Category Archives: Running

RUNNER’S GUIDE: 8 Tips for Road Runners

While one of my pet peeves is when a walker walks in the middle of the road, when there is a nice sidewalk right there, I have to admit I like running on asphalt over concrete. As I was running yesterday, I wondered if running on asphalt was actually softer and better for you. I decided to do some research when I got back home.

Asphalt vs Concrete

road runners tipsAfter doing some digging, I couldn’t really find any firm evidence asphalt is better for your body (there were mixed reviews and conflicts in opinions on the topic), however, I did find evidence it is indeed softer. According to my research, concrete is approximately 10 times harder than asphalt. These surfaces are measured by pounds per square inch (psi). Asphalt can be around 400-600psi and concrete can be anywhere from 3,000-4000psi for sidewalks to 8000-10000 for airport runways. Even though I found mix reviews on the impact these surfaces have on the body, I personally believe softer is better – and if nothing else, it’s more comfortable for me to run on them.

The next issue is how to run on the asphalt safely, without irritating drivers or getting run over. If you are like me, you’ve probably complained about people on the road. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Steve say “there’s a sidewalk right there you moron”. What he really means is “I almost hit you and you scared me to death and I really wish you’d use the sidewalk so you will be safe”. However, after the guy flips you off for coming too close to him when he was running in front of the sunrise, in a blind spot, wearing all black and taking up his half of the road, “what a moron” comes out of his mouth first.

So, here are a few tips to keep you running safe, and keep everyone’s middle finger in control.

8 Safety Tips for Road Runners

sidewalk1. Know that you are SUPPOSED to run on the sidewalk. Even if you choose not too, please know it is the law (at least it is here). While Florida law prohibits running on the road if there is a sidewalk nearby, I haven’t heard of anyone getting a ticket for that (YET). However, there are also laws for pedestrians to follow when sidewalks are not available. It would be smart for runners to follow these laws (since they are made for our own safety and were probably pretty well thought out) so you are as safe as possible if you choose to not run on the sidewalk. Tips #2 & #3 address those laws.

Running Tips & Laws2. Run on the RIGHT side of the shoulder (to the right of traffic). The law says the first choice (if there are no sidewalks) is to run on the RIGHT of the SHOULDER. (Note, I don’t believe an extra 4 inches of asphalt constitutes a shoulder. The Federal Highway Administration defines a shoulder as “the portion of the roadway contiguous with the traveled way for accommodation of stopped vehicles for emergency use”. This means a true shoulder should be big enough to pull over safely on. I would have to ask an officer if we should run on a 6 inch piece of asphalt to really know, however, if my body can’t fit on the shoulder without crossing the line, I doubt very seriously they want you on it.) Please realize this is NOT saying to run on the right side of the road. Pedestrians should travel on the the FAR RIGHT of the shoulder OFF the road and not in the lane at all. Run to RIGHT of cars, to the RIGHT of the white line and the RIGHT of the shoulder. Got it? Good!

running facing traffic3. Run on the LEFT side of the road (facing traffic). If there is no shoulder, like in most cases around my neighborhood, then pedestrians should run on the LEFT side of the road. So, if you are running in a neighborhood, a country two-lane road or on a long drive, you should always be on the LEFT side of the LEFT lane going against traffic. Don’t think pedestrians have the right-of-way. They DON’T. The ONLY time you have the right-of-way is when you are using a crosswalk. And if a car comes close to you, don’t glare at them like they are the idiot. You are the one that is not where you are supposed to be. Waive politely for being in their way, thankful they didn’t run over you. If nothing else, they won’t drive by thinking fit people are dumb AND mean!

4. Move out of the way. It is polite to move to the outer edge of the road or even off the road when you see a car coming. This acknowledges that you see the car coming, and you know they have the right-of-way. Plus it’s just plain safe!

running at night5. Be visible. It KILLS ME to see people running at dusk, dawn or even at night wearing black AND running on the road. Do you know how many times Steve or I have almost hit someone running on the road on the way to or from work, simply because they were not visible? Way too many times. Although you may not want to wear a dorky reflective vest, you can avoid wearing black, you can wear light and bright colored clothing, and you can even buy reflective clothing that is both stylish and safe. If you run during these times, you should invest in the proper gear. If you aren’t visible, then it would be better for your health to run on the sidewalk than trying to protect your joints but end up getting hit by a car. Just sayin’.

Running with headphones6. Turn your headphones down. I always have my headphones on when I run, but I keep them at a level where I could still hear screeching tires, a horn, siren or even someone yelling at me. If you can’t hear warning signs, you are risking unnecessary danger. If you are running at night, you may choose to not wear headphones at all so you can hear footprints if you feel you are at risk for anyone from sneaking up on you. The best way to stay safe is to increase awareness of what is going on around you at all times. If you block out noises, you just limited one of your most powerful senses.

running on shoulder7. Move off the road when you can’t see oncoming traffic. If you are walking around a corner or up a hill, realize oncoming traffic has no clue you are right around the corner. Your advantage is you can hear them coming. They have no advantage. You are in a blind spot and even their mere reaction to seeing you suddenly could cause them to overreact, panic or even swerve. Many people only think of what THEY can see, and not what drivers see. Just because you see someone coming doesn’t mean they see you.

crazy runner8. Be nice. Seriously people. I hate to say this, but don’t be a grumpy running snob with your 4 water bottles, compression socks and competition outfit acting like you are racing for a million dollars. You are a walking (or should I say running) advertisement for fitness so be a good one! No one wants to hit a happy smiling runner. Noooo! They slow down, move over and wave a nice happy wave to that runner. If you want to get hit, have a mean scowl on your face and act like your poo don’t stink. Even if someone doesn’t choose to hit you, they may throw something at you just because they don’t like the way you look.

Share any of your own running tips or pet peeves below! I’d love to hear them!

More tips & laws for walkers and runners

answers.com logoWant to learn more? Read my recent blog for Answers.com, Walking and Running: 7 Rules to Stay Safe and Legal, for 4 more laws you need to know.

5 Gift Ideas for Runners

Do your Power Walks Lack Power? by Bonnie Pfiester, Answers.com

10 Tips to Buying Running Shoes by Bonnie Pfiester, Answers.com

Preparation Tips for Hiking by Bonnie Pfiester, Answers.com

Top 10 Running Surfaces by Runner’s World

Running on Cement, Asphalt & Grass by Livestrong

The Long Mile Cardio and Conditioning Workout

box jumps stars

Bored of running? Well here’s a workout that incorporates running and full-body conditioning all in one killer fat-burning calorie-scorching workout!

1/4 Mile Sprint
10 Tuck Jumps
10 Thrusters
10 Box Jumps
10 Push Ups
10 Wall Ups
4 ROUNDS FOR TIME 

If you try this workout – post your time below! I’d LOVE to see how you do! …and you can come back and do it again and see if you can beat your old time!

Here’s the matching graphic if you want to share what you did! :)

The Long Mile Workout

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

5 Ways to Feel Thinner in 3 Days

full bellyWe all do it. We blow our diet over the weekend. We not only eat poorly, but we just eat too much. By the time Monday comes around, we feel fat and miserable – and we feel like we are 10lbs heavier than we really are. Well, don’t fret! You can get back on track fast and get your skinny back on!

The truth is, although the weekend is over and your mistakes are behind you, they aren’t really behind you YET. You bring those mistakes with you because you still carry all that food in your gut. The Mayo Clinic explains that the average transit time, from the time you eat the food to elimination, is 40 hours – 33 hours for men and up to 47 hours for women. While you wait to get rid of you poor choices, here are a 5 things you can do to help you feel thinner again!

5 Ways to Feel Thin Fast!

drink-water11. Drink a TON of water. Dining out (because restaurants can use a lot more sodium than we are used to) and eating dry snacks (like chips, nuts, etc) can cause you to hold more water. Water retention can account for up to 5lbs of additional weight from eating foods high in sodium. Flush your body by increasing your water intake – every day, all week long.

2. Go for a run. Get your sweat on and burn some calories! Not only does running help you sweat out the toxins built up from your poor choices over the weekend, but it tightens the core and will help burn off those extra calories and “erase those sins”.

small portions3. Eat tiny portions. Work on shrinking your stomach by limiting portion sizes. It will take a few days for your copious amount of weekend food to get out of your system, but you can feel thinner quicker if you immediately go back to small portions. The less you have in your belly, the smaller your belly will look and feel. If you struggle to limit portions on your own, then eat Lean Cuisines and pre-packaged foods to help control portion size. This frozen entree (pictured left) is the correct portion for a dieter. As you can see, is much smaller than a dinner plate. Visit www.elegantportions.com to shop their unique glassware designed to help you track portions.

protein shake4. Go mushy. When I totally blow it, I like to stick to mushy foods for a few days. Like a healthier version of a fast, mushy foods (like protein shakes, oatmeal, greek yogurt, grits and soups) help me to feel full without adding a lot of solid volume to my gut. I only do this for 3 days and I feel a million times better by the end of the week!

woman-plank5. Plank it out. If you are like me, you’re probably tired of trying to hold your stomach in all weekend. Why? Because it’s hard to suck your tummy in when it is completely stuffed all weekend. Plus, if you didn’t workout over the weekend, your stomach muscles have probably gotten relaxed and stretched out. However, if you tighten up your core with some exercises, those muscles will tighten right back up – and it will be a lot easier to keep your stomach flat.

Tighten Your Tummy: Four Your Core Workout

Will Run for Mexican Food: Why Dangling the Tortilla Chip Works

Motivated to Run
We all have our reasons for running. Some people run for their cardiovascular health, some run for weight loss, some run for stress relief, and others run to eat or drink. Let’s face it, most people run to make more room for calories (or to burn already eaten calories) – so they can eat what they want without getting ridiculously overweight.

Although I can honestly say I don’t run just so I can have Mexican, I’d run a little extra if I know Mexican Food is in my future. I love me some chips and salsa – so much so, I’d run a few extra miles to get it and not feel bad about eating it.

Dangle the Carrot Tortilla Chip
We all have goals, and we have to have them so we can focus on the the reward. But it’s two-fold. Often times our goal IS our reward. For many fitness people, the goal is to look good – and so is the reward. At the same time, our goal should be to feel good too – you should feel good once you’ve reached your goal, and you need to feel good along the way. Part of feeling good is not feeling deprived. You’ll never be successful if you are miserable. And, just like we save up our money for the things we want, we should save up our calories for foods we want so we can enjoy our fitness lifestyle along the way to success.

In order to do this successfully, we need to “shop” (eat) wisely, so we don’t overdo it. Many times we work very hard so we can cheat on the weekend, but have no idea the real damage we do when we go off our diet. If you can keep tabs on your cheat meals, it may be exactly what you need mentally to motivate you to keep working out.

On the Border? Or Over the Edge?

I would have to run 20 miles to afford to eat one basket of chips and salsa, Steak Fajitas and one drink.

In order for you to make sure you aren’t going overboard on calories, here are a few popular dishes from the popular Mexican Food Chain, On the Border. As you look at the calories, think about how long it would take to run, or walk, them off – typically, about 1 mile per 100 calories.

Appetizers:
One serving of Chips & Salsa: 430 calories
The Border Sampler: 2060 calories
Steak Fajita Quesadillas: 1210 calories
Steak Fajita Nachos: 1450 calories
Queso without Chips: 430 calories

Salads:
Chicken Fajita Salad with Smoked Jalapeno Vinaigrette, 960 calories
Taco Salad with Chipotle Honey Mustard Dressing, 1600 calories

Popular Meals:
Steak Fajitas, 1495 calories
Dos XX® Fish Tacos w/ Creamy Red Chile Sauce, 1950 calories
Southwest Chicken Tacos w/ Creamy Red Chile Sauce, 1280 calories
Street-Style Mini Chicken Tacos (with rice, without beans), 890 calories
Enchilada Suizas (with rice, without beans), 1000 calories
Classic Chimichanga Chicken w/o Sauce, 1300 calories
Big Steak Bordurrito w/ Side Salad w/o Dressing, 1750 calories

Dessert:
Sopapillas, 1340 calories
Sizzling Apple Crisp, 1120 calories
Border Brownie Sundae w/ Vanilla Ice Cream, 1360 calories

 

5 Spicy Tips to Saving Calories:

#1 Cut Calories without Cutting Taste:
SKIP 3 Tortillas (that come with Fajitas), saves 360 calories
SKIP Refried Beans, saves 220 calories
SKIP Mexican Rice, saves 280 calories
SKIP Cilantro Lime Rice, saves 390 calories
SKIP Chipotle Honey Mustard Dressing, saves 320 calories
SKIP Smoked Jalapeno Vinaigrette, saves 250 calories
SKIP Black Beans, saves 180 calories
SKIP MIxed Cheese (topping on tacos, fajitas, salads,), saves 110 calories
SKIP Sour Cream or Guacamole – NEVER! It’s worth the calories! (sour cream: 60 calories, guac: 50 calories)

#2 Stick with Chips & Salsa:
Don’t be tempted by all the appetizers. Instead stick to the basics. Chips and salsa takes a while to eat and has fewer calories than most of the other menu items.

#3 Split a Meal:
Most people are STUFFED after eating Mexican food because they snack on so many chips. Most likely, you will eat the same amount of chips no matter what, so split a meal so you leave satisfied, but not stuffed.

#4 Add It Up, Before You Order it Up:
Decide what you want to eat before you even go to the restaurant and add it to your calorie app (like LoseIt). This way you order smart, instead of impulse buy everything that is so nicely displayed on the menu.

Taco Trivia:  If you think getting a soft taco is always better than crunchy. Think again. A chicken soft taco is 10 more calories than the crispy chicken taco at On the Border. 270 calorie per taco.

#5 Bounce Back
Once you cheat, go right back to healthy eating and exercise. Don’t start a downward spiral of cheating. The key to fitness success is how quick you bounce back after you go off course – planned or not.

What do YOU Run For? 

 

Are You an Awkward Runner? 3 Tips to Improve Form

We’ve all seen it – the old guy walking with his feet, but running with his arms. Or the runner with the limp hands tucked into the rib cage, as if they’re failing flippers or clipped wings. How about the chick that looks like she should be running fast, but it’s like she’s in full on movie quality slo-mo. Sometimes, a person’s gait just looks odd, and we can’t even put our finger on what’s wrong – but we know something’s not right. Don’t be too quit to laugh – it could be you!

Do you know what you look like?
I remember the first time I saw myself running on video. In my mind, I was a cross between a deer and a cheetah. I envisioned myself with a nice long graceful stride, able to leap over obstacles with ease, running fast and strong like my spotted furry friend. Then I saw video and photographs that proved the deer-cheetah animal in me was nowhere to be found. My stride was short, despite my long legs, and it appeared that an old lady with a walker could have passed me at any given time.

I noticed the same thing when Steve and I were doing fitness tips on walking. I had the treadmill cranking (I thought), yet I looked like I was barely exercising. That’s when I decided to work on my stride and push my limits. I wanted to improve my gait, increase my arm swing and speed up my pace.

University of Hawaii’s track and field coach Carmyn James said, “Proper running forms are basically the same if you run a 12-minute mile or you are trying to sprint a 12-second 100-meter dash.” With that said, I believe we can learn a lot from sprinters.

Sprinting Your Way to Better Form

Arm Swing

I think many people just don’t use their upper body properly with their lower body. Often times the upper body is doing its own separate thing apart from the lower body. However, I believe, if you were being chased by a pit bull, I think your arms and legs would work in perfect harmony together in order to move you as fast and effectively away from harm. That’s why I think sprints are helpful to learn how to use your arms WITH your legs. Try sprinting with your arms dangling down by your side. Now THAT would be one awkward run!

Pace

Most people I see with awkward form are going slow. Mopey runners look like dopey runners. I can talk this way because I used to be that dopey runner. Sprints improve your pace and strength, which improves form. Many people look awkward just because they aren’t strong enough to run with the power necessary to move them forward correctly. Also, when you’re running with purpose, suddenly every body part moves with more purpose, forcing us to practice using our body as one effective unit. I use the RunKeeper to track my pace and push my limits. Sometimes I combine a slow jog with sprints, and other times I work on just keeping a steady faster pace for the whole run, concentrating on my form and stride. I’m no professional runner, but since I started becoming more aware of my pace, I’ve improved both my form and speed.

Posture

No one sprints with their head all hanging down and back hunched over. When I see people sprint, their body is all stretched out, body leaning slightly forward, head up and eyes forward and alert. Yet, when people jog, often times their neck sticks out, head hangs low, and back is slumped. Why? First, I think we are tired and holding good posture takes work, but another issue is our eyesight. When we jog or walk, we’re going slow so we are only concerned with what is right in front of us (hence the head and eyes down). Just think, our 8lb head puts a lot of strain on our neck as soon as it starts to tilt forward. Ouch! Sprinters, on the other hand, are moving so fast, they need to be more concerned with what lies ahead, so their head up. To have posture like a sprinter, keep your eyes focused on your path 10-20 feet ahead of you.

More Running Tips:

Runners Beware – 4 Things You Need to Know

10 Reasons You Want a Runners High

Runners Beware: Part 2 – How to Tweak Your Fitness

Motivation: Reason to Keep Running

Running Form Key to Success

10 Heart-Pounding, Fat-Melting, Body-Toning Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

The military says they are good enough to prepare soldiers for war. Athletic trainers use them to create champions. Olympians do them to bring home the gold. You and I do them because they work! I’m talking about plyometrics. They melt fat, sculpt muscle, and get your heart and lungs in the shape of their lives. There’s just nothing like it – and there is no better time to do them than when it’s just too hot to exercise outside.

10 Heart Pounding, Fat Melting, Body Toning, Exercises

The following exercise require no weights, no equipment & no gym – which means you have NO excuses. Click on the link, follow the directions, and watch FitStudio video demonstrations to learn each exercise.

1. Burpee
2. Double Unders
3. Plyo Box Jump
4. 5 Second Football Stomp With Sprawl
5. Jumping Jacks
6. Mountain Climber
7. Mary Catherines
8. Squat Thrust
9. Surfers
10. Plyometric Double Knee Jump

Advanced: Do 5 of any of the above exercises for 45 seconds on and 15 seconds off, with 60 seconds rest after completing the 5 exercises and repeat 5 times for a 30 minute high-intensity sweat-your-butt-off workout.

Beginner: Do 5 of any of the above exercises for 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off, with 60 seconds rest after completing the 5 exercises and repeat 5 times for a 30 minute high-intensity sweat-your-butt-off workout.

Summer Shape Up Challenge:

Try this plyo lower-body workout, a part of Designer Whey’s 20112 Summer Shape Up Challenge, with Steve Pfiester. Use a step, couch, ottoman, picnic bench or aerobic step for the killer plyo jumps. Try all the Summer Shape Up workouts!

3 Ways to Stop Knee Pain

Do your knees ache? Do they hurt when you run? Do your knees get in the way of a good leg routine? Before you go off running for the operating room, your knee pain could be something a lot more simple than you think.

One popular reasons people (especially runners and fitness newbies) struggle with knee pain is because our leg muscles are out of balance. As tight muscles play tug-a-war with your knee cap knee cap, and your apposing weak muscles are losing. This cause the knee cap to float out of place – resulting in poor knee tracking and a lot of discomfort.

Steve explains how to correct the problem with a couple of simple exercises:

More Exercises

1 Stretches: 
Quadricep Stretch
IT Band Stretch
IT Band Foam Roller

2. Exercises:
Leg Extension on a Machine

Leg Extension with Bands
Leg Extension with Leg Weights

3. Ice & Rest:
Rest is crucial to allow for healing
Ice is essential to reduce inflammation (15 minutes at a time, as often as you can)

More Injury Prevention Blogs

More on Knee Pain:
Simple Fix for Knee Pain
Fast Fix for a Pain in Your Butt
Kick Heel Pain
HEROES: Fitness After Pain & Injury
Train Hurt or Go Home! (or should you?)
5 Simple Pain Prevention Tips

RANT: Fit Mags Needs to Shape Up!

I think it’s time magazines set some New Year’s Resolutions of their own! It’s time they  shape up their content and lose the useless baggage they’ve all be carrying for so long!! 

I was looking for a magazine at the corner pharmacy while in New York City with the FitFluential team, and was overwhelmed by all the magazine headlines – more like annoyed. “Blast Fat Fast, in only 10 Minutes” must sell magazines, but it should be an insult to our intelligence.

I guess “Blast Fat Realistically” wouldn’t sell subscriptions, or “Sculpt a New Physique in 30 Minutes a Day” (instead of 10 minutes a day) may seem too extreme – but come on people?! When will we quit falling for gimmick tricks that will let you down faster than your worst boyfriend?

When has ANYthing great come out of a little investment? How often have you reaped a big reward for little work? I’m sick of seeing these watered down workouts and false claims that prey on the hopeless. For ONCE, would someone man up and actually put a workout boldly on their cover that (dare I say) looks a little challenging and takes a little more time than 10 minutes a day?

What do you want? Do you want truth or do you want the media to continue delivering half truths and gimmick workouts that rarely actually ‘work out’? Would you actually buy a magazine that featured factual information you may not WANT to hear but NEED to hear? Or are we all going to keep buying this crap and supporting this type of media?

iPhone Pics: Actual headlines on various covers this month:  Read the rest of this entry

Runners Beware Part 2: Tips to Tweak your Fitness

After writing my last blog, “Runners Beware“, I hopped on a plane to New York with my FitFluential peeps, responding to everyone’s comments and feedback via phone and ipad on the go. With over 1,000 facebook likes and 20,000 views, it’s obviously a hot topic. As I sit in my hotel room this morning, with a great view of the new World Trade center buildings, I finally have a chance to squeeze in a follow-up post.

Luckily, most people who read the blog received the “bad news” pretty well. It’s never fun finding out you’ve been investing a lot of time and energy into something that may not give you the result you thought. I’m not implying that running is not beneficial (I RUN and LOVE it!), BUUUUT being fit (and looking fit) is more than going for a jog every day.

Why are more and more people running?
My answer: Because they can. As people get fit with the help of gyms, trainers, workout DVDs, etc they get fit enough to run – plain and simple. Before someone gets in shape, running is rarely an option or even appealing. However, as someone gets fit and discovers they are now ABLE to run, it becomes a natural response.  Unfortunately, people often drop their gym memberships, or programs, for running – but running is Read the rest of this entry

Runners Beware: 4 Things You Need to Know

When I think of runners I think of fit people. I picture thin peeps jogging it out every day, lookin’ and feeling good – but that is not always the case. Many runners may be doing their body (and physique) more harm than good.  Although I am a runner and love the benefits of it, there can be some negative side effects if that’s all you do.

#1 You Can Get Skinny Fat. We’ve all seen it. A person is slim, but not fit. They jiggle in the middle, their butt sags, their thighs flab, but they wear a size 4. If you aren’t preserving muscle with resistance training and getting enough protein (I take 100-125gms a day) you could lose valuable muscle that gives you the fit and firm shape you want. 

#2 Your Metabolism Can Slow Down. Our metabolism is primarily based on our muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest (Basal Metabolic Rate). For instance, most of our female clients burn between 1200-1300 calories at rest (Mine is BMR is 1500). I’m not muscle-bound by all means, but I do have more lean mass so I do burn more calories than I did without muscle. I am a runner, but I also do hit the weights HARD – and as you can see (that’s me on the right), my legs don’t look like a bodybuilder. Note: Resistance training is any exercise that uses resistance (weight) like weights, bands, kettlebells and power yoga or bootcamp (using your own body weight).  Read the rest of this entry

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