Know your body …

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Although this word of advice is general … it’s really important. Know your body. Aside from getting an MRI there is nothing or no one that knows your body like you do. Doctors are more informed about the bodies functions but don’t forget that part of the process of dianosis is asking you how your body feels. This is why doctors usually ask you what’s going on so they can help with a diagnosis. When running it’s no different. It is important that you assess your current fitness level and diet and be honest with yourself and begin to take small steps for improvement over time. I know it’s hard to hear but time and consistency is the best practice despite our wishes of a fast paced program or our instant success society. Good things often take time to accomplish. So here are some tips as it relates to running and your body?

Things not to do

  1. Don’t go for a run with a group and not know the planned distance or intensity of a workout. You could find yourself submitting to a workout that is above your current fitness level. This could lead to injury and missed weeks in your training spent recovering and icing rather than running.
  2. Don’t forget a warmup routine that includes stretching or foam rolling pre and post-workout. Warming up gets the blood circulating and foam rolling helps remove toxins from muscles and advance recovering to prepare the body for the next training run.
  3. Don’t skip rest days in training plans. The body needs to heal from the added stress of training. Rest days are important and shouldn’t be skipped.
  4. Don’t overeat. Overeating throws your body chemistry off and confuses the carb burning process. Overeating sends signals to the body to store fat instead of burning it. Keep your body in maximum fat burning by excercise and portion control and a good diet.

Things to do

  • Run with a group when you have been active for atleast 3-6 months.  Coach potatoe to running group is not a good idea. Hit the treadmill at the gym with a basic running plan “My Coach” on Nike plue app should do the trick and stay active for a sustained amount of time. Then when your body is ready for the demands of a running group go ahead with confidence.
  • Stretch and use foam roll. It really is your best friend and although its added time your body will immediately feel better.
  • Enjoy rest days for you earned them! Your body will thank you and its much needed. Plus it takes around 3 days to begin to lose your current fitness level so no need to worry. Relax and know that you are still in fat burning beast mode!
  • Love healthy foods and understand how the body functions best. Here are some notes and tips from some books I’ve recently read.

 

Diet

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  • Veggies: spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots etc, salads

  • Fruits: bananas

  • Proteins: tuna, salmon, bacon, chicken, beef, burrito bowls, egg whites

  • Fats: guacamole, avocados, nuts, chia seeds

  • Beans: beans, lentils

  • Hydration: almond milk, coco nut milk, green tea, water

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    Portion Control

  •  It’s not about how many miles you run a week. Its about how many calories of fat you burn and how many you calories you don’t burn.

  • Insulin, Carbs and Glycogen Processes

  • Being ‘Overfat’ causes you to be heavier and your running gate is altered (causing you be prone to injury), your hormones and metabolism is off, all has affect on body mechanics

  • Long runs burn both sugar and fat

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Heart Rate

  • Running at a proper heart rate so that your training your body to burn more fat. This also causes body to burn fat throughout the day as well.

 

Stretches, Foam Roller, and Lean Workouts for Runners

Recently I have been taking some time off running to heal up the swelling in my achilles and make sure I’m 100% before I begin training again. During this time I’ve been using this opportunity to think about smarter training and improvements to my physical fitness to accomodate my new goals. One of the biggest challenges in the past has been having the discpline of warming up properly before a run, using the foam roller to increase blood flow to the muscles and remove toxins from the muscles (pre and post workout), and having leaner workouts that would empower me to run better but not seek to build anymore muscle mass than my already linebacker like body currently has. This morning I tried out a light routine found on the Runner’s World website. It’s really difficult for me to switch my mindset from the power lifts I’m used to from my football days into including more range of motions excercises.

Basically I’m not trying to look like this …

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But instead shoot for more of a leaner frame like this …

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In the endurance field ‘lean is mean’ after all. Why lighter equals faster? In a great article by Amanda MacMillian in Runner’s World she quotes Matt Fitzgerald’s in the great book Racing Weight when she writes,

As a general rule, runners move most efficiently when they’re at the low end of what’s considered a healthy body mass and body-fat percentage. “Running is really just a form of jumping,” says Matt Fitzgerald, certified sports nutritionist and author of Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance. “You can’t move forward without moving up, and the more you have to lift against gravity, the more energy it requires.” Imagine running with an extra 5 pounds strapped around your waist, he explains.

So I guess if you look at running as jumping it’s better to be light and lean 🙂

Lesson learned – Achilles Tendinopathy

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The most common rule among runners when starting training is only increase mileage by 10% per week. As a young 20 something a decade ago I might have been able to disregard this rule, although it would not have been smart to do so. In reality I’m now 33 and need to start becoming smarter in my training and being more kind to my body. In the end it only pays off and is the safest way to train.

Recently I decided to set goals and get back to running. I gained a lot of weight after my wife and I’s first child. My normal average weight is around 180 lbs (which is still too heavy) but from my football days and more muscle it throws my Body Mass Index. But although 2016 was filled with many amazing experiences in the body weight category it will be my heaviest to date. I jumped to 197 lbs! I decided to do something about this at the turn of the year. I know it’s clique to be a New Year’s resolution fitness person that just braves the gym for a month and is gone but I’ve always like the spirit of the shared goal of others wanting to become healthier even if it doesn’t last (for whatever reasons for each individual). For me, I got at it. 197, 190, 187, 183 … I lost 14 lbs. A lot had to do with watching my calorie intake, portion sizes, eating more healthy, and starting a half marathon training program. My first racing weight goal is 173lbs. Although as far as the BMI is concerned that’s still over weight (163lbs would be idea for a 5’8” male) I know that I have a lot of muscle from my football days and consider 173lbs a good goal. If you consider that Usain Bolt would be considered obese as it relates to BMI you can see the limitations to this formula. But overall its a good reference for health just not to be taken absolute.

The West Point Half Marathon is coming up on March 26 and I’ve been working toward that goal. I have been progressing fairly well but after this weekends run I noticed pain in my achilles tendon with a little inflammation. After reading more about achilles tendinopathy and it seems that small tears form on the tendon created by a number of issues. Causes include  increasing mileage to fast (guilty – from coach potato to half marathon training), not enough stretching (guilty again), and running up hills or terrain not usually ran (strike three). It seems my body is telling me via my achilles tendon hold up too fast!

My plan is to rest up this week and take some time off running. I’m going to still hit the gym and concentrate on core training and toning exercises via weight lifting. In the future I plan on instituting more excercise that help with protecting against muscle imbalances that might lead to excess stress on the calves and tendons, more stretching, and moderate increases in training. Yet another lesson learned.

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Coach Witold Bilokur and caterpillars

So in the last post I discussed how Coach Witold reminds me of Mickey in Rocky Balboa and how he just so happened to beat me in a 1 mile race (I wasn’t pushing myself all out :). After my first week with the running group I learned a little more about him. He’s pretty famous. He has been featured in Runner’s World and the New York Times.

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Today we ran around 10 miles through the woods with hills. We started with a long warmup running through the woods, probably about 6 miles (problems with my gps). We did three sets of caterpillars (where runners run in a straight line and the runner in the rear sprints to the front and it continues until the time is up) at 20 mins, 15mins, and then a final mile with stopping to do stretches periodically during the runs. About 4 runners dropped out of the training. It was definitely a challenging day.

 

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First day with the Witold’s Running Club

Pictures of Mickey training Rocky Balboa is my intial thought of having a coach like Witold Bialokur. In his early 80s he’s still running a 7 min mile and has expierence training runners since 1983. Today I enjoyed the beautiful run through the woods with snow still on the ground. We did an hr jog through the woods (a little over 6 miles) with Witold leading the pack followed by a brisk one mile medium paced run followed by calisthenics to finish the training day.

The club meets on the weekends to run together plus enters into local races as well. Also they plan some social activities together about 3 times a year. Pretty nice people and I really enjoyed it. Not officially a part of the team yet but in a couple weekends of showing up on time I should be allowed. This should be a start to a new experience with better preparation for future races.

By the way Witold aka ‘Mickey’ out ran me today 🙂

Maffetone’s 180 rule

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Dr. Phil Maffetone is famous for introducing the ‘180 rule.’ His philosophy focuses on your heart rate and staying in an aerobic (fat-burning) state for your workout. (180-Age) gives you your target heart rate zone for maintaining an aerobic exercise. Of course when jumping in a higher heart rate zone you switch to anaerobic and begin to burn muscle. His famous training article ‘Want speed? Slow down!’ is fundamentally different from what any athlete would expect when seeking to run faster. When the novice thinks he must run faster he doesn’t immediately think of building miles and heart rate zones but usually gravitates toward thinking he needs to spend a lot of time on a track somewhere. Although speed training is still important the running philosophy suggested by Dr. Maffetone suggests focusing on diet and spending most training runs following the ‘180 rule.’ Of course when you begin to get into shape you find that you can run at faster splits within a lower heart rate zone. It’s amazing how the body adapts to training and prepares for a longer race.

Today on a training run I decided to put the 180 rule to practice. I noticed immediately that I had been jogging too slow. After my warmup I increased the speed to 7.5. I noticed after 2 miles that I had to lower the speed to 7.3-7.1 and then finally to 6.9 to stay within the 180 rule throughout my 4 mile run. I’m interested to see how slow I will have to train running up hills to maintain this heart rate with hill repeats and anaerobic workouts on the track.

Another suggestion by Maffeton is taking a MAF Test once a month to measure your aerobic progress. I hope to implement this on my first track workout this weekend.

This week I began looking for a running club to acquire more knowledge about running and pick up tips from other runners. After all you don’t learn everything by yourself. I got on the New York Road Runners website and found a club within a bike ride from my apartment. Witold Bialokur started his running club in 1983 and had many great years in the 80s with many famous runners. He recently ran a 7 min mile at 81! It should be a fun time on the weekends with this crew and learning from those around me.

Training is on!

 

In the beginning …

Every journey must begin somewhere. This journey begins after putting on the pounds after a hip injury and then soon after my first child Henry being born. I grew up playing multiple sports in high school and I’m built like a football player. I’m  5’8” and my weight usually is around 180lbs but after the weight gain I tipped the scale at 197lbs!

I remember as a child racing at the Boys & Girls Club of America. I loved to run and I remember the first time I got beat in a race! Then I remember beating him in a race and getting a finishing ribbon at the school field day. Soon after I started to experience a severe limp and my mother and father took me to the hospital in Atlanta.  I was diagnosed with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a rare disease that restricts blood flow to the top of the hip and causes it to deteriorate and fall out of socket. I spent a year on crutches and then another year in a specialized steel brace (purchased by the Shriners) to keep my hip in socket and to heal properly. As you probably might expect this was pretty tough for a 7 year old boy to go through. Luckily my hip healed really well and I ended up playing football at age 10, even becoming the high school quarterback later, along with basketball, baseball, and a brief bought of wrestling.

I’m not new to the exercise world but still largely inexperienced in the realm of diet and proper exercise training programs.  I’ve got the grit but I need a plan and a good diet. My experience began with running a couple 5ks and then participating in my first sprint-triathlon. I began running more 5ks (PR 22:16) and half-marathons (PR 1:46.59) and a painful marathon (PR 4:26.25). A marathon is something you cannot just show up for … lesson learned! Due to hotel reservations problems I had little sleep the night before (strike 1), I only ate a banana before the race and had no GU energy gels (Strike 2), and as an untrained youthful valiant effort I began at a 8:00 pace on my first marathon which I held until I blew up at mile 13. After that I’m not sure what my pace fell too but there was a lot of walking and pain. Little did I know that much of my mistakes could have totally been avoided and could have been more of a pleasant day with a better time. After this experience I pushed the idea of qualifying for a BQ (Boston Marathon Qualifier) and switched my focus to the sport of triathlon. I already had completed some sprint triathlons so I sought out to complete an Ironman. After finishing Ironman New Orleans 70.3 in 2011, I finished Ironman Louisville 140.6 in the Fall of 2011. During all of this I was largely an undertrained grad student with a avg. diet. Although my goal was just to finish the Ironman, looking back I wish I would have trained and prepared better for my best possible time.

So fast forward 6 years and I’m running again. I picked up the book I purchased years ago titled ‘Racing Weight: How to get lean for peak performance 5 Step Plan For Endurance Athletes’ by Matt Fitzgerald. The concepts in the book were fascinating and it showed me in the first time in my life how to eat properly. Although I never really ate bad and I picked up some good habits by reading the ‘Abs Diet’ years earlier I was still largely ill-informed on calorie control and portion sizes as well as good versus bad food. I began watching what I put in my body and monitoring my calorie intake using UnderArmor’s popular app MyfitnessPal. I began losing weight and training again for my upcoming West Point Half Marathon on March 26, 2016. I thought to myself if I were to set my goals high and get into peak racing shape then I might as well shoot for a BQ while doing it. I stumbled across a blog while researching for a training plan and was introduced to someone who did what it took to make his goal a reality. On Floris’ blog he mentions a popular health expert who has coached many athletes named Dr. Philip Mafetone. One of his articles titled ‘Want Speed? Slow Down’ I found fascinating and informative. Once again I realized that I was not only eating wrong but training at the wrong heat rate zone and not spending any time on the track speed training or hill repeats. After this information I considered why not give a BQ a shot. If I can stay healthy, get my weight down, maintain a proper diet, and put in the training what is stopping me?

Let the journey begin …