Monthly Archives: August 2015

Top 10 Running Articles of the Month: August 2015

If you are looking for some inspiration and running tips, check out this list of articles I read and liked during the month of August. I LOVE to promote other running writers 🙂

How to Set Good Running Goals. Meb Keflezighi tells Runner’s World the 5 step plan to reach any goal. It all starts with an internal desire to do so. YOU must want to achieve the goal only for yourself and not to please anyone else. Then, it must be specific, challenging and realistic. In addition, it must keep you motivated to keep working towards it.

The Big 7 Body Breakdowns. This article discusses some of the most common injuries that many runners deal with. Not only that, it also discusses ways to prevent these injuries and recover from them. Keep in mind though, that what works for one person may not work for another and that this article only offers general guidelines. It does not, however, replace physiotherapy.

Train Your Brain to Run Your Best by Michelle Hamilton. Many times, runners psych themselves out of personal bests because they are unable to silence their own inner critic. This article explains how just doing the work is not quite enough to see the results. We have to train our brain the same way we train our body.

Should I Start a Running Streak?  by Canadian Running Magazine. There are definitely some advantages to being a streak runner, because you never skip a run and you run every day. However, recovery is a big part of becoming a better runner. Running every single day can cause overuse injuries and is definitely not for everyone, especially if you are just starting it.

Training Tips: See a Specialist for Expert Advice by Canadian Running Magazine. Whether you think you are getting injured or you need some extra motivation, find an expert to help you. Strictly relying on information from websites and magazines is not enough.

Dylan Wykes Shares his Tips on Surviving a Stress Fracture by Canadian Running Magazine. Dylan Wykes is a Canadian Olympian with a sub 2:11 personal best in the marathon. Although he hasn’t had too many injuries, he has had a stress fracture before. With that in mind, Dylan shared some tips on how he survived it in order to come back stronger and faster than before.

Injury Prevention-When to Run and When to Rest by Dan Way at Canadian Running Magazine. This article helps runners of all levels decipher when to take a couple of days off and when to continue training. It’s very difficult for some runners to take rest days, but rest days are very important. Recovery days help prevent overtraining, chronic fatigue and injuries which can cause serious setbacks down the road.

Test Your Flexibility by Canadian Running Magazine. Mobility and proper range of motion around the joints are very important for preventing running injuries. This article is very easy to understand and find out how flexible you are.

Tibial Stress Injuries by Canadian Running Magazine. Shin pain should not be ignored because it could be a sign of a more serious issue. Tibial stress injuries are common amongst runners and quite often runners are in denial that they have a problem. It’s very important to understand the cause of shin pain and get it taken care of before it causes you to take several weeks off running.

Lies Beginner Runners Need to Stop Believing by Canadian Running Magazine. There are always preconceived myths about running, such as “you always need to go fast” and that “if you run slow then you’re not a real runner”. Who cares if you are not a morning person or a sub 18 min 5k runner? What you need to do is stop believing all the BS that you hear about running and start actually enjoying your running.

My 5 Takeaways from Usain Bolt’s “Faster than Lightning”

A while ago, I finished reading Usain Bolt’s autobiography called “Faster than Lightning.”

Ever since I first witnessed Usain Bolt winning multiple Olympic gold medals, I became more inspired. For a long time, I’ve been wanting to see what goes on inside his head in order to learn how champions think.

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I wanted to know what he went through to get to the top, in order to understand what it takes to continuously get better, faster, stronger.

This book was definitely an inspiring eye opener.

The way Usain Bolt faced his challenges was nothing short of admirable. He persevered in times when most people would have given up.

First, he was diagnosed with an unusual back condition that derailed his training. Then, he was in a potentially career-ending car accident in 2009 if he had not been lucky enough to escape serious injuries.

He is definitely a role model to many. Although realistically the majority of athletes may not reach his level of success, fame and fortune, we can all learn something from him that will help us all get better.

Below are my takeaways from the book.

1. Relax before races. Worrying about a race or who you are competing against will not help you perform better. In fact, it will cause unnecessary stress, which is detrimental to your performance. You already did all the work leading up to the race, so why worry about any outcomes that you really can’t control?

2. Manage your injuries. As an athlete, you must learn to be aware of your body. If you catch an injury early enough and take care of it properly, you will prevent a disaster in the future.

3. The point of no return. My understanding is that if an athlete is healthy, then it’s acceptable for him/her to experience the point of no return a few times during their training cycle. This is the type of workout where you test your limits. You push yourself harder than you ever have before to see what you are made of. However, one has to be careful with this one and ensure adequate recovery after a session like this (example: intervals).

4. Believe in yourself. Regardless of what was happening in his life, Usain Bolt learned to believe in himself. He thought like a champion. It doesn’t really matter how good you are, if you love your sport, you will keep trying to get better. However, before you can do that, you have to believe that you can.

5. Compete and train with the best. You have to strive to be the cream of the crop, not cream of the crap. If you’re always competing with those who are weaker and slower than you, then you won’t get any better. Training and competing with the best will push you to step up your game.

Usain’s story is very inspiring and I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to learn about him. I give this book 5 stars for the inspiration and I encourage every aspiring athlete to read it. It’s entertaining, motivating and informative. The road to success is not always paved with gold.

4 Temptations to Avoid if You Want to Reach Your Fitness Goals

I know, I know…you’re probably thinking that I’m going to list 4 tasty yet unhealthy foods that you shouldn’t eat.

However, that’s not what I’m doing.

The Internet doesn’t need another article that tells you which junk food not to eat. You already have that knowledge.

My telling you what you shouldn’t eat is not going to help you.

Let’s face it, how many times have you been told to stop doing something that brings you temporary pleasure while at the same time is bad for you?

Did you actually stop doing it because someone told you to? The answer is likely “no.”

The temptations that you should avoid are those that don’t help you at all. They don’t even bring you temporary pleasure. However, if we are honest with ourselves, we will realize that we are all guilty of at least one of them.

The temptation to quit.

We all know how challenging it can be. Sometimes, we feel as though everything we’ve tried so far has been a failure. Some of us feel that no matter what we do, we still just can’t quite fit into that cute little dress or go up the stairs without getting out of breath.

We get discouraged because we are working so hard, yet it appears that nothing is happening.

However, if you quit, then you will have wasted all the time that you’ve already put into your journey. Not only that, but you will have to start over again.

Break the cycle. Don’t quit. Keep believing that results are around the corner. Understand that starting over is a lot harder than keeping going.

Most likely, if you’ve been at this a while, you’re only “3 feet away from gold”. Therefore, keep digging.

The temptation to find an easier way.

The truth is, there are no shortcuts to any place worth going. When it comes to fitness, there are no quick fixes.

The easier way usually comes with a price that’s too “expensive” to pay and is therefore not worth it.

You don’t need to take dangerous drugs to lose weight faster. Losing weight faster is not worth putting your health at risk.

Forget the shortcuts and start putting in the work. You will be happier and healthier in the long run.

The temptation that X, Y, Z needs to be in place for you to succeed.

For example, “I would workout if I didn’t have to take care of the kids and work” or “I would eat healthier if it wasn’t so expensive.”

Basically, “if only I had everything perfect in my life, then I would have the time, money and energy to reach my fitness goals and be happy.”

I hate to bear the bad news, but absolute perfection is unattainable. Therefore, we must focus on what we can do now to make small (but sometimes necessary) changes to our lives that will bring us one step closer to success.

The temptation to compare ourselves to others.

A little friendly competition with your friends never hurts. However, it should not consume your entire life.

So what if your friend Jessica is 2 pant sizes smaller than you right now? Jessica’s pant size does not affect your life in any way, so don’t let it. Beating yourself up over the fact that Jessica’s pant size is smaller will not help you lose 2 pant sizes.

There will always be someone who is thinner, richer, faster, smarter and prettier than you, but worrying about it will not get you any closer to reaching your own goals.

You can’t compare someone’s Chapter 20 to your Chapter 1. It’s not a fair comparison and the only thing that will happen is you will end up feeling demotivated and demoralized.

We often feel like failures when we spend our entire lives focused on how well everyone is doing compared to us. This, in turn, is what makes us want to give up. It’s extremely difficult to not compare ourselves to other people. We must run our own race.

In conclusion, I know that we all have been there.

Falling trap to these temptations is a lot easier than taking responsibility for what we are doing to actually reach our goals. However, if we channeled all the energy that we waste on those temptations into taking action towards our goals, we would accomplish a lot more. These temptations are the biggest barriers to our success.

If you found this useful, please share 🙂

 

Why Restrictive Diets Don’t Work

Many times, when people follow restrictive diets, they feel like they are in control of their destiny. Being able to stick to that diet for a long time is a sign of discipline and willpower, right? Wrong.

We are made to feel that if we are not on Diet X, Y, Z, then we will never reach out fitness goals. After all, if we are not depriving ourselves of treats then that means we are failures and we are doomed.

Promoters of fad diets often attempt to make us feel inferior and scare us into spending our hard-earned money on yet another gimmick.

Although in the short-term you will see your weight drop when you follow a restrictive diet, the negative consequences it will have on your health and metabolism in the long-term are just not worth it.

Personally, I am tired of the quick fixes and the gimmicks along with the misinformation associated with them.

Over the past several years, I’ve discovered an amazing secret that has helped many people lose weight, keep it off and get fit. Here’s the best part: it doesn’t require you to buy a special diet program and it also doesn’t take all the pleasure out of life (and food).

The secret to successfully losing weight, feeling great and enjoying life while doing it is balance. If you live a balanced lifestyle, which means a combination of eating healthy, exercising, enjoying the occasional treat without feeling guilty and taking a few rest days without beating yourself up, you are more likely to achieve your fitness goals.

Overall, restrictive and/or fad diets suck…and here is why:

1. They are not sustainable for life. Your body needs enough calories from a variety of healthy sources just to survive. You can’t live on grapefruit and lettuce alone and quite honestly-you wouldn’t want to.

2. They deprive you of valuable nutrients. You NEED protein, carbs and fats in your diet to survive. When I say carbs and fats, I don’t mean fast food. I mean unrefined carbohydrates and healthy unsaturated fats.

3. They take the joy out of life. Food is not your enemy. The way you view food when you follow a restrictive fad diet is the real enemy. It’s not healthy to constantly count calories and then beat yourself up if you slip up. It’s also not right to forego social events which involve enjoying food with your friends just because you are afraid to slip up.

4. They can be a drain on your wallet. Do you really think that buying a special diet pill will help you achieve your fitness goals fast? Notice how the label on almost every diet pill says: “For best results combine X, Y, Z with exercise”? Jeez, I wonder why?

5. There can be negative long-term consequences to your health. Since restrictive diets often eliminate important nutrients, you are more likely to experience hormonal imbalances and metabolic damage in the future. Hormonal imbalances can cause a variety of health problems.

I want you to take a moment and ask yourselves: Is short term-gain worth the long-term pain? If your answer is “no”, then I urge you to view fad diets as nothing but a way for their creators to make big profits at your expense.

Creators of fad diets prey on unsuspecting consumers who dream of achieving their fitness goals faster and with minimal effort. I hate to bear the bad news, but the truth is, there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

So, I’m going to keep doing the sport I love, while at the same time enjoying seeing the gradual improvements (and eating the occasional piece of cake, cookie, or burger).

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Above: I give you the “thumbs up” for making it this far in this long article. 🙂

Those who are looking to achieve their fitness goals do not need to eat less than 1200 calories a day, kill themselves for 2 hours in the gym 7 days a week, nor feel like a failure if they have not been able to do the aforementioned due to this thing called “living life”.

What we should be seeking to accomplish is a long-term, gradual lifestyle change without stressing ourselves out if we eat a cookie once in a while.

Moderation and consistency is key, my friends. 🙂

Please pass this on so that more people are reminded that YES, it’s possible to enjoy life, get fit and eat cake in moderation without falling trap to fad diets and “marketers” who don’t actually care about the long-term effects on your health.

 

Top 10 Running Articles of the Month July 2015

Every month, I challenge myself to read as many useful running articles as I can, in order to find the best ones. I hope that this part of my blog will serve as a resource for those of you who are looking for additional training tips, information on running injuries and inspiration.

I am careful with which articles I include on here because I always consider the source. Sometimes, what we read on the Internet can be misleading and I have to keep that in mind when I select my Top 10 Running Articles. Did you read or write a useful article? Send me a link to check it out.

Training Tips

Why You Need a Running Coach by Meghan Kita. The truth is, you don’t need to be an elite runner to work with a running coach. Hiring a professional will help you train smarter, improve your fitness level and reach your goals. Coaches help you take all the guess work out of what you have to do to improve as a runner, so that you can just focus on doing the work required to improve. Their knowledge will help you avoid training mistakes which can lead to a decrease in performance and possible injuries.

Does Knowing Your Splits Help You Run Faster? by Alex Hutchinson. This article discusses the conclusion of a study featuring 8 runners doing a 5k time trial on the treadmill on 3 separate occasions, under 3 different conditions: no splits, feedback after each km, and feedback at all times. The overall conclusion was that when they didn’t know their splits at all, their times were slower because they had no idea how far or how fast they went. This doesn’t mean that you should always run while staring at your GPS watch, however. It’s best to train under a variety of conditions.GPSreading

The Massive Fitness Trend that’s not Actually Healthy at All by Jonathan Angelilli. The idea that you must annihilate your body every time you go to the gym to workout is a recipe for disaster and injuries. It’s very important to gradually increase your intensity through periodization rather than constantly push your body beyond its limits. Recovery is very important and one must learn to understand the difference between training properly and straining. Training properly is healthy and will produce better results than straining, which can cause injuries.

5 Drills to Make you a Better Runner by Meb Keflezighi and Scott Douglas. These drills will help you improve your form as well as prevent injuries, when done properly and consistently. They are relatively simple to do and they will help you strengthen muscles that are important for running, improve your range of motion, as well as improve your brain to muscle connection when you run. Not only that, but they are fun!

Running Injuries and Dealing with Them

Shin Splints: A Simplified Clinical Classification by Dr. Pribut. This article explains what “shin splints” are and what could possibly be causing them. The term “shin splints” is often used very loosely to describe any pain in the lower leg area. Dr. Pribut goes into detail explaining the different kinds of shin splints: medial shin splints and anterior shin splints. He also offers some suggestions on what to do if you are plagued with shin splits.

Strong Hips Relieve Knee Pain by Cindy Kuzma. Studies have shown that exercises which strengthen the hips are more effective for getting rid of knee pain. On the other hand, exercises that only focus on the knee are not as effective at alleviating knee pain. Quote from the article: “British and Australian scientists analyzed 14 previous studies of people with patellofemoral pain, the official name for the ache in the front of the knee that strikes many runners. Participants whose programs included moves to build strength, endurance, and activation in the muscles around the hip had less knee pain and improved joint function when compared with those whose therapy focused on the quadriceps muscles alone.”

Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs by Dr. Pribut. This article discusses the possible causes of plantar fasciitis in runners and other athletes as well as offers some ways to help treat it. In addition, it mentions other possible conditions that plantar fasciitis must be distinguished from in order to ensure that you are treating the right condition. Not all foot/heel pain is plantar fasciitis and that has to be taken into consideration.

Piriformis Syndrome: The Big Mystery or a Pain in the Behind by Dr. Pribut. Piriformis Syndrome is literally a pain in the butt. It’s very difficult to deal with and hard to diagnose, especially because there could be other issues that are causing that pain. Dr. Pribut states that the “symptoms of the piriformis muscle dysfunction may be caused by other clinical entities that include gluteus medius dysfunction, herniated or bulging disks, “sciatica”, pelvic stress fractures and other musculoskeletal problems in this area.”

Inspiration

Alissa St Laurent Wins Canadian Death Race Outright by CBC. Alissa St Laurent wins the Canadian Death Race, which is a 125km ultra-marathon through the Rocky Mountains. She becomes the only woman to beat the entire field in the race’s 15-year history, completing the gruelling course in just under 14 hours. Alissa is a true inspiration and it’s amazing to read about such a great accomplishment. It’s strong and hard-working women like her that should serve as role models to young girls.

Cancer Patient Running 1800 miles from Florida to Washington D.C. by Megan DiTrolio. Two years ago, Brian Thomas was  dying of an aggressive form of skin cancer called Metastatic melanoma. Prior to his diagnosis, Brian was an avid ultra marathon runner, a teacher and a track coach. When Brian first started treatment, he was very weak and could barely walk.  After the treatments started, he miraculously built up his strength. Then, Brian was crawling until he could stand and walk. Later, he started to jog and then run. Eventually, he was running 125 miles a week and was back to running ultra marathons. His 1800 mile run inspires others and gives them hope. Brian is an amazing individual and I wish him all the best.

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