Tag Archives: Physical exercise

February into March Challenge Update

February didn’t go quite as I had planned.  I started out pretty good, but quickly realized that I couldn’t do the 7 minute workout each day without getting injured.  So I revised the plan to do either the 7 minute workout or the Lolo Jones workout each day.   I did corework on at least 20 of the 28 days in February, I tried to keep accurate records but didn’t always remember t0.  I totally forgot once, remembered while laying in bed at least once, and then got sick last weekend…  Now I just need to kick myself back into it and continue doing core work!

Overall, February has been a long month.  One of the coldest and snowiest years on record for the Twin Cities has meant many cold runs and hard to pull yourself out of bed mornings.  And lots of shoveling snow.  March is traditionally the snowiest month, so that should be interesting!  I think we’ve had 3 days above freezing in 2014 and something like 40 days that have been sub-zero at some point during the day. We’ve also had an unprecedented 6 days with no school.  Ugh!  We have done our best to embrace winter, Art Shanties, Ice Caves, and snowshoeing, but all the super-cold has meant that it has been hard to get the kids out to enjoy the cold weather!

February numbers:

5 trainer rides – I had hoped for 8.

Ran 33 miles – I had hoped for 50.

Here’s hoping March will be a better month.  With changes in our schedule, I was hoping to be able to start biking to work – but it looks like there will be snow and ice on the roads for the foreseeable future.  I still have my old steel road bike and I might try to get it ready for winter biking.

March 30 Day Challenge

My 30 Day Challenge for March is:

Unsubscribe, de-friend, unfollow – Time for some spring cleaning.  Clean out your inbox or news feed by getting rid of some unwanted/unneeded clutter!

This can be done all at once or each day. I think I’m going to focus on one area each week and get rid of 7 things.  So today I’ll unsubscribe from 7 e-mail newsletters, next week 7 Twitter Followers, then 7 Facebook friends, then 7 RSS feeds.  Then I’ll just find 3 more things to get rid of!  When I did this before I found that once you start it is hard to stop!  I think the hardest challenge will be the RSS feeds, but that will potentially have the most time saving focus for me!

Other goals:

  • I would like to continue doing core work every other day 16/31 days.
  • I would like to hit 50 miles running miles for the month.
  • I would like to ride my bike at least 10 times this month (hopefully some outside).

How did you do on your February goals? What do you have planned for March?

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January into February Challenge Update


7 (Photo credit: mag3737)

I exceeded my January Challenge of “Get rid of something every day”!

During the last few days of Christmas (winter) break I was able to do some cleaning in the basement.  When Caleb was born we basically took all the stuff from his room into the basement! I threw away some broken baby equipment, broken electronics, and some other junk.  I also created several boxes of garage sale stuff that will go to my school’s annual garage sale.  I added some books and clothes to round up the variety of other stuff!

I lost track of how much stuff I actually got rid of but it was definitely over 31 items.   Did you participate? What did you get rid of?

I also took on the January Challenge of running 50 miles laid out by Minneapolis Running.   Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it.  I ran 39 miles total.  I was on track and then one Sunday I hurt my back getting Caleb out of the Rav4.  I took almost a week off and then did an easy run.  Looking at the calendar of my workouts they are all over the place! The biggest challenge to consistency has been my wife’s work schedule and then the ridiculous weather we’ve been having.  Though some of my runs were actually on days when school was cancelled and day care was open!!

I also did 1 bike workout a week with the longest being 1:15.  And a couple of snowshoes!

Looking into February my challenge is to do the 7 minute workout each day!  If you haven’t heard about the 7 minute work out the New York Times has a nice article about it.  It is basically doing 12 exercises for 30 seconds each.  The exception in the app I’m using is that side planks are held for 20 seconds on each side. The American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal has an article about programs similar to the 7 minute workout and has this to say about it:

The following is an example of a 12-station HICT program. All exercises can be done with body weight and implements easily acquired in almost any setting (e.g., home, office, hotel room, etc.). The exercise order allows for a total body exercise to significantly increase the heart rate while the lower, upper, and core exercises function to maintain the increased heart rate while developing strength.

Exercises are performed for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of transition time between bouts. Total time for the entire circuit workout is approximately 7 minutes. The circuit can be repeated 2 to 3 times.

1. Jumping jacks Total body

2. Wall sit Lower body

3. Push-up Upper body

4. Abdominal crunch Core

5. Step-up onto chair Total body

6. Squat Lower body

7. Triceps dip on chair Upper body

8. Plank Core

9. High knees/running in place Total body

10. Lunge Lower body

11. Push-up and rotation Upper body

12. Side plank Core

The article doesn’t actually highlight the strength building aspects of the workout but does seem to indicate that overall health markers such as insulin and VO2Max can improve with a High Intensity Circuit Training workout.  There are also clear fat-loss benefits.

Right now we have the “Seven” app on our iPad to do the 7-minute workout. Right now that is working pretty well. It has a tracker but you have to do the workouts within at least 48 hours of each other or it will delete the record.  Which app do you use for the 7 minute workout?

Incidentally, Minneapolis Running also decided to do a strength (core) challenge for February.  They offer 5 great core workouts to try.  Their challenge is every other day.  I’ve done the Lolo Jones workout that they highlight and it is a good one!

For February my running goals will be to hit 50 miles this month and to average 2 bike workouts a week!

How did you do on your January goals?  What do you have in store for February?

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A Look at Heart Rate Training

After a scare on a run in January where it felt like my heart was in my throat the doctor encouraged me to start wearing a heart rate monitor and to keep my workouts under 60% of my Maximum Heart Rate.

Note: The doctors said my heart appeared to be very healthy and they assumed I had had a cold (weather) induced asthma attack.  The heart rate is more of a precautionary tool to monitor my pulse during workouts in case it happens again.  They prescribed an inhaler and wearing something to cover my mouth/nose to help warm up the air.

Remember the conversion?  220 minus your age equals maximum heart rate.  So my current max is 220 – 29 = 191.  60% of that is 114.  If you’ve followed my workouts you know that I’ve not been anywhere close to that.  That is super low. I used an online calculator to determine my training zones and came up with these zones:

  • Fat Burning: From 128 to 141 beats per minute
  • Aerobic: From 141 to 153 beats per minute
  • Steady State: From 153 to 166 beats per minute
  • Anaerobic: From 166 to 178 beats per minute
  • Maximal: From 178 to 191 beats per minute

There is some variation in terms and the number of training zones.  For example, Polar share three – light, moderate, and hard. So here is how the web calculator breaks it down:
Fat Burning (50 to 60%) In this range you are developing your basic endurance and aerobic capacity. This zone is great for burning fat compared to the effort you put in. Other zones will also burn up your fat but you will have to work harder to burn up the same amount.

Aerobic (60 to 70%) This zone is great for your cardiovascular system. This helps your muscles become stronger and more efficient and you develop your bodies ability to transport oxygen to (and carbon dioxide away from) your muscles. You should be spending the majority of your training time in this zone.

Steady State (70 to 80%) Think tempo run.  This is not an easy workout but not super hard or stressful.

Anaerobic (80 to 90%) Entering this zone is a sign that you have become serious about your sport. In this zone your body develops its ability to handle lactic acid. An anaerobic workout takes place when you are working so hard that your body cannot keep up with the production of fuel and oxygen and so you need to dip into your reserves. When you dip into your reserves you produce numerous waste products – principally lactic acid.

Maximal (over 90%) Develops maximum speed and should only be used for short bursts of activity.

I’ve started listening to a podcast produced by Jeff and Diane Kline of PRS Fit and they are huge proponents of heart rate training.  It seems like they would concur with my doctor and that I should spend a lot of time training at the Fat/Aerobic training zones.  They say it will feel really slow at first but over time my speed would come back and my splits would drop.   What do you think about that?

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Resting: 3 Variations

Sleeping cat
Image via Wikipedia

Many runners think that taking a day off is a bad thing.  The thought of not running any miles on a given day is ridiculous.  There is the saying that when you are running 3 miles someone else is running 4, this type of thinking leads into the “no rest” mentality.

Every training program that I’ve followed includes some form of rest/recovery in it.  Resting is an important part of allowing your body, especially your muscles the chance to heal and repair themselves.  To improve, muscles need a chance to create new fibers and generally get stronger.  Running – even an easy jog will tear muscle fibers that need healed.

Resting can mean a lot of different things though.  Below are several types of rest:

1) Doing nothing. This is generally what we think of when using the word rest.  Doing no strenous physical activity.

2) Cross-training.  Biking, Swimming, Rowing, Elipticating  – doing some type of physical exercise that isn’t running and doesn’t use your main running muscles.  Elipticating might actually be a bad form of cross-training but it is a fun word to write.

3) Active Rest. I think of this as doing nothing strenous but maybe doing something moderate or different than normal.  Going for a longer walk than normal, doing more yard work than normal. Basically doing something that isn’t necessarily strenuous but isn’t sitting around on the coach.

I would advocate that doing absolutely nothing every now and then is a good thing.  I am a huge proponent of cross-training at least one day a week.  Most types of cross-training will actually help your running.

One thing I’m learning more and more is that it is important to understand your body and what you need to stay healthy and fit.  A few days off in any given week isn’t going to kill your training plan.  But a well thought out resting strategy can be crucial to race-day success.

Bonus Tip: There is a way to get 24 hours of rest and still run every day.  If you run in the morning on Monday and then in the evening on Tuesday, you have given your body 24 hours of rest in between runs.  What you do on Wednesday is tricky, but you still got a “rest day” without writing down a zero.  If you run Wednesday morning prepare for it to be a crappy run (especially if Tuesday was a hard workout).  You could mitigate this by doing a lunch-time run.

[tags] running, resting, rest [/tags]

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Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis
Image via Wikipedia

This post is popular, but I also wanted to point out an updated 18 steps to get rid of Plantar Fasciitis.

I’ve been enduring the pain of Plantar Fasciitis in my heel for most of this training cycle.  When  I first started feeling the pain I took almost a week off.  While the pain has never gone away it does ebb and flow.  It hurts the most in the mornings and then kind of tapers off throughout the day, likewise at the beginning of a run it hurts and then loosens itself up. Some days the pain is worse than others.  I’ve been icing and popping pills throughout.

As the weather has gotten nicer and I’ve been biking, I decided to see what the research said about biking and Plantar Fasciitis.  I didn’t want to make it worse by biking.  Fortunately, biking seems to be okay – but running and walking aren’t.

One thing that the resources I present below don’t talk about is checking your shoes – ensuring that your shoes haven’t been overused, in mileage or showing excessive wear.  I also found previously that I needed to check all my shoes – even casual and business ones.  A few years ago my work shoes were really worn down in the heels and I couldn’t figure out why my heels hurt so much.  I switched shoes and the pain quickly went away.  We spend a lot of time in our casual/work shoes – ensure they are working properly as well.

I love some of the simplicity of these ideas and the humor as well.  There are plenty of good tips though.

I found a website called Heel Spurs that lists a few simple treatments for Plantar Fasciitis:

  1. Stretching,
  2. Ice,
  3. Tape,
  4. Rest,
  5. Arch support, and
  6. Losing weight

Another website for North Coast Foot Care provides some more in-depth ideas:

  1. Stop running, jogging or walking. Swim or bike instead.
  2. If you work out on a treadmill, stop! This is the worst activity for your heels.
  3. Avoid the stair stepper. The stair stepper puts a lot of stress through your arch.
  4. If you are up and down at work a lot, try to limit it, and get up only once an hour, or once every 2 hours.
  5. At home, avoid going up and down the stairs multiple times. Have your spouse, significant other or child run up or down for you.
  6. Try to avoid steep hills. Stairs are better than hills. Walking up the stairs sideways will help take the stress off your feet.
  7. Do not lift or carry heavy items. This adds to the total amount of force that goes through your feet. This also increases the total impact on your heel.
  8. Do not lift your kids and carry them. Use a stroller, have them walk, or let your spouse/significant other carry them.
  9. Don’t lift weights. If you do, make sure you are seated
  10. The EFX (elliptical) machine at the gym can also aggravate plantar fasciitis. If you must exercise with this, lower the platform adjustment to it’s lowest level.

As well as some specific ideas for athletes:

  1. The best approach is to rest the foot for 10-14 days.
  2. Cross train by road or mountain biking, swimming or weight lifting.
  3. Do all the therapy outlined on the about heel pain page.
  4. Be aggressive about this treatment, stretching as much as possible throughout the day and
  5. Icing or contrasting between hot and cold as much as your schedule allows.
  6. Swim for exercise, or bike at low resistance at the gym and avoid the recumbent bike. If you bike outside, spin up the hills (use the lowest gears). Of course it is better to avoid hills if possible. Do not drop your heel while cycling, this puts excess stress through the Achilles tendon and the arch. Wear cycling shoes, or rigid shoes while cycling.
  7. Consider weight lifting. Avoid standing while lifting weights. Avoid squats, calf lifts and quad bench presses. There are many areas that we tend to avoid when we focus on specific training, especially the upper body. Try to readjust your focus for a few weeks.
  8. If you have pain at any time during the return, taper your routine accordingly. If you have a small amount of pain, then don’t increase the mileage or intensity, or give it a day’s break to rest and ice and stretch. If you have a lot of pain when you return, then you should take a full two weeks off from the activity and see your physician to consider more aggressive therapy. Physical therapy and orthotics would be good treatments to add.

I will say I’ve felt the best on Monday’s after swimming and sitting in the hot tub on Sunday mornings and any day after resting.  I’ve continued to stretch and ice, occasionally taking some ibuprofen, but other than that I’ve not done a good job of taking care of my heel!  After the half-marathon I plan on taking some time off and letting it heel some more!!

What have you done to treat Plantar Fasciitis?

[tags] Plantar Fasciitis, Heel, Injuries, Running [/tags]

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