14 Ways To Keep Your 2014 Healthy New Years Resolution

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  1. Write it down. Writing down specfically what you want to accomplish in the next year so that you can look back and it and repeatedly remind yourself is a healthy reminder and great motivation.
  2. Be realistic. A year is a long time, so you can lose a significant amount of weight, but don’t make a goal of looking like Candice Swanaepol, make a goal that works for your body and will still challenge you, but not leave you disappointed.
  3. Set mini deadlines throughout the year. Waiting a year is a long time, especially if you are impatient like me. A way to make yourself feel like you are doing well and sticking with it is setting smaller goals for every month, or quarterly.
  4. Sticky notes and reminders. This is a simple tip that worked for me, but to remind myself of my New Year Resolution, I set random little timers to go off throughout the year on my phone, and put sticky notes in random places that I would find throughout the year once I forgot about them, and it was a great reminder and motivator to keep me going.
  5. List the ways you are going to stick with the goal. Making a list of workouts, foods, healthy habits, etc. that you are going to do throughout the year in order to keep your goal is a great way to not fall off the wagon and build good habits.
  6. Only positive thoughts. Staying positive and not letting negative outside forces get in the way is important. Find some healthy things that make you healthy, and use those to your advantage in reaching your goal. Whatever you do, don’t let inevitable criticism get you down.
  7. Get support. Whether it is your boyfriend, family, roommate, Internet friend, or the homeless man that sleeps on the corner by your work, find someone who will be supportive of your goals and listen to your successes and struggles, and be able to help you through them.
  8. Keep record of progress. For example, if your goal is to lose 30 pounds, take pictures every 5 pounds you lose. If your goal is to be able to run a marathon, keep record of every personal best time/distance you make along the way. It will help when you are feeling a loss in motivation when you can look back and see how far you have come.
  9. Hold yourself accountable. Making excuses and blaming other people or outside forces as to why you can’t get a workout in, eat the right foods, etc., if only going to bring failure. Understand that if you choose to skip a workout or splurge (which is totally fine to do OCCASIONALLY) it is YOUR choice.
  10. Tell others about your resolution. Whether you tell all your friends and family, or start a blog (like me), having others know what your resolution is helps keep you on track, because others are paying attention to your progress as well.
  11. You have to really WANT IT. Make sure that what you are doing is something you are willing to do for the long haul. End of story.
  12. Be prepared to change your daily life. Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain weight, become vegan, or win a bodybuilding competition, these all require you to change your normal everyday life. You are going to have to make a shift to focus on the healthy and positive and it definitely is a transition, be prepared.
  13. Find someone to look up to. Finding a person who has reached the goal you have reached, or just someone you really look up to and respect as a person. Once you have that person (or people), pay attention to what they do that works for them and makes them someone you aspire to be, and keep those in mind when working on your “get healthy resolution”.
  14. ALWAYS get back to your goal. The reason people slip and stop trying after February is because they lose sight of their goals of just plain give up. If you feel like this, it is never too late to turn it around. You don’t need it to be January 1st in order to make goals. Make them any time of year, if you fail, get back up and start over. Do what you HAVE to do and go the extra mile (sometimes literally) in order to reach your goal.

You’ve built up endurance, now what? Get those times down and achieve the ever-coveted PR with these speed workouts :)

Disclaimer: I am not a running coach, nor did I get these workouts from an outside source. These are from experience (4 years of high school cross country workouts, and 2 parents that are certified running coaches).

TRACK REPEATS

In their simplest form, track repeats start with an easy 5-10 minute jogging warm up, the repeat workout, and a 5-10 minute cool down. The goal is to push yourself, but try and stay around the same pace for all the repeats (give or take a few seconds). The different types for a standard track (4 laps = a mile) are explained below:

400s: A 400 refers to one lap around the track. Repeats are usually done by running one lap at a reasonably fast clip, and then resting for 1-2 minutes between each 400. Most 400 workouts are between 8 and 12 repeats, depending on skill level and how you’re feeling. You’ll often see the nomenclature as something like 8x400. This means the runner ran a 400 eight times.

800s: One 800 = 2 laps. These are done as 400s are, but with 2-3 minutes of recovery between each. 4-10 repeats are enough for this longer workout. (Nomenclature: 8x800)

1600s/mile repeats: 1600 repeats, or a mile, is 4 laps on the track. You don’t need to do as many of these, since the distance is quite long (2-6 will do). You will, however, have more recovery time between each repeat (about half the time it took to run the mile). (Nomenclature: 4x1600)

Flying 100s: There are many ways to do this workout, but I’ll recommend my favorite way to fly. Warm up with 10 minutes of light jogging. A 100 is a quarter of one lap (so the distance of one curve or one straight-away). Perform the flying 100s by jogging the curves and then sprinting the straight-aways (or vice-versa). I usually do these for time (15-20 minutes or so) and then cool down with another 5-10 minutes of jogging. Fly on!

Ladders: Ladders are probably my favorite type of repeat because it keeps my body (and mind!) guessing. A typical ladder looks like this: 200-400-800-1600-800-400-200. This means that you would run the repeats in this order, with the appropriate amount of rest in between each. The nice thing about the ladder is that you can modify it to your needs. For example, you could take out the mile, and just run 200-400-800-400-200.

HILL REPEATS

Okay, away from the track now. Hill repeats can be done outside or inside and are a great way to improve your speed on and off any incline!

Outdoors: find a hill in your neighborhood that is not extremely long, but has a considerable incline. Warm up by running to the hill (or jogging on a flat road for 10 or so minutes). Run up the hill at a quick pace, and then recovery by slowly jogging or walking down. Repeat 4-10 times depending on the hill, ability level, or how you’re feeling. Cool down with light jogging.

Treadmill: there are many ways to do a hill workout on a treadmill, but I’ll just give you a basic outline of what I typically do. Warm up with 10 minutes of light jogging. When you are ready, set the incline on the treadmill between 4-10% grade. Run at a good pace for 90 seconds, and then bring the incline back down. Repeat this 4-10 times. Cool down with light jogging without incline. (I usually always have at least a 1% grade on the treadmill to avoid knee injuries).

FARTLEKS

No, this does not mean passing gas to boost you through your run (if only that really worked!) Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play,” and that’s exactly what it is! You can do these just about anywhere – track, treadmill, road, wherever! Whenever you feel like it during a mid-distance run, increase the speed for your desired distance/time. Then come back to the pace you were before. You can do this as many times as you want, and you can mix up the distance/time for each fartlek! Have fun with it, and do as your body/mind pleases!

TEMPO RUNS

Ah, yes. The dreaded tempo run. These were by far my least favorite workout in high school, but man do they work wonders on your speed! Warm up with light jogging for about 10 minutes. Then complete the tempo portion by running at a slightly uncomfortable pace for 10-25 minutes depending on ability level. This pace should be faster, and you shouldn’t be able to hold a conversation during it, but you should be able to hold the pace for the duration of the run (may take some experimenting to find that right pace, just listen to your body). Cool down with 10 minutes of light jogging or walking.

A final note: these workouts are meant to be hard, and if performed right, will hurt like hell. The key is to listen to your body. If something is extremely painful or you feel weak or dizzy – STOP. You want to be in discomfort, not total pain. As always, be sure to take rest days; they are just as important as any workout. Stay hydrated, and try to smile! :)

Good luck! May your feet be light, and your heart full xx

JoEllen [kickin-asphalt]

If anyone would like to add to these workouts, feel free to message me and I’ll edit it into the post with credit!

Three Simple Ways to Improve Running Efficiency

Get Strong. It’s not uncommon for runners to acquire muscle imbalances that create more work for the body when we ask it to run or move (inefficiency). In fact, even runners that strength-train regularly can fall victim to muscle weakness if they’re not addressing the imbalances directly.

For example, prolonged sitting can cause the glute medius on both sides to weaken or shut off, causing instability and lateral shifting in the hips. This weakness hinders your running form via wasted lateral movement and can also cause overuse injuries like Iliotibial Syndrome and other issues down the chain. 

The key is to not only include the typical functional multi-joint exercises for runners (squats, lunges), but to also include the more simple exercises (like the clam) that might not seem like they’re doing much but are helping you activate and strengthen a weak, inactive muscle. Here is a list of exercises that will help balance your body strength and better stabilize to run more efficiently with less wear and tear. 

  • Planks (standard, mountain climbers, side plank raises)
  • Squats (single and double leg)
  • Lunges
  • Clams
  • Push Ups
  • Row with resistance tube or weight
  • The Bridge (with both feet on the ground or single leg)

You can also find the IronStrength Workout for runners here or download my free Strength Workout for Runners for your smart phone here.

Get your power on. Adding plyometrics into your regular routine will boost strength and speed by improving the elasticity of the muscle via the stretch-shortening cycle. That is, when the muscle is stretched before an explosive contraction, like bending through the knee before a single leg jump, it contracts more powerfully and quickly.

Because these exercises are explosive in nature, it is best to weave them into your program after you have established a solid base of strength-training, once per week, and in rotation with your strength-training program. Perform these exercises after your runs to focus on good form, as performing plyometrics with sloppy form can quickly lead to injury. Here are three plyometric exercises for runners. By the way, plyometrics are a little like child’s play once you get the hang of it.

  1. Power skips: Keeping your arms in running form, skip for a total of 20 on each leg, focusing on landing lightly on the balls of your feet and increasing the height of each skip.
  2. Leg bounding: With an exaggerated running form, bound forward by jumping with each stride, focusing on an exaggerated knee lift for 20 seconds.   Walk back to recover and repeat 2-3 times.
  3. Squat jumps: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend into squat position with your hips back and knees bent. Tap the floor with your hands and jump up reaching your hands to straight over your head. Bend your knees as you land, touch the ground again, and repeat for 20 seconds. 


Improve your stride rate. Your stride rate is simply the number of steps you take in a minute. To find it, count the number of strides on one foot for one minute and double it. The goal is to have a stride rate of around 180, or 90 per foot. If it’s much less (170) than that, it likely means you’re creating more vertical energy (oscillation), projecting more upward motion than forward, and you guessed it, wasting energy. It also means you’re employing braking forces with every stride rather than rolling quickly over the ground. The key is to practice patience while increasing your stride rate and decreasing the time you spend on the ground. 

To improve your stride rate, you can run to a music mix at 180 bpm, invest in a metronome (musician’s timing device), or add the following drill to the beginning or end of your runs (it makes a great active warmup). Although this drill (and running with a faster cadence) may feel awkward at first, that just means you’re creating new neuromuscular patterns that will soon start to feel more natural. It’s important to note that when running to music or a metronome, it’s best to focus on taking shorter strides and increasing the cadence gradually. If your stride rate is 170, for example, you could set it to 174 and progress slowly from there.

Striders: On a flat straightaway, start running with short, quick strides. Gradually increase the length of your stride while maintaining quick turnover for 30 seconds. Slow down gradually, walk back to the start, and repeat a total of four to six times.

It’s important to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and optimal running efficiency isn’t, either. The good news is a little time invested with these exercises can make a significant difference in your running performance down the road.  

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/three-simple-ways-to-improve-running-efficiency

Training to Up Your Mileage.

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Back when I first started running, I couldn’t even run a mile without feeling like I was going to just keel over and die. Like, seriously leave me on the street to die because I refuse to run 50 more yards. It’s not happening, home slice. But I kept running for the same reason a lot of people do: to get in shape. 

Somewhere down the line I had this really good run, and I experienced for the first time, the famously life-changing runner’s high. I was hooked. And now, here I am. And accomplished marathon runner who frequents in races and actually enjoys running. 

But upping my mileage wasn’t easy for me. I started out maybe doing 4-5 miles a week, now I run on average between 20-30 miles a week. There are various steps you can take to actually upping your weekly mileage, and here are some of the things I did to help myself become the runner I am today.

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Tips for making a long run more bearable:

  • Think in minutes not miles - I don’t know why this works for me, but I can more easily head out for say a x minute run vs. x amount of miles.
  • DONT GO FAST - I know this is the the most common piece of advice, but just ENJOY your long run - this is the day you just get to run and run and run and not get tired - so just enjoy that feeling!
  • Run with a partner - lets face it- long runs alone can get boring - take someone to run along with you and chat about life, running - anything, its so much easier to pass the time.
  • Run a new route - preferably one that has lots to look at, use it as a free exploration and enjoy the view.
  • Plan a nice treat when you get home - a long bath, a nice dinner - something to think about!
  • Think about the race - when your starting to wane think about WHY you are doing what you are doing and focus on that race day!
  • Take water and energy gels - I know this is pretty obvious - but god if you forget your water it could be so dangerous!
Writing Empathetically vs. Sympathetically and Sentimentally

Several weeks ago, I read a story that had a passage like this:

"My parents never really cared about me," Allie said. "All my life they saw me as a disappointment, a waste of space. I was always the butt of their jokes. And no one really noticed. I was always last place, as far as they were concerned. I had a really difficult childhood…"

And it went on like this for about a paragraph or two.

I could see that the writer wanted to foster sympathy for the character, wanted to explain how the character felt about her upbringing.

But ultimately, it made her sound whiny—and I could tell that wasn’t what the author intended.

At first I was a little sympathetic to the character…then after several sentences, the writing just felt sentimental to me, meaning, I felt like the writer was trying to coax me to feel a certain way, like I was being controlled, rather than letting me feel for the situation myself. 

It’s a good idea to want your readers to connect with your characters’ hardships, but it can backfire if it’s too sentimental or sometimes even when it’s sympathetic.

Instead, when you want to impact the reader, strive to create empathy.

Usually when I hear empathy, I think of someone who is in pain, going through a lot of difficulty, but really, it’s a level of deep understanding—whether that’s an understanding of fear, bravery, or obsession.

Here are two examples to illustrate empathetic writing.


In The Maze Runner, I got to a scene where James Dashner wanted to show that his main character, Thomas, was a hero with a good heart—but I could only tell because I’m not just a reader, I’m also a writer. He didn’t write about it sympathetically or sentimentally, he created empathy simply by putting us in Thomas’s head and showing us what he did in a given situation.

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100+ Running Tips: Number 81: Make it count(down).


Starting running or training for a marathon? Tips and help:

1. Count your miles down

2. Run with your face

3. Get in a quickie

4. Improve your treadmill runs

5. Embrace the sweat

6. Breathe deep

7. Form first, then fast

8. Keep your head

9. Bad runs don’t mean you’re a bad runner

10. Start smart, go longer

Get more running tips and training advice

How To: Prepare For A 1/2 Marathon!

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Making a plan for running in a ½ marathon is important so that you know what you are getting yourself into and so that you can be realistic and prepared with your goals. Here is how I prepare for my half marathons!

  1. Make a schedule of your normal week: Don’t include your workouts or runs in this schedule. Creating a calendar of when you typically work, have school, etc. will help you show where you have gaps for scheduled running times.
  2. Decide how many days a week you want to run: You have to be realistic. Don’t say you are going to run 7 days a week, because you probably won’t and probably shouldn’t. You need rest days for your body to recover. I recommend doing 4 days a week of running, and 1 day a week of strength training, yoga, or pilates. However, it is all going to depend on what fits into your schedule.
  3. Make your long run at the end of the week: Since you are trying to progress and add on miles each week, make your long run at the end of the week to see your improvement and distance increase. (Tip: In addition, try making the day after the distance run a recovery day.)
  4. Don’t JUST distance run: While only do long runs would help build your stamina, adding in HIIT (high intensity interval training) runs, as well as fast paced short runs (2-4 miles), you will be increasing your stamina faster, helping you prepare for the longer slow-paced runs.
  5. Know your races course: If the race you are signed up for is a trail run, or has a lot of inclines, you need to be prepared to train on a similar surface. Running 13.1 miles on a trail is not the equivalent to running 13.1 miles on pavement.
  6. Set time and distance goals: For each week, set a goal of times and distances you want to reach to build up to the race. I, personally, only set goals for my long run at the end of the week, but you can do it for shorter runs and HIIT runs as well.
  7. Invest in clothes: When running turns into an almost daily thing, you need to have good running clothes and, more importantly, good running shoes. My favorites are listed HERE.
  8. Invest in technology: Getting apps, watches, etc. to help you track your running progress are really helpful to see how you are doing. Using apps like MapMyRun are great for making maps prior to your run, and investing in a running watch that tracks your heart rate, time, and distance are even better.
  9. Look at training schedule examples that fit you: Don’t look at running schedules for advanced runners if you haven’t ran in two months. Look at the ones that are perfect for you! Here are examples of training schedules for: beginners, average, advanced, and competitive.

Here is my running schedule just so that you guys can see. I’m running a half marathon on October 13, so this will be what I am doing for the month leading up to it.

Runners have a creed similar to the Postman, ” Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”. No matter the weather, we get out there and run. This is especially true if you’re training for a marathon. I knew it was gonna be a hot day, so I took steps to take advantage of my scheduled 6.25 mile run. So here are

Tips for Running in the Heat

  1. Run early morning or late evening - This is when the sun rays won’t be strong and the temps will be cooler.
  2. Hydrate before, during and after your run - This is important. You want to ensure that you are replacing fluids lost during sweat. If you’re running for more than 40 minutes, include a sports drink to replace electrolytes.
  3. Run on trails or shaded areas - Dirt trails hold far less heat than concrete or asphalt surfaces. They also tend to be shaded which means that it will be cooler.
  4. Reduce your running speed - It’s important to manage your body temp. so that you don’t overheat. I was scheduled to run intervals at race pace this morning and slowed down as soon as I realized that my body was rising too quickly. I didn’t want to get exhausted and cut my run short.
  5. Wear cool, light colored, loose clothing - Dark colored clothing absorbs heat so make sure you wear light colored moisture wicking clothing that will help keep you cool.
  6. Wear sunscreen/sunblock - This helps protect your skin from sun damage. Use a product of at least SPF30 and ensure that you use it on all exposed areas.
  7. Wear sunglasses & a hat/visor - This helps protect your eyes and skin from too much sun exposure. Some hats & visors have an internal headband that can help soak up sweat.
  8. Carry your cell phone in case of emergency - This is a must during any run. You never want to be stranded somewhere. I once got super dehydrated during a run a couple years ago and thankfully I had my phone so that I could call my husband.

Happy Running! Please feel free to share:)

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