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ACT Half Marathon

Well, today I ran the “ACT Half Marathon” and beat my time from last year by over 30 minutes!  My finishing time was 1:37:31!  That’s a 7:27 mile pace.  All in all, it was a great race.  I felt great and met my goal.  Here a few thoughts from the race….

1.  I wish I would have gotten there a little earlier.  (I had trouble finding the baggage drop and didn’t have much time to warm up.)

2.  I didn’t go out too fast!

3.  I hydrated and fueled well.

4.  Kept my body and breathing relaxed.

5.  Most importantly I had fun!!!

I’m super excited, but now it’s time to focus on my next goal.

On October 29th, I will run the “Spinx Run Fest Marathon“.  It’s time to train hard, lose a little more weight, and get ready to go long.  I’ll try to keep weekly updates on my training from now until the race.

Peace.

Update / It’s Been A While

Since my last post, a few things have happened.  First, I did run the Dupont 1/2 marathon and finished under 2 hours at a 9min per mile pace.  Not as good as I had hoped, but the course was much harder than I had expected.  After that race, I started training in Bent Creek Experimental Forest.  Bent Creek is a great place to run!  Lot of trails, and forest roads.  I purchased the book “Asheville Trail Running“, which has courses ranging from 1 mile to 20 miles.  A great book for anyone who wants to take up trail running in the Asheville area.  In July, I ran my 1st 5K race, the “Bele Chere 5K“.  It was a great race!  I ran a 22:15, which for me, on a hilly course, was great.

 

Tomorrow marks 1 year since my 1st race…. the “ACT Half Marathon“.  I plan on running a little faster than last year.  Last year I finished around  2:08:00, and this year my goal is to break 1:40:00.  I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow!

 

Finally, my last race for the year will be on October 29th, the “Spinx Run Fest Marathon“.  This will be my first ever full marathon, 26.2 miles!  I feel ready for it.  2 weeks ago, I ran a 20-miler on the Blue Ridge Parkway and felt great.  The marathon is in Greenville, SC so it will be a lot flatter than it is here in the mountains.  I have been training 6 days a week now, ranging from 40-60 miles a week.  My legs feel great, and I’ve been injury-free ever since I started Chi Running.

 

That’s it for now.  Peace.

The Paleo Diet For Athletes

Saturday I started a new “diet”, if you will.  It is “The Paleo Diet For Athletes”, which is a modified version of “The Paleo Diet.”  The premise behind the whole thing is to eat the same types of food that the early hunter-gatherer groups ate.  So, basically you eat: lean meats, fish, fresh veggies, fresh fruits, and nuts.  That’s it.  No grains, dairy, or processed sugars.  The adapted version for “athletes” allows for certain carbs, electrolytes, and sugars to be eaten before and after training sessions.  The idea is to learn how to fuel your body to perform at maximum potential and then to recover as quickly as you can.  I already feel that my body is recovering faster, and my energy levels are suprisingly high.  I plan to give it about a month or so and see how it goes.

In other news, I signed up for my next race.  The “Morris Broadband Dupont 1/2 Marathon” is the race that I mentioned in my previous post.  Training for it has been going great!  I had an awesome, long run this past Saturday on the Mountains to Sea trail.  I ran almost 9.5 miles and felt great.  I think my ChiRunning practices are coming along well, and running feels good.  My weekly mileage is above 20 miles now, and I’m feeling great.  Last fall, at this mileage stage, I started to have knee pain.  So the fact that I’m totally pain-free is awesome!

Isaac Dickson Hot Chocolate 10K

This past Saturday I ran my 1st 10K and the 2nd race of my running “career”.  It was awesome!!!  I totally hit my pace goal, and felt great during and afterwards.  My goal was to finish right at or just under 50 minutes, which equals right at about an 8 minute mile pace.  My “chip” finish time was 49:46 and I finished 154 out of 825 people!  I was also 27th out of 58 in my age group (male 30-34).  For me, this race was a real confidence booster.  I set a goal and nailed it.  I trained hard, but didn’t overdo it and got the results I wanted.  My Chi Running practices really paid off.  Even though I ran harder and for longer than any of my training runs, I still felt great after the race.  I really focused on my form and not only did the race seem to fly by, but it almost felt effortless!

This week I started my training for my next race which is in April.  It is the Morris Broadband Dupont 1/2 Marathon.  This half marathon will be my 3rd race and my second half marathon.  However, it will be my first trail race.  I’m super excited about it.  I plan on doing the same thing with my training….sticking with the plan and not overdoing it.  While training for my first 1/2 marathon, I made a lot of mistakes.  I ran hard every time and just overworked my system.  I paid for it with an injury and a bad race time.  My goal is to keep my 8 minute mile pace, but for the 1/2 marathon distance.  This will be a challenge because it is a trail race, and there are a lot of hills.  But I think I can do it.

In other news, my fitness goals are going great.  I’ve been very consistent with my strength training, and my weight loss is coming along great.  I’ve lost about 6lbs in 3 weeks and feel great.  I hope to be at my goal weight for the 1/2 marathon.  Over the next few weeks I plan on tracking not only my calories, but also my nutrients…meaning that I want to see how much protein, carbs, fat, sodium, etc. I’m consuming on a daily basis and adjust accordingly.

Well, that’s it for now.  I hope to post some more training tips next week.

My Fitness and Running Goals for 2011

2010 was a pretty good year for me.  I finally started working out and stuck with it. I started eating better, and found out that I really love to run.  I turned 30, lost 40lbs, and haven’t felt this good since my Senior year in High School.  So, for 2011 I have some pretty lofty goals for myself….

Running:

1. I would like to run several shorter races this year (5k’s, 10k’s, etc…). I’m already planning on running the 2011 Isaac Dickson Hot Chocolate 10k on January 22 and the 2011 Morris Broadband Dupont 1/2 Marathon on April 9th.

2. I would like to run at least one Full Marathon (trail or road)….Maybe sometime in the late summer or fall.

3. Continue practicing Chi Running, and in doing so, hopefully I’ll continue to run injury-free.

4. I Would like to get my pace under 8 minute miles for longer distances (1/2 marathon & full marathon) and around 7 minute miles for shorter distances (5k’s & 10k’s).

5. I also want to run the Shut-In Ridge run.  This is an 18 mile trail run from the North Carolina Arboretum  to the trailhead for the Mt. Pisgah summit.  Sounds fun!

Fitness:

1. Continue to improve my aerobic capacity and strength.

2. Get my body fat percentage down into the single digits.

3. Consistently strength train at least 3 days a week.

4. Lose 10 to 15 more pounds to be able to run and perform at full potential. This will put me between 165-170 lbs.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now.  The key to keeping any goal is consistency, and that’s probably what I need to work on the most.

My New Vibram Five Fingers & Minimalistic Running

I’m totally excited about my new Vibram Five Finger Trek Sports!  My wife got me these for Christmas this year, and they are awesome.The knee injury I incurred, while training for my first half-marathon back in September, has started a journey for me.  This journey is one to seek and find the most efficient and injury-free way of running.  Currently, I am practicing Chi Running and using minimalistic footwear.  I have started listening to my body and not just pushing through the pain.  Since I have been practicing this way, my running has become easier and more rewarding.

I did my first run today in my new VFF’s and they felt great.  Well, except for the blister they rubbed on the inside of my right foot.  I could really feel how my foot was landing, sense little imperfections, and then correct them.  It was awesome!  I took it easy though.  I wanted to give my feet and legs a chance to adapt to the new shoes.  I ran 2 miles on the treadmill at an easy pace.  I’ve been running in the New Balance MT101 trail shoe.  This is a very lightweight and minimal shoe as well, but it does have a bit more cushion.  I wish I could have run outside, but with 40mph winds and a wind chill of 9 degrees…no thanks.  I don’t have the right apparel for that kind of weather.  This week I hope to write a post about my goals for 2011.  Speaking of which, April will mark 1 year since I started running and decided to get in shape.  Hopefully 2011 will be a great year for running and fitness.

Treadmills don’t have to be the enemy…

If you live in Asheville, or any other city where the weather gets as cold and windy as it was yesterday, you will think twice about braving the elements.  Yesterday morning it was 19 degrees outside with 25 mph winds and 50 mph gusts.  Needless to say, I didn’t run outside.  I decided to hit the gym and do a pyramid workout on the treadmill.  If you’re like me, you hate running on a treadmill.  It’s boring and feels like the workout takes forever, mainly because you’re running in the same spot.  Well, I’ve found doing intervals or pyramids on the treadmill is a great way to pass the time, while getting in a great workout.  Here’s how it works….

Start with a warm up.

Set the treadmill just below the fastest pace you can comfortably walk (for me it’s between 3.5 mph and 4 mph), then walk half a mile.

Next, move your speed up to a slow, comfortable jogging pace (you should be able to have a conversation at this pace, for me it’s 6 mph), then jog for half a mile.  You have now finished your 1 mile warm up.

Now let’s pick up the pace.  Your warm up and cool down sections should always stay the same, but the middle portion of your workout can vary depending on what you want to accomplish.  Here is what I did today.  After my warm up, I kicked the pace up to 6.5 mph and stayed there for half a mile, then 7 mph for half a mile, then up to 7.5 mph for half a mile.  This was the top of my pyramid.  After 7.5 mph I went back down to 7 mph for half a mile, then 6.5 mph for half a mile.  So my pyramid was 2.5 miles.

Cool down:  After 6.5 mph I lowered the speed back to 6 mph for another half mile, then went down to 3.5 mph for another half mile to finish my cool down and my workout.  Yesterday’s total was 4.5 miles on the treadmill.

Constantly changing the speed really helps the time fly by.  Also, running on the the treadmill is a great way to focus on your form.  You don’t have to worry about the terrain or your surroundings.  This was good for me yesterday.  I’ve been practicing Chi Running for about 4 weeks or so and have mainly been running on trails.  I didn’t have to worry about where my foot was going to land.  I was able to really focus on my form, which was a good thing.

Anyways, try incorporating intervals or pyramids on the treadmill into your weekly routine during this cold season.  Who knows?  It might really help your form and your speed.

How I did it (my weight loss strategy) Part 2

I wrote earlier about how I changed my eating habits, so now let’s talk about my exercise routine.  Just to forewarn you, this is not some revolutionary exercise plan.  Your plan doesn’t have to be either.  The key ingredient with any exercise plan is consistency.  Basically, I got myself to the gym 3 to 4 times a week and did a combination of cardio, weight training, and core stregthening.  Every time I went to the gym I did a least 30 minutes of cardio, 45 minutes of weight training, and 15 minutes of core exercises.  This hour and a half, 3 to 4 times a week, was none negotiable.

Here’s what I did for cardio….

For the first 2 months my cardio was pretty simple.  I got on the treadmill and ran for 30 minutes.  Yeah that’s it.  I started at 5mph, and when that got easy, I slowly moved it up.  After a couple of months of this, I wanted to start running outside, and that’s when I really started to like running.  I began running 3 miles 3 to 4 times a week.  Once I decided to start training for the half-marathon, my distances changed.  But I was still only running 3 to 4 times a week.  That was all I did for cardio.

Here’s what I did for weight training….

I decided to do circuit training 3 days a week.  This meant I would work all of my muscle groups every time I did my weight training.  I did high reps with low weight.  I started with free weights and worked every muscle group with about 15 reps.  Then I would go to the machines and do the same…every muscle group at 15 reps.  Then I would do what I call “body weight training”, meaning you use your body weight (push ups, pull ups, dips, lunges, etc…).  I would do the same, work every muscle group, only this time do as many reps as I could.  I realize this might be a bit confusing for some, so let me show you how a typical day at the gym looked for me.

* Treadmill for 30 minutes

* Free Weights (dumbbells) – 15 reps: chest press, curls, tricep extensions, shoulder press, lateral pulls, lunges, and calf raises

* Machine Weights – 15 reps: chest fly, curls, tricep push, shoulder raises, back pulls, leg press, calf extensions

* Body Weight Training (as many as you can do) – push ups, dips, pull ups, wall sit (as long as you can), wall jumps

* Core Training – 3 sets 15 reps each: incline crunch, leg raises, side raises (on equipment both sides), lower back raises (on equipment)

That’s all folks.  I may have varied a little, but for the most part that was it.  If I exercised a 4th day, I would only do cardio (running). Like I said before, it’s nothing revolutionary.  You just have to be consistent.  Please let me know if you have questions about any of the exercises or the specifics.  I really do want to help you achieve your goal.  I may not have all the answers, but I do know what worked for me, and I probably know someone who does have the answer.  The key is consistency!  That goes with eating or exercising.  Stay consistent.

 

How I did it (my weight loss strategy) Part 1

Well, I thought I would start off with a post sharing my story and how I accomplished my weight  loss goal.  I started my journey the first week in April of this year (2010).  I decided it was time to stop talking about losing weight and actually do it.  My starting weight was 220lbs, and I felt terrible.  I had no energy, had frequent headaches, and I knew something had to change.  There are 2 main things I changed in my weekly/daily routine to accomplish my goal.

1. Eat better

2. Exercise

I know, sounds too easy, right?  Well, sounding easy and actually being easy are 2 different things.

Lets talk about how I changed my eating habits.  I decided until I reached my goal I was going to avoid ALL processed sugar!  Yeah, this means all sweets, all kinds of white bread and other carbs, and any dressings with sugar.  I didn’t stop eating carbs like some popular diets suggest.  I just started eating the right carbs.  I switched to whole grain/high fiber breads and organic granola cereal.  I also stopped eating all dairy for the first month or so.  No milk, no cheese, or anything with any kind of dairy in it.  I also stayed away from beef for the first month.  Choosing only to eat chicken and fish, baked only, I stopped eating all fried food as well.  I made sure I drank plenty of water… most of the time we feel hungry, we are really just dehydrated.  Along with staying away from certain foods I also kept track of my calorie intake.  I limited my calories to about 1600 a day.  Depending on your height and build this may be different for you.  I found a cool app for my phone called “Lose It”, it helps you track you calories and exercise activities and does the calculations for you.  You may be asking, “so what did you eat?”  Glad you asked.

Here is what a typical day looked like for me…

Breakfast:  1 banana, 1/2 organic almond butter sandwich, 1 hard boiled egg (whites only)

Lunch:  spring mix salad w/organic balsamic vinagrette dressing (1 tablespoon) and chopped egg whites or chicken, organic almond butter sandwich, and 1 orange or an apple

Dinner:  Baked chicken, steamed green beans, baked sweet potato (plain)

Snacks:  I would snack a couple of times a day on fresh fruit, almonds, and organic granola.

That’s it.  But it’s hard.  If anyone tries to give you a quick, easy fix for weight loss, it won’t work.  It is worth it, though!  As you may have noticed I didn’t do much eating out or any fast food.  Not only is this healthy for you, it will also save you a lot of money.

Part 2 will come tomorrow, and I will share my exercise routine and how running helped me achieve my goal.

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