to add some variety to their regular schedule; summer provides the opportunity to do away with routine and shake it up, to wring from these sunny days all the fun they’re worth. Regardless of how you choose to do so, it’s a bonus when you look and feel better as a result of actively engaging those muscles to stay fit and strong. An important point to remember is to try to run at the sun’s lowest point to minimize heat & sun exposure. This means early mornings or late evenings as well as sticking to the shade when necessary. Couple that with lots of fluid to stay hydrated and loads of sunscreen and you’ll have a summer to run for.  Beach bodies you’re welcome!

summer-fun

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National Fitness and Sport Month – Stay Fit

run I couldn’t let May pass by without putting in a plug for Fitness, which is our ultimate goal. A desire to be fit and healthy regardless of the path we choose to get there, should be the driving force behind our runs or whatever form of exercise we choose. If we happen to love it and/or are good at what we choose, then that’s an added bonus.

Fitness-Holidays_Homepage_Slider

We live in very interesting times. Never before in history have people been so aware of their health and bodies, while having the knowledge and information to actually impact it in a positive way. Paradoxically, never before have we been privy to the illnesses and challenges to health that is claimed as the price of progress. To my way of thinking, knowledge remains power and we are perfectly poised to capitalize on the information and resources that are out there. Whether we will choose to take an active part and manage our health or wait on the sidelines and fall victim to the blame game remains a question only we can answer. Ample opportunity exists for those of us who physically can to embrace a method or form of exercise that works for us; one that we can work with and not dread, for while a challenge is necessary, exercise that is uninspiring and a dreaded chore is unproductive and counterintuitive. We often talk about exercise and our jobs like it’s a death sentence of sorts, and it shouldn’t be, we can enjoy or love what we do. In fact, we should; life is too short for otherwise.
Whether you choose to run, jog, walk, bike, dance, stretch, spin, skate, skip, make use of the gym, take gym classes and / or play a sport, they’re all exercise and all count towards a healthier and fitter you. Though May is almost over, it can be the start of something new or the chance to explore other avenues that will keep you active and healthily engaged. Since that has always been our goal, I’m totally on board and hope you take advantage of these last few May days to get there.

Post-Marathon: Recovery is Cool

I don’t regret my painful times, I bare my scars as if they were medals. I know that freedom has a high price, as high as that of slavery; the only difference is that you pay with pleasure and a smile, even when that that smile is dimmed by tears. – Paul Coelho

Two weeks, I am told, two weeks off will make it all better. Promises..promises. I’m kidding of course. As disappointing as my last race was and as much as I am tempted to get right back in and push at doing better, training harder, running faster, wisdom has it that I stand a much better chance of performing better in the long-term if I recover well.

The idea of recovering after a marathon, giving your body time to heal, is not a new one and is touted by many pros and coaches as necessary and even critical for maximising your long-term potential. It is true that I’ve never paid much mind to this strain of thought before now, but then I am a believer in listening to your body and the truth is mine was crying out for some rest. That doesn’t mean it was an easy decision to make, on the contrary, it took a friend of mine pushing none-to-gently (we all need friends like that) and finally being struck with the cold to get me to capitulate and surrender myself to two weeks sans running. I felt so terrible the first week – due to the cold firstly and then because I couldn’t run – I couldn’t even go to the gym to assuage my sense of deprivation with a workout and was forced to rest. Seems one benefit of recovery is to boost the immune system to guard against viruses, colds and such. Any wonder I needed it? During this recovery period, the focus is on muscle and cell repair and giving my immune system the boosts it needs by resting, sleeping and eating well.

Once I’m working with a goal I’m much more receptive, so this past week hasn’t been so bad. I’m on the mend and proved it with some gym classes, consider it light cross-training. Next week, I’ll resume with some light running as a slow build-up to getting back in training mode. No surprise there..I’m a runner aren’t I? There are races to run, new courses to discover, runners to meet and hopefully PRs to be made. With Boston 2016 behind me, though the disappointment will be with me for a while, I’m relieved and anxious to see what this new running phase will bring. Also, I’m looking forward to shaking things up a bit in the hopes of garnering better results. This is me; always looking at ways to improve as an individual and as a runner; the responsibility and power to do so is mine.

blog2~2

source: womenfitness.co.uk

 

 

Carbs and I go Running

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Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. Though often maligned in trendy diets, carbohydrates — one of the basic food groups — are important to a healthy diet (livescience.com). They are to runners what crack is to an addict. We crave it..we need it..we can’t run without it – not efficiently anyway. Bad analogy I know but you get the point. While many diet fads are trying their darnest to get folks out there to quit the carbs as a requirement for weight loss, so not true by the way, we pack it on in the name of running; and so what if we actually enjoy it.

Good Carbs                                                                                                                                        Carbs are good, scratch that, carbs are great for you. They are a necessary ingredient to your diet and a main source of energy for runners. In fact, tired, fatigued, listless, unable to complete your running workouts of late? It could well mean your diet is low in this primary fuel source. Numerous studies and information by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics particularly support a diet rich in whole grains and protein for athletes. While I am well aware that we are all in the days of counting calories, it is important to note that the emphasis is on simple carbs with naturally  occurring sugars like those found in dairy, fruit, vegetables, legumes and some whole grains (these provide more of a quick bursts of energy) and your more complex carbs or starchy foods like potatoes, corn and other whole grains. These provide more sustained energy levels needed to carry you through your workouts and runs.

Carbing Up with Power Carbs                                                                                                      Most runners readily agree that carbing up is all part of the marathon training plan and should come into play just around the same time as tapering does – 2 weeks out from the big day.  The truth is carbs are a steady part of my diet throughout the year; all I do different now that race day is fast approaching is be a bit more focused in my selections, which just means eating more carbs as I tone down my running and thus storing up on my energy level, as much as possible, for the marathons. Some of the best carbs, which can be taken pre, post and during workouts to boost up and recover include: bananas, berries, old-fashioned oats, whole wheat pasta, tomato sauce, whole grain bread, energy bars, Gatorade, brown rice and low-fat yogurt (competitor.com).

An Evolving World not so much an Evolving Diet                                                                 The world has evolved from diets  once thought of as either vegan or omnivore as most of us were. Changing times have seen the advance of gluten-free, paleo and other types of diets, most with the aim of getting you to eat healthier, which is a laudable thought if only it is wholesome and sustainable. While each person is different and may respond differently to different foods, a proper and healthy diet consist of carbohydrates. All things in moderation being the watch words. As such, I’m having a guilt-free, carb-enhanced two weeks and have only two words for you,  simply decadent😜.

The Power Of Sleep

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houstonchronicle.com

It’s funny how as you grow older you come to recognize how much your body depends on the little things you take for granted, and while you may have been able to squeeze by on say, bad eating habits, regular partying and drinking, late nights, poor rest and little sleep, as you cross the mid-thirty threshold whether runner or not, you begin to feel, look, and in many cases, perform differently. Your body lets you know in no uncertain terms that unlike before when you could get by on the fly of youth, now you would have to earn it. Those eight hours of restfull bliss that you credited only to growing minds have once again become a necessary reality for both the athlete and healthy-minded individual.

Dr. Matthew Edlund, director of the Center for Circadian Medicine, claims “you’re always remaking your body,” and you need sleep to do that. While we sleep, our bodies release growth hormone, rebuild muscles, and rewire our brains. Studies have found that chronic sleep deprivation decreases the time before an athlete reaches exhaustion. And, even one night without sleep decreased the distance test subjects were able to run in a half-hour (Sleep In — It Will Make You Faster, By Kelly O’Mara, competitor.com)

Honestly, I enjoy sleep. In my book, it ranks high up there on my sacred list of things that give unequal enjoyment – demands nothing in return. Thing is, in this day and age of relative unconectivity and constant movement, where we are busy going nowhere fast, it has become more and more difficult to find the time to do so. Amid a lot of struggles, the struggle to garner enough rest on a daily basis has become only too real. As a result, I find myself unable to fulfill my highest potential in many activities that require strenuous effort and attention. In other words, I’m way to tired, way to often. I’m also convinced that were there to be increased hours in the day, we would find even more ways to fill it up and sleep would still be neglected. Sleep just can’t win and for that matter neither will we, not if we continue at the current rate; at some point out bodies are going to yell “enough!” Why should it take that for us to stop and take notice? The red flags are there if we will but open our eyes to them. They include: constant and easy tiredness, lethargy, crankiness and short-temperedness, moodiness, poor concentration and inattentiveness, decreased strength and mediocre performance.

Some ways, aside from keeping your goal in mind, of combatting the sleep-depriving demon are:
1. Create an atmosphere for rest and relaxation: thus, your bedroom should be used only for this purpose with the correct temperature and lighting providing an ambience that is relaxing and sleep-friendly.
2. Have a set schedule where enough sleep is factored in per day: this could mean giving yourself a specific time to go to bed and treating it as you would your training schedule (sacred).
3. Go to bed earlier if you are an early riser to ensure your body gets enough rest. 
4. It helps to relax before bed to get yourself in the zone: eat dinner early, tone down activities and sources of entertaining stimulation and stay away from caffine and alcohol.
5. Nap as needed when sleep-deprived: this can help greatly in reducing stress, restoring energy and concentration though it is not a substitute for being well rested.
There is no denying that each individual is different and so has different needs and so while we all need sleep, we may need different amounts and at different times. Your best bet is to find out what works best for you. While 8-10 hours is the average need of an athlethe, you may find that you feel well and rested after 7 or 9 hours. It is your body and your call, you get to determine this based on the red flags noted above. As you come to discover the power of a good night’s rest, you may discover the reasons behind you falling short on that PR goal.
Watch: The Importance Of Sleep video

New Year, New You or Cliché?

Happy-New-Year-2016-Wallpaper_2

happynewyear2016quotes.com

No one puts aside time and make the effort every year’s end to come up with a set of goals that they plan on never seeing to fruition. Truth is, by the time January 1st comes along we’re totally excited about putting the old year behind us and stepping into what we perceive as a new opportunity, another chance to make some changes or get it right – if you will. And why shouldn’t we? The new year does indeed provide an opportunity for a fresh start for many of us. The startling, but then, not-so-startling, thing is why when fostered by so much determination, strength of purpose and the personal drive to realize our goals at the beginning of the year do they fall through? And oftentimes when we’re less than halfway into the year. Survey results show that an average eight percent of our new year goals are achieved by the year’s end. What is it that causes us to fall by the wayside leaving goals, resolutions, determinations – however you see them – as dissapointing slivers of what-could-have-been-if-only-I-had-the-wherewithal-to-stick-with-it.

Chances are we may already have a fair idea for the reasons behind our inability to follow through, but I’ll go ahead and posit anyway that those very said goals that we are bent on achieving at the beginning of the year need to be mainly two things: realistic and subject to time constraints. This is the reason why many psychologists and other professionals agree that goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. I particularly latch on to realistic and time-bound because we need to be clear on the difference between dreams and goals as this can mean the difference between success and disappointment.
Dreams fall somewhere along the lines of fanciful and wishful. While many dreams do and can come throug it may not be prudent to set a dream you have as something you would like to achieve in a year’s time. Because a dream is inherently lacking in direction, focus, strategy, planning and sometimes even in reality it does not fulfill the “SMART” criteria and can be viewed as setting oneself up for failure. For example, I dream of running the World Marathon Majors Series; however, the chances of me fulfilling that next year is akin to impossible due to varying factors such as opportunity and money. Thus, that wikl not be listed as one of my goals for next year; maybe in a few years but not in 2016. See, goals need to be realistic. I can dream of doing many things, even talk myself into thinking I can do those many things but if at the end of the day there are insurmountable obstacles to prevent them happening and they remain unachievable then they are unrealistic. Realsitc goals are goals that can be achieved with resources you either have or can obtain in the time-frame needed. In addition to realistic, goals must be bound by a period of time. This way they’re easier to manage and provide you with the focus to get it done. An example would be to say, “next year I will run 4 marathons, 1 in each season.” From this you can tell I am pacing myself and providing ample kopportunity to run a marathon every 3 months.
While I could go on about goals being “SMART,” we’ve been over that so many times already I feel it’s important to point out that if you remember anything in setting yourself goals for next year it is to try to do it with someone – a buddy –  who can hold you and you can hold accountable. We, humans, respond better when we are held accountable to someone. We tend to be more committed, more focused, more motivated, we’re all-round better at performing or even out-performing when we have someone supporting, encouraging, demanding and providing insight. It is no secret we were never meant to walk this life alone nor should we have to face challenges alone. Life is better in twos or threes or fours or… you get the picture. Your Happy New You depends on you.

Why Carbs are good for your Running

Source: active.com

Source: active.com

You’ve probably heard it enough – lose the carbs, lose the weight – that you’re thinking carbohydrates is your worst enemy. Most diets and diet-fads alike support the theory that carbs contribute to weight gain when in truth it is calories and consuming more than you burn that does that. On the other hand, carbohydrates are necessary for the proper functioning of your body. In fact, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45% to 60% of your daily calories. So, if you get 2,000 calories a day, between 900 to 1,300 should be from carbohydrates (The Mayo Clinic).

The Power to Choose (Wisely)
The problem is that not all carbs are created equal and so, it comes down to choosing your carbs wisely. Generally, nutritionists agree with choices that include whole grains and fruits and vegetables while watching your intake of naturally occurring sugar, and restricting foods with refined gains and added sugars. Particularly for the runner though, a diet rich in carbohydrates can help maximize training and performance; emphasis should be on the kind of carbs chosen, such as whole grains, beans, fresh fruit, milk and vegetables. The benefits of whole grain to your general health and wellbeing will be the subject of a later post, but suffice to say for now, your quality of life depends on it.

Power for the Run
Carbs are the brain’s main source of energy and the body’s preferred fuel source says dietician and strength coach Marie Spano R.D., C.S.C.S. It is the primary source for producing energy for all exercise including both long distance and resistance training. It follows that if you cut carbs, your energy will drop. Spano advises that decreasing the levels of your body’s stored carbohydrates will decrease your ability to produce force and power; we know the result of that.

A Running Times article on Runners World titled “Fueling the Runner: Carbohydrates –Battling a Bad Rep” by Jackie Dikos, R.D. and 2:45 marathoner, highlight a key issue that unsuspecting runners fall prey to – fatigue. She stipulates that further investigation of such a complaint may reflect a diet lacking in carbohydrates the cause of fatigue either purposely done, as part of low carb diet, or with the runner totally in the dark as to the amount of carbs needed to perform efficiently. As already stated, our bodies prefer carbohydrates as the main fuel source when we run. But did you know that if it is not present, the body will convert fat and protein into carbs for energy. According to Dikos, this is a very inefficient form of energy for an endurance athlete. When you don’t eat enough carbohydrates and continue training, your body snowballs into a state of mental and physical fatigue.

We Determine Carbs
We see then that carbohydrates are thus fuel for runners. For running efficiently and effectively we therefore need to throw away all our misgivings, all the misinformation and misrepresentation about carbs that we’ve sucked up for so long. No low-carb or no-carb diet can do the trick of making us the runners we wish to be, our responsibility is to make healthy food choices. Balance, variety and moderation should be our watchwords.

Cool Running

Source: active.com

Source: active.com

Eighty degrees plus days are here! Whether you’re up early or running late, the challenge is to find a time that’s right for you and run with it. The life of a person with a typical nine to five job reduces opportunities for running to early morning, late evening or night and weekends. Practically speaking, who wants to engage in daytime running anyhow as it can easily get up in the hundreds and there would be no chance of keeping your cool then. Of course there’s the option of the gym and anytime running on the treadmill but there’s no fun in that. Summer calls for fresh breeze, swaying trees, the scent of a million nondescript things amidst the colorful voices of chatter and laughter and chirping and buzzing in the glow of sunrise or the aftermath of sunset.

Schedules-smedules, it really dictates your pace. For my part, I’m stuck with evenings and night-time runs; not too bad really, but for the fact that I prefer early-morning runs. For one thing, it’s way cooler then as the sun hasn’t warmed up the day as yet. It’s also perfect quiet time. If you’re aesthetically inclined then you’ll appreciate this aspect of early-morning: the quiet and solitude, the just-there fresh dew upon the ground, plants and trees, the apparent newness of the day and the clean and sharp feel to the air. There’s nothing quite like waking up to greet a day that embraces and invites you to place your mark on it. Other advantages to running at this time include: a minimal amount of traffic but a prevailing sense of safety, air pollution is at its lowest, it’s not necessary to run with fuel if you’re heading out for a short run and there’s no need for extra cover and/or sunblock. It’s an added bonus that an early- morning run opens up your appetite and leaves you feeling pumped and ready to sieze the day.

If you’re a late-evening runner like myself chances are you run into night often enough and I’m talking big-moon-starry-night. For me, that’s the best part: the stillness the night carries inspite of the traffic and noise, the scatter of city lights against the darkness, the illusion of aloneness in the city parks even with other runners on the course, the opportunity to literally run the issues of the day away juxtaposed to doing an internal review of your day and planning for the next, it’s also easier to meet-up with a running group or a buddy since most people share a nine to five schedule and running after work is pretty popular, which provides you with motivation and accountability. Of course minimal wear and minimal or no sunblock is par for the course which leaves you with the only real disadvantage being wrapping up late and getting to bed then. But after a while of doing this, your body learns and it becomes part of your routine. A heads up on hydrating during these runs since it’s still pretty warm and often humid, you need to fuel up beforehand, during and after running.

Another option for cool running in the summer is running in the rain. It’s actually a favorite of mine around this time. Lots of thunderstorms hanging around and it’s the fiercest feeling you get while running through one. Go figure..it’s you against the elements. We know who wins. Ideally if it would thunderstorm during the day, on weekends, those would make for some perfect runs but you really take it when you can get it. Afterall, our goal this Summer is simply to stay running and stay cool.

Running And the Weight Factor

 

Source: runners world.co.za

Source: runners world.co.za

We live in a society consumed by weight, size and looks. Too often, you hear the words, “I’m too fat” spoken. And all too often you would find it incredulous the owner of those said words. Or would you?  Hardly ever will you hear someone complain about being too skinny or rather, under-weight, which is the purpose of this post.

I have always been a small-boned person and so never thought much of it in a Trinidadian culture that approved women with a more rounded figure. Later on, as first-world ideology creeped in, it became more apparant that skinny was not just cool, it was sexy. In fact, the skinnier, the sexier..say what? Exactly! It is now the aspiration of almost everyone. I mean forget health, it is the measuring rod by which society gauges whether one is cool or not.
For my part, I struggle with this weight issue in so far as it pertains to keeping it on. As a runner it has become increasingly difficult to maintain a I-feel-incredibly-healthy-weight, and so, it is a goal of mine to strive to stay within the range of my BMI (body max index). There was a time I went to the gym for the chief purpose of putting on weight; exercise, eating, even entertainment, was designed around this goal. The problem was and is that, as with any diet, it requires adherence to the plan. The truth is, I have neither the time nor inclination to eat six meals a day – a nutrition analysis showed this to be the case as I have an extremly high metabolism. In addition, it’s extremely expensive to eat healthy; I have no doubt I would be unable to sustain the cost of six meals a day for even six weeks, far less six months or longer. Between work, activities and running daily, my schedule is an endless hustle to get through my to-do
list, eating included.
I should say, I have a huge appetite for food, not snacks or junk, just food, but I’m really only in the company of food twice a day so that leaves me with a lot of meals to make up for. Thus, between time, cost and running, my weight has suffered.
While I have no problem with being skinny, my goal has always been to be healthy. In striving to attain this perfect balance, I tend to always overcompensate on my vegetable and fruit portions as I like to say it replaces snack for me. However, the truth is I just love it. I drink two of the Ensure protein drinks per day, these particularly, were made with active people in mind, and I take a Creatin supplement when training. I  also indulge in protein shakes – a passion of mine.
The struggle continues though. I think it’s getting to that place where I make an appointment to see my doctor. Maybe she can help.




Checking in on 2015 Running Goals; Stay Motivated

Source: truemotivation.com

Source: truemotivation.com

The daily grind can get to us. It can cause us angst and all-too-often disillusionment. That’s why I think it’s important to have constant reminders and even accountability; this helps us to maintain focus and stay motivated. Frankly, it’s all happening so fast these days, with so much of our environment, social media, the news, and just about everything else, geared toward our constant striving to stay afloat, it’s no wonder we sometimes feel overwhelmed, insecure, frustrated and dejected. The good news, if you can call it that, is you’re not alone. This fight for survival, for attainment, for our own person glory even, is not yours to fight alone. It may not sound like much, but if you can find solace in that you’ll be well on your way to getting past the first hurdle.

So you’ve taken a look back and you’re either impressed or not with the trail you’ve blazed for the past 4 1/2 months; presuming you’re pleased with what you see, then you’re pretty set for the next few months. What you’ve done has worked and I applaud your hard-work and dedication, you have a soul sister. On the other hand, we know that life can get in the way sometimes causing hiccups; know that it is ok to stop and breathe. In fact, sometimes it is necessary to do so or we risk setting ourselves up for failure. Who needs that? It is the wise person who recognizes the need to stop & reassess and sometimes reorder their goals. In that vein, you’re on the right track and would benefit from spiriting away to a quiet place, away from the clutter and noise that is your life – try a trail run outdoors, where it’s just you, nature and God – and empty your mind of everything but the moment. Revel in where you are now and be thankful. Stay there for a bit and just love yourself. You see, every now then you need to indulge in a bit of self-love, not narcissism or anything like that, but honest, real, love; only then will you be able to be real about your needs and what your plans are. This shift in focus from the worries of life and the world at large will bring you, your dreams, and your goals this year, to the forefront once more, allowing you to revise and better align your plans with your reality. That PR, Boston Qualifier, Marathon, Half-marathon, Triathlon,Iron man, Ultra, Running group, Charity run etc… whether it’s one of these or a few, is still possible. If you’ve fallen ill or something of that nature, then that’s beyond your control but if not then by God’s grace you are able.

You want to realize your desires, you have to be willing to make the necessary adjustments or/ and sacrifices. We, who know about hard-work and sacrifice, know that it will never be easy, if it were, it would not be worth it; that if we fall ten times, we stand up eleven. Failure is never an option. Indeed we have just over seven months to ensure goal realization. It is possible. You are possible.

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