Monday, January 04, 2010

Train, train and train somemore...

SO. One of my goals this year is to start running. Like seriously. However as of right now? I probably could not run a mile without choking up a lung. Or maybe two. I'm hoping that I'll have a few 5k's under my belt by the end of the year, heck maybe I'll even do well enough to run a 1/2 marathon. Here's to hoping anyways. And to setting the bar high for myself. Goals are goals and I want to accomplish this one, so the positive thinking must commence. I can do anything I set my mind to, right? RIGHT. I found this article today that claims to be 'all you need to know' to begin running. I read it and found it intersesting so I'm sharing it with you. And so? Here is where my running journey begins. Wish me luck!
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Start Right Here: All you need to know to begin running for the first time. By Amby Burfoot, Runner's World So you want to start running? You've heard it's inexpensive, great for your health, the best way to lose weight (and keep it off). You've got friends and coworkers who run, and they're trim, happy, centered, and productive. Running also looks like a straightforward enough sport. There's only one thing that's bothering you: If running's so simple, why do you have so many questions? You're not alone. Every beginner worries about how to get started and has a lot to ask—about how to get motivated, what to eat, how to avoid injuries, and exactly when and where and how much to run. No problem. We've got the answers—from experts who have been teaching beginning running classes for up to 35 years, and from others who've certainly been around the block. Every runner began with a first step. You can, too. Inspiration: "Help, I need motivation!" Make all the excuses you want. Then get on with it. You don't have time" you don't have the energy; it's too cold/hot/rainy; the dog ate your shoelaces; Uh-huh. Now go out and run. Online running coach and former educator Dean Hebert has heard so many excuses from his runners that he assembled them into a book, Coach I Didn't Run Beacause... Excuses Not to Run and How to Overcome Them. "These excuses are real to peoples and I don't diminish in Tempe, Arizona, and can be found at "I tell my beginning runners to concentrate on the one reason that brought them to running. A clear focus can work magic on your motivation." Keep track. Keeping a written diary is a highly successful way to stick with an exercise or diet program. It doesn't have to be fancy or sophisticated. Indeed, where you place the diary might be more important than what you write in it. Put a calendar on your fridge or in front of your computer, write down every time you complete a run, and take pride in watching those numbers build up. (Or feel guilty when they don't! That'll get you out.) Keep at it. Some runners win gold medals and set world records, but no runner has ever done every workout he or she planned. You won't either. Stuff happens, but you can deal as long as you stay focused on the big picture. Shrug off the bad days, get back on the program, and you'll still achieve your goals—losing weight, gaining energy, improving your health, adding distance to your runs, and so on. Remaining persistent is crucial to improved running. "When beginners get discouraged or hit a plateau, I tell them to remember the time and effort invested and the progress they've made," says beginners coach Jane Serues. "You don't want to slide backward, you want to keep working toward the progress ahead." Find a fitness friend. Beginning running coaches agree that one of the best ways to stick with your exercise program is to get a training partner. When someone is counting on you as much as you're counting on him/her, it's much tougher to blow off a workout. But it has to be someone of similar ability who is supportive, not competitive with you. "We emphasize the emotional power of training partners," says Serues, who's introduced 6,000 women to running in the Lehigh Valley of eastern Pennsylvania. "One or two is good. Three or four are even better." Nutrition: "I Don't Know What To Eat!" Pass on the extra carbs. Bread, bagels, pasta, potatoes, and pancakes—you just can't get enough, right? Wrong, says Boston-area sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, R. D., author of the new book Nancy Clark's Food Guide for New Runners. Running two or three miles at an easy pace will burn 200 to 300 calories, an amount so modest that it doesn't demand lumberjack portions of carbs (or anything else) before or after. Clark advocates eating healthy foods throughout the day, and having a small snack an hour or two before you run. "Exercisers shouldn't skip meals early in the day or try to run on fumes," she says. "But you don't require special foods after a workout—just a snack that offers a few carbs and a little protein." Drink water. But only when you're thirsty. Yes, runners sweat a lot. Yes, they need water, sugar, and electrolytes when they run for 90 minutes or more, particularly in warm weather. But unless you're training for a marathon this summer (which you won't be), you don't need sports drinks and an advanced hydration strategy. Sip a little water before your workout and a little more after. And skip the extra calories in sweetened drinks. "Beginning runners don't need a sports drink, because they're not running far enough," notes Clark. Eat real food. Runners, even beginners, tend to be driven, results-oriented people. When promised shortcuts, miracle cures, and unbelievable benefits from supplement and "superfood" manufacturers, they're easily swayed. However, eating standard, simple, unprocessed natural foods will give you the same end results. "Every time one of those vitamin or supplement studies produces a negative result, I am reassured that focusing on quality calories is the best advice," says Clark. "I've always believed that the healthiest foods are the real foods—the quality vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins packed with everything runners need." If you want to lose weight ... Sorry, but you won't automatically drop five pounds just because you run, says Clark. You also have to reduce your daily food intake. Each mile you run burns roughly 100 calories. Cut out a cookie or two every day, and you can add another 100 calories to your weight-loss effort. "Reducing calorie consumption by just 100 calories a day will theoretically give you a 10-pound weight loss by the end of the year," Clark says. "Hit 200 calories a day, and you'll lose 20 pounds." Clark suggests cutting calories by eating smaller portions and fewer fried foods. Injury prevention: "How Can I Avoid Injury, Or Worse?" Stretch after you run, not before. Runners have long believed that stretching will give them a longer, smoother stride and reduce their risk of injuries. However, in recent years research has failed to prove either point. Budd Coates and Jeff Galloway say they've never advocated stretching for their beginning runners, and the runners haven't developed injuries. Adds Dr. Lewis Maharam: "A preworkout stretching routine doesn't prevent injuries or improve performance, so there's no reason to do it. The time to do your stretching is after your run, or even later in the evening." Stretch (without straining) your calves, quads, and hamstrings for 10 to 15 minutes. Expect a little tenderness. Sure, runners have to deal with occasional aches and pains. Especially beginners. However, these are temporary complaints, and don't lead to long-term damage. Last summer, the Archives of Internal Medicine published a study on a group of runners who were first investigated in the mid-1980s when they were 50 years old or older. Twenty-one years later, these runners, now in their mid-70s, were found to have better function and overall health, and less disabilities than similar individuals who had not been running for two decades. When you experience mild aches and pains, follow the tried-and-true RICE prescription: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Don't overuse pain meds and anti-inflammatories. "The over-the-counter meds are not perfectly safe and aren't meant to mask pain," says Dr. Maharam. "Overuse can lead to liver, stomach, and kidney problems." You're (almost certainly) not going to die. Yes, heart attacks happen, and they make headlines. But these events are extremely rare, averaging about one for every 800,000 half-hour workouts. Meanwhile, it's a well-established medical fact that runners and other highly fit individuals have a 50 percent lower risk of heart attack than nonexercisers. It's more dangerous to sit in front of your TV. The heart is a muscle. If you don't exercise it, it becomes weak and flabby. Still, every runner should know the signs of a heart attack: unusual shortness of breath; chest, arm or neck tightness (especially on the left side); nausea; and a cold sweat. If you experience these, stop immediately, and call your doctor. Gear: "Do I need fancy stuff?" Buy the right shoes. You don't absolutely, positively need a new pair of running shoes when you begin running. You can run in your comfortable crosstrainers, sneakers, or walking shoes. But when you're ready, the right pair will make your runs more comfortable while adding extra injury-prevention features. Selecting these shoes, sad to say, can be a complex process. That's why it's smart to go to a specialty running store. The experienced staff will make sure you get shoes that fit right and provide the biomechanical support you need. Expect to pay $85 to $120. "We know how to look at your foot when it hits the road, and that makes a huge difference," says J. D. Denton, senior writer at Running Times and owner of a Fleet Feet running store in Davis, Calif. Wear polyester. You don't need a lot of expensive gear to run, which is good news in a recession. That said, you'll never regret the dollars you spend on breathable socks, and even shirts and shorts. These garments, made from polyester fabrics, are a world apart from the scratchy material your father ran track in. The best are lightweight, soft, and nonchafing. "They'll prevent blisters and rashes," says Denton, "and they'll actually help keep you cooler in summer and warmer in winter." Forget about gadgets. Heart-rate monitors, GPS systems on a watch, accelerometers that tell you how fast you're going, cell phones with astonishing tools—none of these glitzy products will help your first efforts. All you really need is a watch with a stopwatch function, available for around $30 at any drugstore, to help you keep track of your walking and running intervals. Don't worry about other fancy gizmos. But if your iPod makes your workouts go better, by all means take it with you—as long as you run in a safe place. Training: "So How Do I Do This?" Start slow. Back off. Most beginning runners worry that they're not improving fast enough. Don't compare yourself with others. Every runner gets into shape according to his own body's schedule. Physiologists have calculated that any and all running paces are fast enough to put you into the moderate-to-vigorous aerobic zone that delivers health benefits. So take your time and focus on going farther, not faster. "We tell people that they didn't get out of shape in five weeks, and they're not going to get back in shape in five weeks," says Bob Glover. And again: go slow. If you feel out of breath or sick to your stomach, you're running too fast, a mistake made by perhaps 99 percent of beginners. "A lot of people think that they have to go at least a mile at a time, and at a good clip," says Budd Coates. "I always tell my beginning runners to slow down and take more walk breaks." When you slow down and/or walk more, your breathlessness and nausea will go away. You'll learn that running should be a relaxed activity, and that you should "train, not strain." And, yes, beginning running includes lots of walking. Get over it. Run tall and relaxed. For the most part, you don't have to worry about your technique. That said, experts agree that you should run tall (not slouched) and straight (not leaning far forward or backward). Don't overstride; that could put extra strain on your knees. "Run with your eyes focused about nine feet ahead," says Jane Serues. "Let your arms relax, down around your waist, and take a natural, comfortable stride." Whenever and wherever. Is there a best time and place to run? Sure: whenever and wherever is most convenient. Finding ways to fit workouts into your schedule is more important than fretting over the when/where questions. Neighborhood roads, a high school track, a treadmill—all good. Beginners should stick to relatively flat running. Hills dramatically increase the muscular and aerobic strain of a run. Run against traffic, so drivers can see you. After all, you're in this for the long run. Provided by Runner's World SOURCE

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