Category

Fitness

How to Train for a Half-Marathon

By | Fitness, Running | No Comments

Want to take your running program to the next level? Training for a half-marathon allows you to truly test the limits of your running ability. You’ll also learn a lot about yourself and your motivations throughout the training process. Distance running not only tests your physical endurance but your ability to remain focused and on task mentally for an extended period as well. You’ll gain a ton of confidence all while learning to overcome adversity and setbacks.

But what if you’re new to training to compete at this distance or even new to running in general? Not to worry. These tips will get you on your way to achieving your half-marathon goals.

Get the Right Shoes And Socks

Nothing will derail your running program more quickly than foot, knee or even back injury caused by wearing improper footwear. During training, your feet will be pounding the pavement for sometimes an hour or more at a time. This can quickly lead to overuse injuries.

Before starting your training regimen, pay a visit to a specialty running shoe store where the associates are trained to measure you for shoes that are the right fit. There is much more to selecting a shoe than merely getting the right the size. For example, runners with high arches may find they need additional arch support, while flat-footed runners may need more padding to absorb impact. Add in some moisture-whisking socks to keep your feet dry during long run days.

Give Yourself Ample Training Time

Training for a race the length of a half-marathon isn’t something you can jump into overnight. It takes time to build up distance and speed, so make sure you give yourself adequate time to train before race day.

If you are a novice runner, select a race that is at least two months out from when you plan to begin training. If you are an advanced runner who already puts in miles daily, you may be able to get away with a slightly shorter time frame. However, don’t underestimate the work it takes to really get ready to run 13.1 miles.

Draw Up A Training Schedule

To meet your goal, you’ll want to outline a manageable training plan that works with your life and your schedule. You’re going to need to commit a good deal of time to your training, so make sure you have a plan for success.

While it’s okay to run on a treadmill when the weather is particularly inclement, for better results, train outside under conditions that are as close to those you’ll encounter on race day. If you live in the race area, drive the race course to get a feel for how hilly it may be. Pay attention to the weather, too. Train in high winds, cold temperatures, high humidity and other conditions you might encounter during the race to ensure that you’re prepared for them.

Fuel Your Body Right

What you eat is just as important as how you train when it comes to half-marathon success. This counts double if you undertook training for a half-marathon to jump-start your weight loss regimen. It can be tempting to restrict calories and rewarding to watch the pounds melt off. But your performance will suffer if you are malnourished when you train.

Consider adding a high-quality protein and vitamin-mineral supplement to your diet. This will help to replace electrolytes lost through heavy duty training as well as provide your body with the building blocks it needs to heal. Adding a protein supplement is particularly vital if you are vegetarian or vegan. Our muscles need the right balance of amino acids to recover after a long run.

Plan Your Celebration Ahead of Time

Finishing a first half-marathon is a huge accomplishment, and it isn’t one that many people have bragging rights for. So plan a nice celebration for yourself after your big race! This could mean a romantic dinner out with your significant other, planning a weekend getaway or just taking a nice, long relaxing bubble bath post-race. Whatever it is you choose to do, be sure to celebrate you! You did it!

How to Stay Safe Running in the Summer Heat

By | Fitness, Running | No Comments

Summer is the best time for outside activities. It stays light later, and there’s less of a chance you’ll be rained on. For runners, these are the best conditions to bump off a couple of miles. However, the summer comes with its danger as well: heat. Exerting yourself during the hottest season of the year can be uncomfortable, unhealthy and dangerous, and a few precautions can go a long way. Here are a few tips for keeping safe during the worst of the summer heat:

1. Run at Night/In the Morning

Wake up early or stay out until the sun is going down. Both times of day will have lower temperatures and, therefore, less chance of heat exhaustion or other dangerous health conditions. Plus, waking up early will give you an awesome energy boost to get through your day.

2. Drink Lots of Water

This one should go without saying. If you don’t like carrying a water bottle while you are running, make sure you run at a location with water available in drinking fountains or otherwise. Dehydration, which is easily preventable, causes many heat-related illnesses.

3. Run in the Shade

If you usually run in an open area — a field or street, for instance — instead look for a route with trees or buildings that provide shade. More shade means a cooler run, and a cooler run means less chance of dehydration and heat exhaustion. Of course, wearing a light-colored hat or visor can keep the worst of the sun off your head and provide your face with a little personal patch of shade.

4. Wear Sunscreen

Sunburns are bad to begin with, and they’re downright agonizing while you are running, and there is nothing to distract you from them. Wearing sunscreen will help protect you from burning, and putting aloe on any previous burns before running will also keep the pain at bay.

5. Wear Light Colors

Dark clothes absorb the sun’s heat much more than light-colored clothing. The difference is the most noticeable during the summer. Wearing light colors will keep you cooler and running longer than darker, heavier clothing.

6. Slow Down

Take a little longer running when it’s hot out. You won’t push your body as hard under already-stressful conditions, and you’ll avoid exhausting yourself partway through the run.

We all love running, but avoiding the heat — and finding better ways to deal with it when unavoidable — is a necessity during the hot summer days. Using these precautions will help you run happier and healthier through the summer.

How to Increase Strength Without Weights

By | Fitness | No Comments

It’s possible to gain strength without going to the gym. It might seem hard to believe at first, but you don’t even need weights to improve your strength. In fact, bodyweight exercises like the pull-up are some of the most effective strength-building exercises.

Learning how to use your own body weight to improve strength is a journey that’s different from any other fitness quest. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

The Benefits

With bodyweight exercises, you can work out anywhere, anytime. You don’t need any special equipment, which is great if you travel a lot, want to save money on a gym membership or live somewhere without easy access to a gym.

Another benefit is the fact that bodyweight strength exercises do more than just build strength. They can also increase your flexibility, help you lose weight, improve your coordination and engage your brain, too.

Bodyweight workouts are typically more about using the whole body than weighted exercises are. To execute the more advanced movements, you have to learn how to use various muscle groups together. Rarely in situations outside the gym do you only use one muscle at a time.

Because of these facts, bodyweight training may be more applicable to real-life situations. Plus, if you stick with it, you might one day be able to perform impressive feats like the human flag.

Tips

Many bodyweight exercises look easier than they are, and those experienced with weight training often think they’ll be able to pull off advanced bodyweight exercises without much practice.

When getting started with bodyweight training, however, it’s important to respect your limitations and start where you are. Just like with other training programs, you need to build up to the advanced workouts. The strength you’ve acquired through other types of training will help you, but you’re also learning an entirely new skill.

Bodyweight training tends to force even experienced athletes to put their egos aside. Not heeding this call can lead to injury.

To help you build up your strength, you also need to use the progressive overload principle. As with other types of strength training, you need to gradually put more and more demand on your muscles so they get stronger over time. You might do this by decreasing the time it takes you to do repetitive exercises like pushups or pull-ups or increasing the amount of time for static exercises like the plank. Eventually, you can progress from standard pull-ups to one-arm pull-ups.

Another critical point that’s worth reiterating is to think about your whole body as you complete your exercises. Pay attention to all the muscles you’re engaging and you’ll be much more successful.

Best Exercises

So what are some bodyweight exercises should you use to build your strength? Here are some to get started with:

  • Pull-ups and chin-ups: Pull-ups and chin-ups are excellent exercises for working the upper body. Pull-ups work the lats harder, while chin-ups put more focus on the biceps. Once you’ve mastered the standard pull-up, you can move on to the around-the-world pull-up or try burpee pull-ups. For an even more advanced version, check out the muscle-up.
  • Pushups: Pushups are another exceptional upper body exercise. The primary muscle they work is the chest. There are plenty of advanced variations for you to try, including decline pushups, diamond pushups and one-arm pushups.
  • Squats: For working the lower body, try bodyweight squats. Also, try the wall squat and jump squat to take things to the next level.
  • Planks: There are many different bodyweight exercises made for working the abs, and the plank is one of the best. You can add a twist or a pushup for an extra challenge.

You don’t necessarily need any equipment to do a great strength-building workout. If you know how to use it, all you really need is your bodyweight. These tips can help you get started, but where you take your bodyweight exercise journey from there is up to you.

10 Best Exercises for People Who Aren’t Flexible 

By | Fitness | No Comments

It’s no secret exercise is essential for a healthier lifestyle. Weightlifting is loaded with health benefits, ranging from osteoporosis treatment to getting beach-body-ready. Jogging can help lower blood pressure, and fitness classes can help build relationships and grow your social circle!

But what about flexibility?

Health experts believe your genetic makeup mostly determines your level of flexibility. However, if you exercise, you can improve your flexibility by roughly 20 to 25 percent.

These simple exercises are a reliable way to help you reach your flexibility goals.

1. Downward-Facing Dog

Stand with your feet even with your hips — the wider the stance, the easier the stretch will be if you’re just starting out. Bend at the waist and put your hands flat on the ground at about shoulder-width apart. Be sure your spine is straight, and if you feel uncomfortable, shift your weight from one foot to the other to help alleviate the slow burn, or bend at the knees.

2. Child’s Pose

This pose is a rest position you can use during any yoga circuit. Kneel on the floor, with your feet underneath your buttocks. Put your arms in front of your head, so your back is in a straight line and your head is resting on the ground. Child’s pose makes an excellent recovery position.

3. C-Curve

Most people who have desk jobs carry tension in their lower back. Here is a stretch that will target this tight area. Sit on the floor and bend at the knees, with your feet about 12 inches in front of your glutes. Hug your thighs by wrapping your arms around your hamstrings, and allow your elbows to point out. Let your back curve in the shape of a “C” and inhale. During your inhale, lengthen your spine, and on the exhale, tuck your chin toward your chest.

4. Planks

Do you have a hard time keeping your balance in all these stretches? Strengthen your core with planks. Lie facing down on your forearms with your toes touching the ground. Push up and off the ground, and hold the position as long as you can while keeping your spine and legs straight. The longer you can go, the stronger your core.

5. Standing Hamstring Stretch

Stand with your feet even with your hips. Bend at the waist and wrap your arms around the backs of your legs, or try to touch your toes. Hold this position anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes.

6. Cobra

Lie face-down on the ground and place your hands flat at shoulder-width. Press your hands into the floor, and with straight legs, push your chest and stomach off the floor and hold. Flex your glute muscles and be sure to keep your shoulders away from your ears.

7. Lunges

Many sports teams use these as warm-up stretches. Take a long step forward, and bend both your front and back legs at 90-degree angles. Try to touch your back knee to the ground, while maintaining a straight back. Putting your weight into your front leg, take your next step and switch knees.

8. Triceps Stretch

You can do this exercise standing or sitting, whichever works best. Lifting one arm above your head, bend it at the elbow so the palm of your hand faces your back. With the other hand, gently push down on the bent elbow. Switch arms and repeat on the other side.

9. Butterfly

Sitting on the ground, open your bent knees outward while letting the bottoms of your feet touch. Slowly bend your body forward while activating your core and try to get your knees to touch the floor while holding your feet.

10. Tree Pose

This exercise is an excellent test of core muscles and balance. Stand on one leg while placing your other foot on the ankle, calf or thigh on the leg that is “rooted” into the ground. You can put your palms together at your center, or branch them out by reaching to either side. The stronger the core, the stronger the tree.

Feel Good From Head to Toe-Touches

Gaining flexibility is a process, and it won’t happen overnight. However, with a little practice and determination, you’ll be able to see improvements over time, and you’ll feel better overall as well!