Friday, January 21, 2011

Still running after January 21... of any year.

As an occasional treadmill runner, January 21st is one of my most favorite times of the year. It's the make-or-break day of yearly resolutions for most folk.

Psychologists tell us that it takes 21 days to form a habit. This is true for either a good or a bad habit. At my health club, LifeTime Fitness in Eagan, Minnesota, I've noticed that in the past 17 years that I've been a member, that the treadmills open up drastically after January 21st. By that time, the people that made the commitment to running or walking are either still there or working on a new 'resolution'.

Here's hoping that you are still on your 2011 resolution to a healthy life style. If you've made it to this point, your odds of staying with it for the rest of the year just doubled.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Running for weight loss

January is a great month for veteran runners and just-getting-started runners alike. For the new runners, its just getting the established practice of running in a consistent manner. For the vets, its a chance to back off speed, endurance, and just let the body heal while getting ready for the upcoming year/season.

For both, this is a good time to start burning through the fat in our bodies. Nature has a way of adding pounds during the winter season. A lot of people believe its because of Christmas and the Holidays. Its probably true that all of the down time mixed with parties probably adds a few pounds. But I'm of the belief, that nature adds fat to the body during this season to insulate it from the cold during these months. Of course, that's probably imbedded in my mind because of the fact that I live in Minnesota.

One misconception that is repeated time and time again, is that you can only lose weight quickly if you run at less than 70% of your maximum heart rate. I believe that health club consultants are just trying to help new runners by repeating this misconception. But the truth is, you can lose weight at the 70-85% level, just as quickly. It's simple science.

Let's say you are a 200 lb. man that runs 3 miles a day. If you run a 10 minute mile, you will burn 12 calories a minute, 67% of those of which will be fat. If you run a 8 minute mile, [again staying in the 70-85% zone] you will burn 16 calories, but only 50% will be fat [the remaining calories being burned are carbohydrates in the blood]. Either way, you will be burning 8 calories of fat. One run will take you 30 minutes to complete, the other 24 minutes. Both runs burn the same amount of total calories and fat calories. So if you are looking at efficient running, the second option [running an 8 minute mile] would be the way to go.

I'm not advocating that you do all of your runs at 70-85% of your maximum heart rate, in fact, that would get you injured sooner or later. What I am advocating is that you don't fear incorporating a tempo of faster workout in your training because you were told those workouts don't burn fat [or that they don't burn as much fat].

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Running The Sahara

Just finished watching 'Running The Sahara'. It's the story of three guys running the distance of the Sahara Desert from the Atlantic to the Red Sea... that's right - 4000 plus miles.

I'm not going to ruin the story for you but if you love watching anyone attempt this type of challenge, it gives a pretty realistic view on what a person ends up finding out about oneself. Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Self, it's all in here.

I think running has a way of doing that every day as well as through a lifetime. Those days that you get up and check the weather and see that it's already 77 degrees and 100% Humidity before 8 in the morning. As well as the days it's 26 below with a wind chill of 40 below. It's times like these that when you tie up your shoes and head out the door your mettle gets tested more than the races you run.

My nephew that teaches in Korea has a saying on the wall of his classroom: "Less excuses and more effort". It's a simple phrase that says a lot.

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Location:Hamilton Dr,Mendota Heights,United States

Monday, January 17, 2011

Running Etiquette

After running the Walt Disney Marathon,i thought it would worth sharing a couple rules of the road to any runners/walkers that may be running/walking in their first race(s).

If walking, move to the side of the road. The middle of the road should be open for any runners following you as a open path. When you stop in the middle of the road, you open yourself to a number of runners either not looking up or talking to another runner, that could cause harm to yourself or the other runner.

If you are walking with a group of other walkers, when you walk on the side of the road, walk in single file [one behind each other]. There is nothing worse for a competitive runner than trying to run around a 'wall'.

When reaching a water table, do not come to a complete stop when you get your water. If you need to be at a stand still when you drink your water, wait until you've past the water table, go to the side of the road, and drink it there. Again, there is the chance mentioned above of another runner slamming into your back if you are stationary and they are moving.

Lastly, be honest with yourself and lineup at the start based on what you truly feel should be your finishing time. It wont be any fun if a number of runners push pass you, or simply just pass you for the first couple of miles in a race. Set a goal of passing more people after you get to the half way point of the race, that passed you up tot that point in the race. Ir's much more encouraging to finish the race that way than feeling that everyone has passed you and you must now try to make up for lost time.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Walt Disney Half Marathon

Ran the Walt Disney Half Marathon last Saturday and can report that it is an event not to be missed if you haven't run it already. 27,000 Half Marathoners. Still cant believe that many people really ran that. Last time I ran any race with that many people was Boston 1996 (the 100th anniversary).

The start consists of 6 'waves' (determined by expected finishing time) each about 5-10 minutes a part. Each wave gets a Disney send off with explosions, large music and fireworks. I'm willing to bet that the local Orlando Audiologists showed an increase in visits this past week.

It starts from Epcot, travels the service road to the Magic Kingdom, through thee Magic Kingdom, back to Epcot, through it, finishing right outside the park. along the way, you are able to get photo ops with almost every Disney big name character, they really do this right.

Although i think Disney does its great job of running this race, there are a few changes they could make to improve on it. First, getting to my first observation, the number of runners they allow in this race. I've often heard runners complain at other races that 'the organizer needs to open this race to more runners'. This was an example of why race directors don't.

I had fun because I was not taking the run seriously. But if I was, or if I had trained for 12 plus weeks for it, i would've been mad about the number of walkers, width of the running path, etc. that would've made that serious training useless. Its a party race, not one that you are using for any PR (personal record) or qualification standard. So if you are going to run this race, put it in perspective.

Another change would be in how the 'waves' are set up. Yes, they did it by predicted finish times - fastest in first wave, slowest in last one. But unfortunately, it was the runner's predicted finish time. So, since I was in wave four with my wife and son, we were constantly running into walkers from wave one, two, and three within our first five miles. And yes, I know there are runners that use the Galloway Run/Walk method, I'm one of them. But these walkers were wearing clothing that i know were for walking only. This led to bumping throughout the race for those that didn't like the swerving around the runners... that weren't running.

Lastly, I would consider having the start of the race closer to a parking area that didn't have 27,000 runners walk a mile to their starting chutes/wave. I felt already warmed up by the time i got to the start, and then had to wait 40 minutes until my wave started. If there wouldn't have been such a walking jam, I would've ended up waiting one hour for the start. Disney does make it clear you are expected in your 'corral' by 5 am, regardless of you starting time. Since the first wave starts at 5:35 [five minutes after the wheelchair racers take off], that is long time to wait. Thank God it didn't rain!

But I don't want this criticism to diminish the fact that it was a fun race. I know I had fun at least. But it was an expensive race, at least I haven't paid $135 for any race I entered before that, so if you are going to run it, remember that you are doing it not to get a PR, but to be part of an event.

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