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Archive for May 2012

Your horoscope for May 26, 2012

The day ahead should be fairly positive, HEATHER, and you will begin to feel the faintest hints of a major change beginning. This new phase will last seven months. As it progresses, you will find greater freedom of expression, and you can expect to shift into high gear on subjects you used to avoid. Some friction with your brothers and sisters is likely to arise in the next few months.

Now, I know you shouldn’t buy into these horoscopes, but sometimes they be right on point…or at least pretty close to it!

I’ll be 30 exactly 6 months from today.  Lately I have been needing a major change in my life.  I’ve been slowly working on it.  And sure, I’ve already begun to make a change, with incorporating jogging into my life, working out, eating a little differently.  But my changing isn’t only about that.  It’s going to be much more than that.  My entire life is going to change.  I will be happier, healthier, and more successful.

I have been on the wrong path for many years.  No, I’ve never been into drugs or drinking heavily, but when I say I’ve been on the wrong path, I mean I haven’t been on the path I should have been on.  I haven’t been happy as I should be, I haven’t done things as well as I should, I’ve had trouble financially, I’ve had trouble with jobs, I haven’t finished college, and, of course, I’m not in the best shape.

Along with this, I lost my passion for things I once had.  I grew up with dreams of doing certain things and I lost sight of that along the way somehow.  Very recently, I realized it’s been in front of me this entire time.

I write constantly.  I grew up writing.  I’ve written stories.  I used to write for the newspaper in high school.  I’m always writing in journals.  It’s always been my passion.  I grew up with the dream of wanting to be a writer.  My mother knew this and always encouraged me to do so.  I’ve also always been an avid reader, which goes hand in hand.

So, when my therapist brought up the idea of me taking everything that I’ve been through, everything I’m going through, and everything that I’m doing and writing a book, at first, I thought it was a crazy idea.  BUT the more I thought about it, the more I decided to go for it.  She said that maybe there are people out there who have been where I once was, who feel how I have felt, who will get help from what I have to say.

Now, I’m not totally done yet, so maybe I will end up being a success story at the end of this book…which brings me back to this horoscope.  Maybe it’s a sign, a small glimmer of hope, some motivation, that this really is a good idea, that I can do this.

Afterall, I certainly can’t turn 30 on a bad note, right?

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190 days until I turn 30.

Am I freaking out?  Oh no!  Why on earth would I do that?!  Only because I’m not even close to being where I should be at this age.  I’ve done NOTHING close to what I should have done at this age.  No, nothing like that.

No, at the age of 30, I thought I would have already graduated from college, had a decent paying job, been married, had a house, a decent car, been able to go on a vacation maybe once every year or two, at least.

Instead, I’m 6 months away from being 30, still living at home with my father, a single mother of two, with no job, no degree, with a car that’s not in the best shape, I’M not in the best shape, never been married, no chance of even getting engaged, but I have a boyfriend, and I can’t remember the last time I even went on vacation.  In fact, what IS a vacation?

And when I go to make my “things to do before I turn 30″ list, I draw a blank.  Really?  I mean, really?  I can’t even think of a single thing to do before I turn 30?!  Oh, besides my half marathon in October.  Which I’m training for.  But besides that.  What an imagination…

That brings me to another point.  I used to have this wonderful imagination.  I used to have all these amazing dreams.  What happened to them?  When did these things get sucked out of me?  Did I realize at some point that “oh, these things are not going to happen, just erase them from your mind, don’t even dream anymore.”  I’ve lost the ability to dream now?  Is that what happens when you get old?  Or older?  Because I’m not really OLD yet, am I?  I mean, according to my 9 year old, I am, everyone older than her is OLD, but really, is that what happens?  When you hit a certain age, do you lose the ability to dream?  All the things you once wanted, once had a passion for, is it all gone?

I need inspiration.  I need to feel alive again.  SOMETHING needs to happen.

I know numbers on a scale aren’t supposed to mean everything.  It’s more about how you feel, how your clothes feel, inches lost (which I haven’t done my measurements in awhile).  But man, seeing those numbers go down make me so happy.  And when I see the numbers go up…I can’t help but get frustrated.

I am still not brave enough to post the number, but this morning, I gained again!  And I know it’s not due to my fitness schedule.  I know exactly what the cause is: my food intake.

For the longest time, I had cut soda completely out of my diet.  I was so proud of myself.  Lately, I’ve let it slip here and there and I can really tell it’s back in my system.  I need to kick it to the curb again and not give into temptation.  Also, I had fast food this weekend.  Not a good idea.  And yesterday I had Doritos.

What is wrong with me?!  I’m not supposed to be giving in like this!  I need to kick myself in the butt.  I need to make some drastic changes as of yesterday.  There is no way I’m going to reach any kind of goals making these careless mistakes with my diet.

I already took my thyroid med this morning, so I have to wait the proper amount of time to be able to eat breakfast.  I’m going to go make myself some eggs (yay protein!) to get my day started with some orange juice, take my B12 and my multivitamin, do some crunches, clean up the house a little bit, and get Lola up, ready, breakfast and off to school. Then I’m going to come home, take care of some things, go to my therapist appointment and then go to the gym.  I have got to tighten up.  No more excuses.

It’s all about choices.  I need to choose to do the right things instead of the wrong ones.  It’s very important.  190 days until I turn 30…and 20 weeks until the half marathon.  Time to step it up!!

Running may be challenging, but it is an activity humans were designed to do—and it’s something nearly everyone can enjoy if we allow time and patience for our bodies to adapt to the demands of the sport. But that doesn’t mean that proper running form will come naturally for you.

If you were to watch 10 different people run, you would notice that each one has a distinctive style. There is not one “correct” way to run. You should run the way that is most comfortable and efficient for you. However, you can still fine-tune your running technique, whether you’re an experienced runner or a walker who is ready to jump into running. Every runner should understand the basics like proper breathing, posture and foot strike. With proper form, you can help improve your performance and decrease your risk of running ailments and injuries.

Proper Running Posture
Just as you should maintain good posture when standing or sitting, maintaining a relaxed, upright posture while running is essential. Good posture will help release tension and reduce strain in the neck and shoulders, which can prevent muscle fatigue. The idea is to run in a relaxed manner with as little tension as possible. Follow these four proper posture principles to do just that.

  1. Hold your head high, centered between your shoulders, and your back straight. Imagine your body is hanging from a string that is attached to the top of your head. Do not lean your head too far forward; this can lead to fatigue and tightness in the neck, as well as the shoulders, back and even your hamstrings. While a backward lean is not as common, doing so puts greater tension on your back and legs, so avoid that, too.
  2. Focus your gaze approximately 30-40 yards in front of you. Looking down when running can lead to greater strain on the neck muscles and spine, which can lead to fatigue especially in the latter part of your run.
  3. Relax your jaw and neck. Holding too much tension in your face and neck can lead to tension in other parts of your body, making for an inefficient (and tiring) run.
  4. Keep your shoulders relaxed and parallel to the ground. Do not pull your shoulder blades together as this increases shoulder tension. Your shoulders should hang loosely with a slight forward roll for optimal relaxation. If your shoulders rise toward your ears or tense up during your run, drop your arms and loosely shake them out. Do this several times during your run.

Arms and Hands
When you run, your arms (and hands) are just as important and powerful as your legs are. They provide power and speed as they propel forward. Proper arm and hand placement is just as important as good posture if you want to be a better runner. Here’s a rundown of proper alignment and movement from your fingertips to your shoulders.

  • Lightly cup your hand as through you were holding an egg or a delicate butterfly. Don’t make a tight, clenching fist or keep your hands too loose that they become floppy.
  • Keep your wrists loose. This will help you maintain a good hand and shoulder position—and avoid tension in the hands and arms that can work its way up to your shoulders.
  • Bend your elbows at approximately a 90-degree angle with your elbows slightly pointed away from your torso. As your arms pump, your elbows should swing somewhere between your chest and waistline—not higher or lower than that. Carrying your arms too high can lead to fatigue, a shorter stride length, and increased shoulder tension; carrying them too low can lead to bouncing and a forward lean.
  • Allow your arms to swing from the shoulders in a pumping motion from front to back. Be careful to prevent your arms from crossing the midline of your body.
  • Pumping your arms at a faster rate will allow for faster leg turnover, however make sure you do not put too much power into your arm movement unless you are doing speed work, running up hills or powering yourself to get across the finish line. Your goal is to hold off fatigue and muscle tension.

Breathing
Over time, each runner will discover a breathing technique that works best for him or her. As to whether you breathe through your nose, mouth, or a combination of the two, is a personal preference. Most runners find that mouth breathing provides the body with the greatest amount of oxygen.

Whatever technique you choose to use, make sure your breathing is relaxed and deep. It may take conscious effort in the beginning, but deep abdominal or “belly” breathing is ideal for running. Most of the time, we breath quickly and shallowly into our chests. This may work fine for daily living, when the body isn’t demanding a greater need for oxygen, but it’s an inefficient—and even stressful—way to breathe when exercising.

To practice belly breathing, lie flat on your back with a book on your abdomen. Slowly inhale as you watch the book rise, then lower the book by slowly exhaling. This takes focus, but overtime you will find it easier to do this type of breathing during your runs.

Side stitches (sharp, cramp-like pain in the trunk of the body) are quite common among new runners, and they can really put a damper on your workout. One cause of side stitches can be shallow, upper chest breathing. This is where belly breathing helps tremendously. By inhaling and then forcefully exhaling through pursed lips, you can very often help prevent the dreaded side stitch. Maintaining good posture, with your body in an upright position, also allows for better lung expansion, therefore permitting for greater delivery of oxygen to the muscles.

Finding Your Stride
One of the most common mistakes new runners make is overstriding. When you extend your lead foot too far out in front of the body, it lands in front of your center of gravity creating a breaking effect. This can lead to injury issues such as runner’s knee and shin splints. Also, make sure your strides are not too short and choppy so that you appear to bounce; this is just as inefficient as overstriding. It is far better to understride than to overstride, however, but you should find a stride length that is comfortable, almost effortless.

Over time, your leg turnover or “cadence” will get faster. You may also find your stride lengthening, but this is not due to overstretching the lead leg as many new runners do, but rather from increasing the forward motion of the rear leg.

Be careful not to lift the knees too high as doing so can lead to fatigue in the quadriceps (front of the thighs).

Footstrike
Footstrike refers to how, where, and when the foot hits the ground. There has been a lot of debate in the running community as to whether heel striking or mid-foot striking is a better approach to endurance running; however, the reality is that most average runners are heel strikers. In other words, they land with their heel first and roll to the ball of the foot. This comes naturally to most people, but striking with your heel can increase your risk of injury—especially to the knees—and may set you up for shin splint or hamstring injuries. Over time, it isn’t uncommon for a runner to change her footstrike as she develops greater muscle strength in addition to developing stronger connective tissues in his legs and feet. A mid-foot strike, in contrast to a heel strike, provides greater shock absorption, decreases strain on the calves and Achilles tendon, and may help prevent shin splints. As long as your foot strikes the ground directly below your center of gravity—not too far ahead (as explained in the Finding Your Stride section above)—the best technique for you is the one that allows you the best running efficiency while preventing injury.

As you develop greater muscle strength and the connective tissues supporting the legs, eventually you may find your footstrike evolving into a more advanced technique known at the ball-heel-toe strike. This occurs when you land lightly on the outside ball of the foot then quickly roll to the heel only to push off with your big toe.

Run to the Hills
Hills can bring anxiety and dread to runners of all levels. It is usually a runner’s biggest concern when scoping out races or courses to run. Nevertheless, the more you practice, the better you can cope with the terrain changes you encounter.

Runners should practice both uphill and downhill running, which both demand different running techniques. Uphill running requires greater power from the hamstrings (back thigh muscles), glutes and calf muscles, while downhill running requires greater use of the quadriceps.

Before you begin training on hills, it is best to have run on a flat surface for several months first. Even though many people believe uphill running poses a greater injury threat, it is actually downhill training that can pose a bigger risk, especially if you do not have a solid running foundation.

Once you start hill work, remember to keep these training runs to no more than 1-2 days a week, while allowing for adequate recovery before trying them again.

Uphill Techniques
Uphill running burns more calories, improves oxygen delivery to the muscles, and can help an average runner train to become faster and more efficient on a flat terrain. Hills help a runner increase his or her leg turnover, and they increase strength and power in the leg muscles.

Below are some changes you will need to make to your running form in order to conquer the hills safely and effectively.

  • Attack or charge the hill while still maintaining the same rate of effort, however know that due to the gravitational pull, your speed will naturally be slower.
  • Pick up your knees and shorten your stride while increasing your stride rate. Your stride should still allow for a landing in the center of gravity or just slightly ahead of the lead foot.
  • Pump your arms at a slightly faster rate, keeping in mind that the steeper the hill, the more arm motion you will need to drive up the hill. This will help offset the gravitational pull.
  • Lean into the hill, not from the waist or hips, but from the ankle. Leaning at the waist can lead to potential injury and lessens the expansion of the lungs. The best explanation I’ve found about leaning from the ankle comes from an article in Running Times magazine. Author Danny Dreyer writes, “pretend you’re a ski jumper gracefully extending yourself out over the tips of your skis, body fully extended.” I couldn’t have said it better.
  • Practice focusing on getting up that hill. Because uphill running requires greater strength and stamina than flat surface running, many times just taking control of the hill can help you conquer it.

Downhill Techniques
What goes up must come down. As much as runners despise uphill training, downhill running actually requires greater concentration in order to prevent injuries. When gravity pulls you downhill, your quadriceps absorb the impact of gravity plus your body weight. This increases your risk of knee and quadriceps injuries—if you don’t take precautions—and may contribute to muscle soreness more than uphill running does. Slowing down and maintaining proper form is essential to run downhill injury-free.

  • Because the potential for injury is much greater running downhill, it is very important to maintain the same running form as you would on a flat terrain while still allowing gravity to do some of the work.
  • While it is tempting to lean back when taking on these types of runs, it is very important to keep a slight forward lean at the ankles, similar to the technique you used running uphill.
  • Instead of using your arms to increase power and speed, think of them as helping you maintain rhythm and balance.
  • Land lightly on the ball of your foot as you run downhill so that your feet don’t act as brakes and slow your forward progression.

Although there is no “perfect” way to run, improving on some areas will make you a stronger, more efficient runner over time. Do not feel you need to make these changes all at once. It is far better to focus on sharpening one specific area, such as hand and arm positioning instead of trying to change everything at once.

You may find yourself a little overwhelmed after reading all that is involved in developing proper running form. Don’t be. The most important point is to allow yourself time to adapt to the sport of running. Remember relaxation, whether with your breathing, arm positioning or body posture, is the key to becoming the best runner you can be!

credit sparkpeople for the article http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=823

The ability to run one mile non-stop isn’t something to be taken lightly. Some have never been able to run very far without getting overly winded. But with proper training, you can do this and more! The problem most people have is that they start out running way to hard or fast and cannot keep the pace, so jog as slowly as you need to, especially when starting out.

You do have to be able to walk before you can run. Once you can comfortably walk for one full hour, then you’re ready to start running. This program will work at the gym, outside, on the treadmill, or on any running track. Speed is not important—remember to pace yourself to make it through your jogging intervals without getting too tired.
Time Involved: Two or three 20-minute sessions a week, for 4 weeks
Fitness Benefit: Cardiovascular endurance

Week

Jog Intervals (minutes) Walk Intervals (minutes)

Number of Jog/Walk Repetitions

Total Time (minutes)

1

1 4 4 20

2

2 3 4 20

3

3 2 4 20

4

4 1 4 20

Once you complete these training sessions, you should be ready to run one mile straight!

General Training Tips

  • Always warm up by walking for 3-5 minutes before your workout; end each training session with a 3-5 minute cool down, and don’t forget to stretch!
  • Be sure to rest from cardio for 1-2 days each week. Resting is just as important as training, because recovery will help you become more fit.
  • Eat right. If you’re not eating the right foods, you won’t have enough fuel to complete a good workout. Learn what to eat before and after each workout to ensure you’ll see results.
  • Mix it up. Nothing causes fitness plateaus like monotony. Besides jogging 2-3 times per week, like this program recommends, find other ways to change up your cardio routine.
  • Keep at it. If you don’t continue to run regularly, you’ll lose the endurance that took you weeks to build up. Run on a regular basis, aiming for 2-3 sessions each week to maintain your fitness level. Over time, try to increase your speed and distance.

Good luck reaching your goals!

credit sparkpeople for article: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1004

Boost Performance, Reduce Injury Risk and Beat Boredom

— By Nancy Howard, Certified Running Coach

The only way to become a better runner is to run, but the more running replaces other exercises in your fitness program, the more likely you are to become injured, suffer from burnout, or develop muscular imbalances. So what’s a runner to do (besides run, of course)? Cross train.

Cross-training, or taking part in alternative forms of exercise, should be part of every fitness plan because it helps reduce the risk of overuse injuries, improves muscular balance, targets your muscles in new and different ways, and aids in muscle recovery. In addition, cross-training can also prevent burnout and add a little fun and variety to your workout routine, while still helping you stay aerobically fit.

In this article, we’ll outline two approaches to cross-training for runners: 1) activities that complement running and 2) activities that enhance running. Depending on your training and health situation, you can select the activities that will work best for you. Try to include some form of cross-training at least one to three times per week for optimal results.
Cross-Training Activities that Complement Running  Complementary cross-training activities use your main running muscles in different ways, and engage additional muscles that you may never use while running. Performing these types of activities will allow you to build greater muscle strength and muscular balance, therefore reducing your risk for injury.

Swimming
Because swimming is a non-weightbearing activity, it gives the joints and connective tissues a break from the impact of running while allowing you to maintain aerobic fitness. Swimming can be a beneficial cross-training activity all runners, especially those recovering from injury. By targeting all the major muscle groups (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abs, lower back and upper body), swimming allows your legs a break while developing the upper body musculature that is often neglected in runners.

Cycling
Cycling indoors on a stationary bike, at the gym in a Spinning class, or outdoors on the road or trail is another low-impact activity that can give your body a break from the high impact of running. Biking targets the quadriceps and shin muscles, which are slower to develop in runners and helps strengthen the connective tissue of the knees, hips and ankles, which may reduce your risk for injury. However, some running experts advise against cycling on non-run days because it can still be strenuous and exhausting to your muscles. So what do you do? If you want to cross train with biking, include it on your running days by running first and then cycling later in the day.

Indoor Rowing
The indoor rowing machine is not the most popular item in the gym, but it provides an amazing workout. Rowing is great for runners who want to develop strength in their quadriceps and hips while also improving upper body strength. Good form is necessary when using the rower, so read this article about proper rowing mechanics or ask a certified trainer for some pointers.

Stair Climbing
Whether you elect to climb stairs in your office building or at the gym on the stair stepping machine, heading up stairs provides an excellent workout for the quads and hip flexors. Because runners tend to have stronger hamstrings, cross-training activities that target the quadriceps can help you achieve better muscle balance, therefore reducing the injury risk.

Plyometrics
Plyometrics are high intensity, explosive exercises such as jumping, bounding and hopping drills. Jumping onto a box or step is one of the most popular. These activities can help improve a runner’s overall strength, speed, range of motion, push-offs and stride length, but they are best suited for highly conditioned athletes—not beginners. Using proper form is essential when performing explosive drills. Because of their high impact, landing improperly can lead to a greater incidence of injury. If you are not familiar with plyometrics, you may want to work with a certified personal trainer for a few sessions until you have mastered the techniques.

Walking
Many runners are surprised to hear that walking is actually a great cross-training activity. Unlike running, it’s low-impact, but it targets many of the same muscles and connective tissues. And because walking can be done almost anywhere at any time, doing a vigorous walk the day after an intense run is a great way to recover. If you choose to use walking as a cross-training activity on your non-running days, walk at a brisk enough pace to get the cardio-respiratory benefits. Remember to use good form and pump your arms to burn more calories and pick up the pace.
Cross-training Activities that Enhance RunningThese activities are those that utilize the muscles, connective tissues and joints in a similar manner used in running but with lower impact on the joints. Many runners will use these workouts when recovering from an injury or when going through rehab, but you can try these workout ideas as preventive measures even when you’re not suffering from an injury.

Deep Water Running
Deep water running, also known as pool running, is exactly as the name implies: running in deep water. This is achieved by slipping on a flotation device, such as an AquaJogger, so that your legs are suspended off the bottom of the pool. This activity most mimics running on land without the impact on the joints. It makes a great cross-training activity for injured runners, but many healthy runners may find it quite boring. One of the disadvantages to pool running is the need to have access to an indoor pool during the colder months and/or a pool deep enough to perform this workout.

Elliptical Trainer
The elliptical trainer is one of the most popular cardio machines in the gym, and because it mimics running action without the impact, it makes an excellent cross-training activity. Even though the elliptical is a weight-bearing activity, it is low-impact for the joints. The elliptical also helps develop a runner’s core and leg muscles, and if you use one with the arm levers, the pushing and pulling motion allows you to develop a stronger arm swing therefore helping make you a more efficient runner.

Cross-Country Skiing
While many of us may not have the snow (or snow gear) to participate in this cross-training activity, an indoor cross country ski machine such as a Nordic Track offers similar benefits. Cross country skiing can help improve running economy (the amount of oxygen used during a run). Because the hips, quadriceps, core and upper body are all utilized in performing this workout, it allows for development of the weaker quadriceps without the impact. And one of the greatest benefits is the high-calorie expenditure that comes from doing this activity. If you are looking for an activity that burns as many (or more) calories as running does, the cross-country ski machine may be a great addition to your workout routine.

Please remember that cross-training should not replace a scheduled day off from running. Rest is just as vital to your training as running is, for it is during recovery that your body begins the adaptation process to making you a more efficient runner.

Running too much can lead to a greater incidence of injury and actually slow your progress and running performance. This is why cross-training plays such an important role in keeping us active and injury-free. Cross-training activities are meant to complement and enhance your running by giving your muscles a break from running while still allowing you to burn calories and develop greater aerobic fitness. And by adding variety to your workout routine, you may find yourself looking forward to your runs, which can help make you a life-long runner.

credit: sparkpeople.com for the article    http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1566

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It’s been a rough couple of days.  Somehow I got a little lost.  Especially after yesterday.

I had my last personal training session yesterday.  I only get three free ones.  And that one had to be cut short because I got dizzy.  I have to admit, I haven’t been consistent on my Topamax, which is my migraine prevention medication, lately.  It helps with the dizziness.  I get dizziness due to my migraine disorder.  But something else really bothered me.

Now, I know personal trainers at gyms make their money by selling personal training sessions.  And they have to do that however they know how.  But when a client says they just can’t afford it, that should be the end of it.  And when that client is someone who really doesn’t need their motivation taken away, making them feel like they can’t do it on their own, in my opinion, is wrong.  Just accept no as the answer.  Or say “okay, this will be our last session.  Let me show you things you can do so you’re able to do this on your own.”  But hey, I guess it’s all about making money, right?  Not about what’s in the best interest of the client.

So, after yesterday’s session, I was feeling horrible.  Not just because of the dizziness, but because I felt like my motivation and spirit were just broken down.  Like there was no way I could do this on my own from here on out.  And today, I had no drive to even go work out.  To do anything, really.  And considering where I was, that’s really sad.

It hit me all at once, though, just a little bit ago, I’m capable of doing this by myself.  I’m able to read and do research.  I’m determined to do this.  I can get my motivation back.  I have a gym membership.  I have a little bit of equipment at home.  I CAN do this.  I don’t need a personal trainer.  There are plenty of people out there that do it on their own, without the assistance of personal trainers.  And I have people that believe in me, that support me.

Losing my motivation?  I only got a little lost.  Sometimes it happens.  Sometimes things throw us off.  But I can do this.  And I WILL DO THIS.


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