Category Archives: Fitness Tips and Techniques

Useful hints and tips for effective fitness training, workouts, motivation, or other related issues.

Getting Back Into Running After Time Off

Okay, my prolonged absence from personal fitness and the running world in general is a little more than “a little time off,” but the same principles apply. Let’s review. I’ve always been an avid fitness junkie, but then married into a toxic environment and gained over 100 pounds. Yes, you read that right — OVER A HUNDRED POUNDS. Yikes. So then I got divorced, then remarried, got back into fitness and started fixing that problem. Then had a baby. And another baby. Before you know it, I’m back to about 70 pounds above my goal weight.

So here I am, the 27-year-old mother of three who is, like a shocking number of women, totally unhappy with her physical fitness. After brief improvement followed by pregnancy, I can’t even jog slowly to the next block without feeling the burn. It’s truly square one for me. This is where we restart the journey that is this running journal.

One big tip for restarting…

The biggest thing I can say when you’re getting back into regular exercise and getting into shape is don’t expect too much of your body. At one time, I could take off cold and run for five miles. Now I warm up thoroughly and am short of breath within about 1/8 mile. Feel out what your body wants to do today, and push just barely beyond that. Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about the exercise you want to do to make sure there are no major health concerns first.

Finding your way off the couch

Alright, so here we are getting started. Obviously, the biggest thing is to hydrate, eat healthy (note: this does NOT mean crash dieting…if you’re not sure what it means, let me know and I’ll do some food posts), and start off steady. If you push too hard too fast, you’re just going to end up sore and you’re not going to want to exercise.

Want to join me? Have you been doing anything up to this point? No? Go walk around the block, then come back and read more. I’ll wait. Don’t want to even get up and go outside? Try this, it’s even available for download right now:


Are you back? There’s your start. If you feel like you can’t even walk around the block once a day, walk in place beside your desk for five minutes. Try to take the stairs a little faster. Park a few more spaces away from the door.

My plan — first, I need to find the key to my treadmill. Wyoming has had a nasty winter this year, but I’ve been blessed with an office and jewelry studio space. This means that I can walk or run on the treadmill even in the dead of night without bothering anyone — at least once I find out what the kids did with the key. Happy exercising, and feel free to let me know how you’re doing.

What is yoga, and how does it help running?

I’m baaack! No, it’s not like the ghost of Christmas past, or some plastic zombie from an 80s horror show. I regret that I’ve abandoned you, my fellow running enthusiasts, for so long. In my defense, it had to do with serial pregnancies, huge life changes, getting a new dog, and learning skydiving through trial and error.

…Okay, maybe not that last part. But we’ve all had parts of life that feel like that.

All that said, I’m finally back in the swing of things. The last Wyoming snows (at this elevation, anyway) stopped falling just over a week ago, and it’s nearly Memorial Day. I’ve been back to concentrated workouts for about 10 months, and decided it’s time to get my mind and rear end back into running.

So…where does yoga come in?

I will say that I’ve become virtually obsessed with yoga since last I posted. Absolutely love the stuff. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot more yoga coming out, and I’m actually in the process of finding some great resources for yoga specifically tailored to runners. In fact, I did find this one, which teaches a lot of the same things I’ve learned from an in-person teacher over the last several months, but for a LOT cheaper. Despite a bad left hip, I’ve seen drastic improvements in my running ability, thanks in large part to the additional challenges yoga offers.

Before I get into that too much, I figured I better stop for a second to explain a bit about what yoga actually is. This might seem silly, because I don’t know anyone in the connected world who hasn’t at least heard about it, and yoga is one of the oldest and fastest-growing fitness trends on the planet.

Beliefs I’ve encountered about yoga

Ever since I started yoga, I’ve had all sorts of responses about it. The biggest is, “Well, I like all but the spiritual side of it.” On the extreme side, it’s, “Sure you get fit, but you’re opening your mind to the devil.” Seriously. I’ve gotten these responses, and more than once.

If you truly believe that I’ve become a devil worshiper, then feel free to sign off and find a new running journal now. For anyone who has just realized that they don’t know much about yoga, read on.

Top goals in yoga

Okay, it’s true that people from all different belief systems use yoga, and that it’s often used to assist meditation. That said, there’s nothing inherently religious about the practice itself. It’s spiritual inasmuch as you might hear something different when you get your brain to shut up, but that’s not an essential part of the experience.

Basically, yoga works on teaching your mind and your body to play nice with each other. Have you ever thought, “Yes!! I am going to jump this ditch, run uphill 10 miles, and then go for a swim across heavy currents!” Then you get halfway to the corner of your own block, and your body says something along the lines of, “Haha. Yeah, right.” Sound familiar? The scenario doesn’t have to be exactly identical.

At any rate – yoga works on helping raise your body awareness so you know exactly what you’re doing, and what you can do. The various poses (asanas) and stages of poses help you discover where you are now. It then encourages you to relax and stretch just a little more, and hold the stretch just a little bit longer. Before you know it, your posture is better, your range of motion is better, and your muscles are all toned.

How can yoga benefit runners?

Obviously, having a stronger body is always a plus in running. That’s one. Runners also often suffer from a loss of range in motion, because you end up spending so much time on that one exercise that other fitness activities kind of get kicked to the outskirts. Finally, a huge number of injuries occur in and around the knee joint.

Yoga helps strengthen the muscles that surround and support your knees and ankles, reducing your risk of injury. The better coordination yoga offers helps ensure you won’t trip over as much (assuming you run in the daytime and with your eyes open) or can catch yourself better when you do fall. It increases your versatility on varying terrains for the same reason.

Finally, you have to learn to empty your mind in order to do well in yoga. This is also usually what it takes to get to your second wind, and get past the various stages of lactic acid burn during your run. Overall, you just have a lot better running experience.

So yeah, if you’ve never tried yoga before and don’t want to go to a teacher, try this program to get a head start. It gives you a lot more instruction on proper form than videos do, and it’s developed expressly for people who want to improve running.

Running vs Walking to Lose Weight

When you start a new exercise program, a few workout buddies can make all the difference in the world. As humans, we all love to socialize and the same is true when it comes to exercise. The time goes by a little faster, the physical work is a little less tedious, and you have more motivation when you exercise with other people. This is why many women like to run with a running club.

Besides offering a social element, running programs can help you meet your fitness goals. Your fellow runners can offer you encouragement, tips, and support when you are trying to meet your goals. With the help of others, you will be able to achieve any running goal you set for yourself. Running clubs can also connect you with people who have similar interests and experiences in addition to a love for running.

Finding a Running Club

The first step to finding some local running programs is to look on the internet. There are many sites that will give you a list of all the running clubs in your area. Some running clubs even have their own websites where you can learn more about the program. These running clubs may only list meet-up times and give minimal information. Before you show up for the run, be sure that the running club meets your needs.

Running level

Consider your running level before joining any running club. If you are an advanced runner, it doesn’t make sense to run with beginners. You will want to push yourself and the best way to do this is to run with people who are at your level or even more experienced. Your running partners can give you helpful tips and also encourage you to run harder and faster.

Terrain

Some running programs may focus on a certain type of terrain such as: mountain, wilderness, urban, or track running. What type of running do you like to do? If terrain will make a difference, then be sure to investigate whether the running club is specialized for a certain type of terrain.

Formal/Informal

Formal running clubs often have structured leadership team including coaches, event directors, and club directors. These formals clubs may also be sponsored by a national organization such as the Road Runners Club of America. Some runners may not feel comfortable with this type of formal structure. If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, then you should choose a group that is more casual and informal.

No matter your running level, interests, or preferences, if you have struggled to stay motivated in the past then running clubs could help. One of the biggest reasons women fail at achieving their fitness goals is that they don’t feel inspired or encouraged. Does this sound like you? The last thing you need is just another fitness failure. Find a running club that works for you and start running with your new friends. When you see the results, you’ll be happy you joined a running club.

How Effective is Running for Weight Loss?

If you are struggling to see results with your current exercise program, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Many women don’t see results from yoga, aerobics, or calisthenics. It can be very disheartening when you aren’t losing weight quickly enough, but don’t give up. There is still a chance for you to achieve the results you want. If you want to lose more weight in a shorter time period, then you may want to try running for weight loss.

For some women, running can help get rid of those stubborn pounds that otherwise just won’t come off. A running routine can give you the jumpstart you need to get motivated and lose weight. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that there is no “silver bullet” for weight loss. Our bodies are all different and thus different exercise solutions may work better or worse depending on the individual. You can lose weight running, but always listen to your body and choose exercise options that make sense for you.

Why does it work?

Running for weight loss works efficiently because it burns more calories than walking or jogging. You can expect to see results more quickly, but remember to be patient. Just remember, if you expect running to work miracles for your body, then you are only setting yourself up for failure. All weight loss takes some time and you will need to have a little patience to make it happen. If you work hard and maintain your workout schedule, then you will most likely lose weight running.

Another reason that you will lose weight running is that your body changes when you start running. You may notice that your eating habits will start to change once you start running. Your body needs to work more efficiently, so eating that bag of chips just won’t seem so appealing anymore. The combination of exercise and change in diet will definitely give your weight loss a push in the right direction.

When you are running for weight loss, longer, slower runs are best because this burns more calories than quick, short runs. Research has proven that in order to lose weight and keep the weight off, longer, slower runs are the way to go. Running at a steady pace for 30-40 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week can be much for effective than a few sporadic and exhausting runs.

When it comes to running for weight loss, the most important element is your own desire to improve your health. If you’re having trouble getting motivated, just think of all the health benefits running offers:

  • Decreases your chance of cancer
  • Runners live longer than non-runners
  • Helps build muscle
  • Natural stress relief
  • Lose weight quickly

Without a genuine desire to get healthy, you won’t succeed in your running program, but with a strong desire and some hard work, you will certainly lose weight running. Are you ready to get healthy and lose weight? Start your running routine today!

Jogging to Lose Weight: What to Consider Before You Start

Are you looking to lose weight? Running is a simple method of exercise that you can implement with no equipment or gym membership. For someone who has never tried beginner running, jogging could be an effective way to work your way toward running on a regular basis. Jogging to lose weight has many advantages. Even if you ultimately want to start running, consider the benefits of jogging as an introductory exercise.

Jogging is simply a slower, gentler version of running, so if you don’t feel that you are in good enough physical shape to run, why not start with jogging to lose weight?

Advantages to Jogging

You may not realize that jogging has many health benefits. The main benefit of jogging to lose weight is that is easier on your knees and lower body. If you are not careful, beginner running can result in injury and long-term negative health effects. Research has also shown that jogging can help you sleep better, elevate your mood, decrease the risk of diabetes and cancer, and treat high blood pressure. Of course, one of the most attractive advantages to jogging is that it will help you lose weight!

Interval Exercise

Interval training has been proven to help people lose weight faster. Interval training simply means intense bursts of exercise followed by more low-intensity exercise. Walk for a few minutes and then jog for a few minutes. When you are ready to start running then you can alternate jogging and running. This method of exercise will help you burn more calories and lose more weight.

Tips

Remember that if you are jogging to lose weight, you have to combine a healthy, low-calorie diet with your exercise plan. Try to eat more fresh food and avoid food with preservatives and chemical additives. These foods will help you lose weight as well as help you have more energy to exercise. Overly-processed foods are difficult for your body to turn into energy. This will slow you down during your jog. Once you are ready to start beginner running, you’ll be happy that you changed your diet, because you will have the energy and power behind your exercise routine.

Guidelines

Before you begin any exercise of diet program, be sure to check with your family doctor. Especially if you are very overweight or have not exercised in long time, it is crucial that you check with a medical professional to understand if jogging to lose weight is right for you. Only your doctor can tell you what is best for your body.

If you haven’t been active for a few years, jogging can be a great transition to beginner running. You will be surprised at how quickly the weight will come off once you start exercising regularly. When you start out jogging, running will probably begin to come naturally over time. Let your body lead the way. When you are ready to push yourself and move to the next step, your body will let you know.

How to Develop a 5K Training Schedule

Sticking to a regular exercise routine can be difficult if you don’t have a plan. The key to maintaining your exercise schedule is to make realistic goals that you know you can achieve. Many women choose to train for a 5K because this is an attainable goal that can be reached with just a little training and hard work. Developing a 5k training schedule can help you lose weight, get in shape, and also feel good about yourself. If you are ready to go from couch potato to 5k you will need to follow a few running guidelines.

The Right Shoes

Perhaps this isn’t your first time training. If you have struggled with running in the past, you may have been wearing the wrong shoes. Inappropriate or ill-fitting footwear can ruin any attempt at developing a 5k training schedule. If you experienced pain or pronation (rotational movement) in your feet, then you probably did not have the right running shoes.

When you run, it is common for your feet to swell up to half a size larger than your normal shoe size. When buying running shoes, you may want to consider trying a slightly larger pair to account for this swelling. A properly-fitting running shoe should allow you to wiggle your toes, but also provide plenty of heel support. With the right pair of shoes, you will transform yourself from a couch potato to a 5k athlete.

The Right Form

Now that you are ready to actually start your 5K running schedule, it is important that you do so correctly. Poor running form can cause injuries, which could be a serious hindrance to your running routine. Try to push off the ground with as much force as possible and be sure to straighten your neck and back. Keep your shoulders low and loose. Some people naturally have the right running form, but if not, simply try to focus on maintaining a balanced posture.

Set Realistic Goals

Of course your ultimate goal is to run a 5k, but you will need to set realistic benchmark goals along the way. If you are totally new to running, you can try alternating walking and running when you first start training. Run for one minute and then walk for one minute. You can continue to train like this until you feel comfortable just running. Start with three days a week and gradually work your way up to five days a week. Make sure each workout includes a warm-up and a cool-down.

Start Training and Stay Motivated

Once you start your 5K training schedule, it is important to stay motivated. Whatever motivation you choose, make sure to focus on that idea when you train. If weight loss if your motivation, then think about how good you’ll feel when you are in good physical shape. If your motivation is endurance and strength, then focus on these positive benefits while you run. It’s possible for anyone to go from couch potato to 5k if they work hard and train on a regular basis.

Developing a Beginner’s Running Schedule

If you have made the decision to start running, you’re already well on your way to a healthier lifestyle. Running is simple and effective; almost anyone can follow a beginner’s running schedule. Developing a running schedule is fairly simple, but once you have made the commitment, you have to stick with it. Try to be realistic about your schedule and this will help you to create an attainable routine. If you have patience and work hard, you can succeed in your beginner running schedule.

Getting Started

Before you get started with a beginner running schedule be sure to consult your family doctor. You can also avoid potential health problems by drinking plenty of water before and after your run.

After you check with your doctor, you will need to determine is what days/times work best for you to run. Some women like to run in the morning before work, but others prefer running in the afternoon or evening. Choose the time that you will be most motivated to run.  If you think you’ll be too tired in the evening, it is best to run in the morning.

Start out slowly. When starting a beginner running schedule, you should run at a comfortable pace. You can try running for three or four days a week. Be sure to warm up with a five minute walk and don’t forget to stretch. Run for ten minutes at a time if you can. If you struggle to run for ten minutes, try alternating walking and running. If you can run for a longer length of time, you should certainly do so. Record your running time each day.

When you work on developing a beginner’s running schedule you should consider flexibility and adaptability. Make changes to meet your fitness needs. Consult your run times from the previous week and try to run for a little longer each day. If possible run for 20 minutes at a time. You can continue to alternate walking and running if you must, but your end goal is to run continuously.  You should get stronger every day and begin to see improvement. As you continue to train, you will get faster and stronger each day.

Keep it Going

Of course, remember that running should be enjoyable. If you don’t love to run, there are plenty of other exercise options for you to choose. Don’t focus too hard on your physical exertion. Take the time to look around and enjoy the scenery.  If you don’t learn to take pleasure in your exercise program, you will never succeed.

Whatever your reason for running, you have to stay motivated if you want to make running a part of your long-term physical fitness plan. Don’t get discouraged if you miss a few days. Keep your goals in mind and try again. No one is perfect. Developing a beginner’s running schedule that is based on your own goals and ambitions can help you remain motivated and meet your goals.

What Knee Pain After Running Might be Trying to Tell You

It is quite common for both beginner and advanced runners to feel knee pain after running, but what does this mean? It is always important to pay close attention to your body, but it is especially important when you are an athlete. Pain is your body’s way of trying to tell you something.  Knee pain or knee popping accompanied by sharp knee pain could be a sign of serious health concerns.

If you have been experiencing knee pain, it is crucial for you to stop your running routine and identify the root cause of the pain or knee popping. Here is an overview of some common reasons why runners experience knee pain:

Injury. Unfortunately knee pain after running or knee popping could be a sign of injury. The pain could be an indication that you have injured the ligaments or joints in the knee. Knee pain could also be caused by a previous injury that may have been exacerbated by running. Injuries could be very serious such as knee dislocation or something minor like runner’s knee.

Weight. Many people turn to running to lose weight, but overweight individuals put extra stress on their knees when running. Additional pressure on your joints is bad for your body and can certainly lead to knee pain. Overweight individuals may need to try walking or jogging in order to put less stress on the knees.

Shoes. The right pair of supportive footwear is incredibly important to pain-free running. Athletes who wear inappropriate shoes when running will probably experience knee pain after running.

Terrain. Some running surfaces are harder to run on than others. If you prefer to run outdoors on hard surfaces like concrete, it is likely that you will have knee pain. Consider running on a rubber track or running indoors on a treadmill.

Diet. Eating a healthy diet can help contribute to joint health which is crucial to running with pain. If you aren’t eating correctly, you may notice knee popping followed by sharp knee pain. This is a sign of poor joint health. Eating foods like calcium-rich food and leafy vegetables will give you the nutrients you need to keep your joints healthy.

There are many different causes for knee pain after running; this is not an exhaustive list. If you suspect you have a serious injury, be sure to check with your doctor. Do not continue running if you are experiencing knee pain. Stop running and identify the root cause.

After you have found the cause (and treated it) you can resume your running schedule. If you still experience periodic knee pain, you can easily treat the pain with hot or cold packs and over-the-counter pain relief. The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body. When your body is in pain, this is an urgent message that you must listen to.

Although it can be discouraging to experience sharp knee pain after running, you can’t let a little knee pain get in the way of achieving your fitness goals. With some patience and hard work, you will be able to overcome this challenge.

How to Track Runs with a Running GPS

As fitness technology gets better each year, women want to have the ability to track data and easily access historical running information. Whether you run for fitness, pleasure, or to fulfill your competitive spirit, running GPS tools could add a new dimension to those daily runs. With new advances in technology you can easily track runs with running GPS.

Benefits to Running GPS

Advanced and beginner runners often want to know information such as: time, distance, and route. As you progress, you will probably want to compare this data over time. How many miles did you run last week? How long did it take you? These are all questions that can be easily answered using a running GPS system.

You can track runs quite conveniently by using one of these systems. Running GPS units are now available as watches, phone apps, or as a unit that can be clipped to your shoes or clothing. This makes running GPS easy and convenient to use.

In addition to being able to track run mileage and distance, running GPS systems can also track heart rate, altitude, elevation, longitude, and latitude. With all of these tools, you will certainly feel accomplished and ready to run more and more each day.

Ready to Track your Runs?

Now that you understand some of the advantages of using GPS, you can start running. The first thing you will need to do is determine how you would like to use your GPS. Since it has so many functions, it is important to select the functions that work best for you. The best way to do this is by matching your goals with a function that can measure the success of that goal.

For example, if your goal is to run 5 miles each day, use the running GPS to help you track mileage. You can start with 2-3 miles and then work your way up to 5 from there. Add more distance when you feel comfortable doing so. If you want to improve your endurance, you can use the GPS to try to beat a certain pace. Each day, you can try to run at a certain speed. When you feel you are ready, you can gradually increase the distance. If you are just starting out, you may want to simply run for a certain amount of time each day, using the GPS to track your time and distance.

Remember that you should always check with your doctor before starting any new fitness routine. Only your doctor can help you plan fitness goals that are right for you. If you are serious about exercise, running GPS systems are right for you. Solid data can help to improve your performance and help you meet your fitness goals. Sometimes, all we need is a little push in order to move on to the next fitness level. The ability to track runs makes keeping up with your data easy, fun, and convenient.

How to Alleviate Knee Pain from Running

You finally have some momentum behind your running program. Each day you run more and more. Each day it gets a little easier to find your rhythm. You feel invincible, unstoppable, and motivated. Then, seemingly out of nowhere BAM—knee pain. This can be devastating for serious athletes. If you can treat the symptoms and identify the causes of knee pain, you can get back into your running schedule with very little interruption.

As you increase your speed and distance, you may start to have knee pain from running. This could come in the form of pain in the actual kneecap and around the knee area. Your knees are sore and stiff, and sometimes pop when bending. You struggle to run downhill or even go down stairs. Sound familiar?
For some reason, your knee has moved out of its track, causing this pain. With each step, your cartilage breaks down. When you think of how many steps runners take each day, you can see how painful this can become. Runner’s knee could also be caused by foot instability. Without proper support, your feet could either be pronating (rotating your foot) or supinating (turning out). This can cause severe knee pain from running.

Knee pain from running can be quite frustrating, and some runners may even give up on their program entirely if they don’t find knee pain relief. You have worked so hard to meet your goals; there is no reason to give up now just because you are experiencing pain. Many more advanced runners suffer from a condition commonly called “runner’s knee”. The good news is this condition is easily treated.

If you are looking for knee pain relief, the solution for runner’s knee is fairly straightforward. First you will need to treat the pain. Use ice or cold packs to numb the pain of your running injury. You can also take some over-the-counter pain relief such as ibuprofen or aspirin.

Now that you have treated the symptoms, it’s time to address the actual cause. Make sure your running form is correct. Good posture during your run can go a long way. If you notice you have poor running for, correcting this could help bring you some knee pain relief. The right shoes are also crucial to relieving pain from running. You must have shoes that offer you support to stabilize your feet. You may even need to buy special support or orthotics for your feet.

Don’t let knee pain ruin all your hard work. Your effort does not have to be wasted. As soon as you start to feel knee pain, stop running. Take the time to identify the causes of your knee pain, and don’t push your body too hard. Pain is a message your body is trying to tell you. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you keep running on a sore knee, you may risk further injury. Knee pain relief can be very straightforward if you simply take the time to understand what’s going on with your body. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be running again in no time.