Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Resolution for Running & Fitness

Happy New Year!  It's time to make some resolutions regarding your fitness.  Maybe you want to run your first 5K.  Maybe you want to run faster or simply lose weight.  Perhaps you'd like to try a new distance like a half or even full marathon.  It's really up to you.

If you did not meet your goals for 2011, there is no reason to give up.  2012 is a whole new start.  If you are a runner, look back in your running log (or computer) and I bet you will see why you were just short of your goals.  The training log does not lie.

There are lots of reasons we don't hit our goals.  Perceived lack of time, personal matters, injuries, etc... All of these can be fixed. 

Perceived lack of time:  Treat your fitness like any other necessity...make an appointment.  Set a time of day, on certain days of the week, and commit to that time just as if it were an appointment. Let's face it, we could all watch a little less T.V.  Actually, watch all the T.V. you want...but work out while watching, on commercials, or record your shows, exercise and then watch them commercial free.

Personal Matters: While going through difficult times, the last thing on your mind is probably fitness.  But keep this in mind.  Exercising can actually clear your mind...make you see things more clearly.  Most of the solutions I've come up with to problems, have been while I was training or shortly after.

Injuries:  Let's face's hard to log miles while suffering a leg or foot injury.  However, that doesn't mean you have to stop training.  Work your upper body with weights.  Get in the pool where there is no impact at all.  Be creative and you can stay in shape through cross training.

One other reason for not hitting our fitness goals is not having a proper plan.  If you are doing the same thing over and over, and not seeing results, something is wrong.  Maybe you're not training hard enough.  It's even possible that you are training too hard.  Again, review your exercise log and a lot will be revealed.

Good luck in 2012 - as the Mayan Calendar shows, it's not the end, but the start of a new beginning.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Certified Track & Field Coach in Asheville, NC

I just passed my USATF (USA Track & Field) Developmental Certification Exam!  I am now a Certified Track & Field Coach.  If you or anyone you know needs help with sprints, hurdles, long jump, triple jump, shot put or discus events in the Asheville or Buncombe County area, please let them know about me, Coach John Noce, and this site.

The USATF and the NFHS (National Federation of State High Schools Associations) have teamed up to offer a great online course for anyone that's interested.  It's reasonably priced and since it's online, easy to take classes when it's convenient for you.

Friday, December 23, 2011

New Year's Day 5K in Asheville - Resolution Run

Looking to Run a 5K in 2012?  Why put off what you can do right away?  If you're up for it...the Asheville Track Club will host a "Resolution Run" on January 1st.  This is run through Biltmore Forest which should mean a beautiful run!  Details below are copied from the ATC website.

"The Asheville Track Club will be hosting a Resolution Run on January 1 2012 at 2:00PM for current ATC members. Registration will be in the South Forest Ingles parking lot starting at 1:00PM.   

The run will begin across Hendersonville Rd on Busbee Rd just inside Biltmore Forest. The finish of the run will be behind the Biltmore Forest Town Hall next to the police station. 

This is a free run to all ATC members in good standing. If you want to run and are not a member just join the Club on the spot and you will get an ATC t-shirt and you can run. 

There will be something at the finish line for everyone. This is a low key, fun race so come and enjoy your first run of 2012!"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas Gift Ideas for Runners

Roadrunner Sports has free shipping and 10% off with no minimum purchase.  This is a great place to do all your shopping for that special runner in your life.

Core strength is very important to runners.  A strong core makes a strong runner.  The Ab Circle Pro is a great way to get in an abs workout, no matter what the weather is like outside.

ab circle pro 30 day trial

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Will Running Help with Depression?

Recently, someone asked me "Will Running Help with Depression?".  Without hesitation, I responded with a solid "YES!"  I've been running since 1983 and during that time, I've had to battle a lot of personal issues that would depress anyone.  In fact, looking back, it would be easy to say that I wasn't running for something, but rather running away from my problems.  Actually, while I may have been running away from problems, I was at the same time running toward solutions.

I could go into how running releases natural pain killers called endorphins, but I won't get into the scientific aspects.  Let's just say that running has always given me a sense of well being.  When I'm done with a run - even one that didn't go so well, I still have a sense that I've done something.  Completed something.  I feel proud of myself for getting out there and trying. 

Running also clears my mind.  I think better when I run.  Maybe it's the hypnotic sound of my rhythmic steps and breathing.  Maybe it's the fresh air.  Perhaps it's the sounds of nature as I run along a river or on a trail deep in the woods.  Regardless, I feel free when I run.

In essence, I personally would recommend running any day of the week over drugs or therapy.  I'm sure many will disagree with me on that, but that is how strongly I feel about running.  Keep in mind, I'm talking about feeling down and sad.  If someone were suicidal, or otherwise extremely depressed, naturally I would recommend professional help.  However, I'm talking about the majority of people.  The ones who life just pushes around sometimes.  Maybe more than it should.  Without running as an outlet, I'm not sure how I would have made it this far in life. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Get in Shape by Being a Kid Again

Want to be in great shape without having to go to a gym all the time or run miles upon miles?  Why not try being a kid again.  Run, swim, climb, bike, jump (play leap frog, jump rope, hop scotch), join a sport, and choose the right drink (more on this later)...

I know you may think I'm crazy, but hear me out on this one:
  • Running:
    Naturally, this is my favorite.  But I'm actually not talking about long distance running.  I'm talking about short sprints like when playing tag, Ultimate Frisbee, running away from the girls or boys who we all knew at a young age had cooties.  Sprinting is a great exercise for working your anaerobic system and giving you a fat torching workout.  Next time you're at the park with your kids or your significant a game of tag, or race to the will be fun.
  • Swimming:
    Have you ever seen a kid near a lake or ocean, who didn't want to swim?  Swimming is a great way to get exercise with very little impact.  It also works your entire body which is great too! 
  • Climbing:
    Kids are natural climbers.  They want to climb trees, rocks, etc...  Climbing causes you to use a variety of skills and senses.  Looking for the place to grab or place your foot, feeling for grooves that will provide a grip, pushing off with your legs, pulling up with your arms, etc...  It's an amazing way to use muscles that you may not use that often.  Next time you're at a park, release your inner monkey and climb a tree.
  • Biking
    Remember as kid when you got the new baseball card, or wanted to head to a friends house.  Did you walk?  Nah...You hopped on your bike so you could get there in record time.  Biking is great exercise and in fact, there are tons of debates on Biking v.s. Running: Which is better?  Personally, I think it's an individual's preference.  Next time you have to go to the bank or the store down the street - go green and get some exercise by riding your bike.
  • Jumping
    Jump rope, leap frog, hopscotch...all are very fun and very exhausting.  If you watch late night infomercials, you will no doubt hear the word "Plyometrics" or "jump training".  Guess don't need to be a personal trainer to know this is a good workout.  Kid's have known forever!
  • Team Sports
    Do you love watching basketball, baseball, or some other sport on T.V.?  Why not participate.  There are so many ways to play team sports - even as an adult.  Join a group at the Y, join an adult Soccer or softball league, or any of a dozen other sports.
  • Best Recovery Drink
    As a kid, I hated milk, but absolutely loved chocolate milk.  It's funny, because at my kid's elementary school, some teachers frown on the kids getting chocolate milk.  I think they are just focusing on the word chocolate.

    As a matter fact, 1% low fat chocolate milk is considered to be the best recovery drink after a tough workout (or recess...) because it has everything the body needs: It replaces liquids which the body has lost due to sweating, has carbs which an athlete needs for fuel, has protein which repairs muscles, and has electrolytes.  Mooove over Gatorade - there's a new sports drink in town!
There are many other ways not mentioned here, but rather than list them all - just observe kids and see what they do.  You'll have a blast and never realize you're exercising!

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Trail Running in the Fall

    I absolutely love running on trails, especially in the fall.  Going around a lake with the leaves changing colors and breathing in that crisp cool air is just so invigorating.  However, there are some hazards to be aware of when trail running in the fall.

    Fall is hunting season in many places.  Make sure to wear bright colors when running.  This way, you are not mistaken for whatever is in season.  If you don't have bright colors, whistle while you run, sing a song, talk to something - so it's clear you are not an animal.

    Fall is also when the leaves are...well...falling.  While it sure looks pretty, the leaves obscure things on the trail such as rocks, roots, stumps, etc...  These can all be tripping hazards, so make sure to shorten your stride and be alert.  If you do find yourself falling, look toward a soft patch.  We tend to go where we are looking...even when falling.  By focusing on the rock or stump, you will actually tend to fall toward it.  Look away and aim for the soft patch!

    Hopefully this helps.  Get out there and enjoy the leaves!

    Happy trails!

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Richmond Hill Trails in Asheville, NC

    Well, I got tired of waiting for the maps to show up on the various trail websites, so I created my own Trail Map for the Richmond Hill trails.  It is not to scale - does not show every twist and turn to be sure - but it should give you a general idea of the trails if you are new to them.

    Basically, just follow the yellow signs and arrows for the main loop - but if you see the enticing trails that shoot off here and you'll know where they go.

    Please let me know any feedback - additions, subtractions, etc...


    Click on image to enlarge

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Review of Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove

    Recently I purchased a pair of Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove running shoes.  These are minimalist shoes that promise a barefoot experience.  I have been so happy with my FiveFingers, that I thought I'd give these a try as well. Here's my review of the Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves.

    My first reaction to them is....Ouch!  It's not an impact thing like I had with the Five Fingers at first...this is actual pain.  You see, there is a seam at the back of the shoe that runs vertical at the heel.  This seam rubbed me raw on both feet before I even ran 2 miles!  To be was the first time I've worn them.  I was wearing really thin socks also.  I've had amazing luck with running shoes over the years so this is a first for me.  I will try them again with thicker socks and hopefully that will stop the seam from rubbing.

    On the good side...they are very comfortable when you first put them on and incredibly light weight.  They fit very snug in the width and actually remind me much more of my old Nike racing flats, than a "barefoot" shoe.  Originally, I was confused why the FiveFingers needed the toes...they look so weird.  However, having now run in the Merrells, it really does make a difference.  The Merrells just seem like racing flats, while the FiveFingers feel like I'm running barefoot.

    As of right now, if you want a minimalist shoe with a "barefoot" experience...I would certainly recommend the Vibram Five Fingers over the Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves.  However, I will try them some more with thicker socks as I stated above.  Perhaps after they break in, they will feel better while running.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Review of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition

    Did you watch Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition last night (7/25/11)?  I was so very impressed with the woman.  She ran a 1/2 marathon which is not easy.  Especially for someone so overweight.  Given her personal problems, I was even more impressed.

    I have to say, I was disappointed in Chris, the trainer.  I understand that ABC wants to make good, exciting T.V. but there comes a time when enough is enough.  Chris motivated the woman by offering her the car of her dreams if she hit her goal.  She made the goal and earned a 2010 Camaro.  First off, I would be ecstatic.  Don't get me wrong.  But let's look at it a little closer.
    • The woman was in financial hardship due to the medical bills.  
    • She has a daughter that requires some extra care.  
    • The family had only 1 car which the husband used to go to and from work, leaving the mother and daughter "stranded" at home.  

    I get all that.  A second car does come in handy.  Our family has one.  But was a 2010 Camaro the best gift?  Again....great for T.V. but not the best for the woman in my opinion.  A 2010 Camaro is going to be lousy on gas, ridiculous to insure, and not very family friendly.  Have you ever tried to put a car seat and then a small child into that car seat in the back of a Camaro/Firebird?  I have...that's why I no longer have one (I miss you '89 firebird...).  They just don't work!  I think she would have been much better awarded with a family sedan or even a mini-van. 

    With that said, I was glad that Chris acknowledged her personal problems in his summary.  I was also impressed to see that she became a personal trainer after her experience.  I will often speak about looking for experience when searching for a trainer.  Her personal experience could certainly benefit others and be a source of inspiration to them.

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    How to Make Running More Fun

    Getting bored with the same old running route?  That's a problem a lot of runners have from time to time.  Most runners, myself included, have a couple of courses that we like to run.  We like them because there are landmarks (that mailbox is 1 mile to go...),  it feels safe, or perhaps its just plain easy.  But let's face can get really boring after awhile. Keep in mind...boring is not motivating.

    So how can you break the boredom and stay motivated?  Get off your self-imposed treadmill and go exploring!

    You probably have set amount of time that you run on any given day.  Maybe it's an hour.  Maybe it's 30 minutes. The point is, rather than run the same old route, go out and just run for 30 minutes.  Explore some side streets.  Cross the main drag and go off exploring the other side of the neighborhood.  Hop on a trail you haven't explored before.

    Sometimes I set my watch to count down and repeat.  I set it for 15 minutes.  I just run in a direction, and when the watch beeps at 15 minutes, I turn around and head home the same way to see if I can get back quicker.  Other times, I just wander my neighborhood.  I go down side streets I've never been down.  Once, I found a great trail that heads off along a creek I wasn't even aware of.  The point is...running this way makes it fun again rather than a chore as it can often feel like.

    So next time you're feeling bored with the same old running route, just pull a Columbus and head off in a direction and get lost.  You'll be amazed at what you'll discover!

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Working Out While on a Cruise

    I recently got back from a 7 day cruise to the Western Caribbean.  It was awesome!  The problem I had, as anyone would, was all the food and constant events, shows, shore excursions, etc... So how do you keep in shape while on a cruise?  Two things will help: Make sure you don't eat too much and get in some exercise.

    First off, the average cruiser gains 7 to 14 pounds on a 7 day cruise.  This is according to the Norwegian Cruise Lines' fitness trainer.  Why?  Because there is food everywhere!  You are essentially eating out for 3 meals a day (or 4 or 5...) for 7 straight days!  Imagine if you went to IHOP for breakfasts, Chili's for lunch and Olive Garden for dinner every day for 7 would certainly gain weight, right?

    I found that I ate much more at the buffet, then at the actual sit down dinners.  The portions in the sit down restaurants were a good size.  Not too big and not too small.   This is much better than going to the buffet where you are sure to eat more than you should.

    Secondly, each ship has a workout room and sports deck.  The hours of the gym are pretty good and you can easily get a workout in on sea days.  Port days are a little harder, but then again, you can choose to do a more active shore excursion than a bus tour.  Also, little things like taking the stairs rather than the crowded elevators can give you a great leg and butt workout.  Just doing push ups and squats will hit a large number of muscles.  You could also do Burpees, which combine push ups with jump squats...a very effective exercise that will really kick your butt.

    If you work out all the time, I suspect you won't have a problem staying motivated on the ship.  If you struggle with fitting in a workout while at home, you certainly don't have an excuse on the cruise ship.  Get up early and workout first thing and you don't have to worry about it again until the next day!

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    Trail Running in Vibram KSOs

    I've had my Vibram KSOs for sometime now, but I've only been wearing them for my runs up to 3.2 miles. I've also only been wearing them on the road.  I had yet to try them out for trail running.  All my research said to give them awhile before hitting the trails since trail running is so different than road running.  Well today, I decided it was time.  I strapped on the Vibram Five Finger KSOs and headed to Bent Creek and ran the Lake Loop which is about 1.72 miles.

    WOW!  I loved them!  Honestly, there were a few small rocks that hurt like hell - one even left a small bruise on my foot - but it was amazing at how my body and running style adjusted so quickly.  I've always had a  pretty good stride length and running on trails I always felt like I was bounding over rocks, stumps, puddles etc... Not the case in the Vibrams.  On the first twinge of pain, my stride immediately shortened and my turnover rate increased.  I lost no time by shortening my stride, and in fact, I believe I actually ran faster than I would have in my regular running shoes.

    I could feel every rock and stump I stepped on, but in a good way.  I could feel the sensation when going through muddy areas.  I swear at one point, I could feel myself slip in the mud before I actually "spidey sense".  My reaction to adjust and catch my balance was seemingly super!

    My legs felt fresh the whole run and whatever pain I would get here and there from sharper rocks, was gone within a step or two.  I actually felt so fresh close to the end of my run that I jumped up on a large rock in the middle of the trail like I was a kid again to avoid some sharp rocks on either side.  I  effortlessly jumped up onto the rock and back town the other side in a fluid motion.

    Going up hills, I have a tendency to go up a little flat footed unless I'm running hard.  In the Vibrams, I instinctively went up on the balls of my feet which made going up the hill so much easier. 

    All in all, I actually felt very primal as I ran over rocks, stumps and through mud and puddles.  The sensation of my feet contouring to stumps and larger rocks was so cool!

    I think I'm quickly becoming a barefoot/minimalist running convert.  I haven't decided yet, but I'm leaning to running the Asheville Citizen-Times Half-Marathon in my Vibrams in September.  I'll let you know what happens.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition on ABC

    For those of you that know me, you know I'm not a big fan of NBC's Biggest Loser because the contestants are made to feel bad that they didn't lose enough weight.  Any weight loss should be celebrated.  Anyway, I was very excited to watch a new show on ABC called Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.  While I enjoyed this show a bit better, it still had the same flaws in my opinion.

    If you listen close, you'll realize that the woman didn't lose all her weight in a year by working out 3 days per week, 20 minutes per day which is about what the average person can do.  She was working out 5 to 6 days per week (not unrealistic or even hard to do mind you...) and working out up to 6 hours per day.  Honestly - Who has 6 hours per day to work out?  We have work.  We have families.  We have kids that need cared for.  Also - ABC gave her a home gym...not just an exercise bike, but a whole gym!  I know I can't afford that.  Can you?  While the story makes for good TV, I'm afraid these shows are setting unrealistic expectations.  It is easy to gain weight but hard as hell to lose it.  I know - Honesty hurts but I've been there!

    Set realistic expectations - 80 lbs in 90 days is not realistic in my opinion (unless of course you can afford to hire a personal trainer to move in with you, and the 6 hours per day to train...)  That's over 6.5 lbs per week.  Pick up any fitness book and they all say the same thing - any more than 1-2 lbs per week, and you are probably losing more than fat - you are losing muscle & water...  When all was said and done, I believe she lost an average of 3+ lbs per week...That's not too bad at all.

    Realize however, that she lost the weight so fast, she had to have the surgery to cut off the excess skin.  By losing the weight more slowly, she wouldn't have had as much of a problem with the "hanging skin".  I don't know how much that surgery costs, but it's probably not cheap.

    If you need to lose weight, and want to do it safely, call me.  I'd love to help.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    What is a BOSU Ball?

    Have you been in a gym or a store and seen those big blue half-balls?  You may have wondered what the heck those are for.  A BOSU Ball is a pretty cool workout tool.  On it's base, it is a more stable version of a exercise ball.  You can sit on it and do various exercises.  You can even stand on it while doing various exercises to incorporate a wide range of what's called "stabilizer" muscles.

    Flip the BOSU Ball over and now you have a balance board in which you can stand on for balance training, or again, do various exercises and incorporate those stabilizer muscles.

    It's a great way to increase the challenge of your existing workout, introduce balance training and get a great workout.  They are not cheap like an exercise ball.  They run a little over a $100 depending on where you get them.

    Road Runner Sports has them as pictured below.  If you'd like one, you can visit the Road Runner's site by clicking on the ball below. Join RR's VIP program and get it for less than $100. By clicking on the ball below to make your purchase, you'll also be helping to support this site.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Biggest Loser Review by a Certified Personal Trainer

    NBC's Biggest Loser sounds like a great idea.  Take some obese individuals, help them lose weight, inspire others...Great concept.  To be honest, I never watched the show until recently and I have to say I'm concerned with the message it is sending and how the whole program is viewed by the general population.

    First of all, the contestants work out for 5 to 6 hours per day - Yes, 5 to 6 HOURS.  That's insane!  Pro athletes...sure...but obese individuals with no exercise experience going from zero to 6 hours per day....I'm shocked there aren't dozens of injuries.  Also - I'm not sure the show makes it clear how long the workouts actually are.  The average person - even a stay at home parent - doesn't have 6 hours to spend working out.  It's just unrealisitc.

    Secondly, the obsession with weight loss rather than body changes or "body composition".  Read any book, take any certification course and you'll learn that 1-2 lbs per week is a healthy amount of weight loss.  Any more than this and you are likely losing water or muscle or both.  Losing 20 lbs from one week to the next just isn't healthy and it's not a good example for viewers at home.  Again, just unrealistic in what viewers at home can expect to achieve.

    I watched last night, and a woman had lost 2 lbs since the last weight in.  The perfect amount to lose.  She seemed so sad that it was only 2 lbs.  This was understandable as people tend to place higher expectations on themselves.  What really ticked me off, was how disappointed the trainers were.  These are the people that are supposed to know this stuff and be supportive no matter what!  One guy lost several pounds since the last weigh in and the trainer - I think it was Jillian, seemed devastated and acted like the guy wasn't trying.

    All in all - I have to say I'm a big fan of fitness, but not NBC's The Biggest Loser.

    Weight loss is going to take awhile.  People don't gain 20, 30 or even a 100 lbs overnight so there is ZERO reason to think it's going to come off that fast.  1-2 lbs per week is a good, safe, achievable goal.  Exercise 5 days a week - 2 days of strength training and 3 days of cardio is a  great way to start and get results.  For more info on losing weight safely - contact me and I'll be happy to give you a free workout.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Is P90X Good for Beginners?

    Switching from my Running Coach hat to my Certified Personal Trainer hat - I often am asked what I think of Tony Horton's P90X program.  I have to say - the infomercials make it sound really good.  I decided to buy a used copy that someone was selling on Craigslist here in Asheville so I could give it a try.

    Honestly, I find it all a little funny how everyone acts like "muscle confusion" is something new that Tony Horton invented.   As a certified personal trainer and someone with significant coursework in Kinesiology, I've heard about "adaptation" and the need for variety in a workout for a long time.  Tony just managed to package the concept and make a kick-butt infomercial that is on ALL the time.

    Anyway - to the program.  You really need to decide what level of shape you are in.  If you (a guy) can do15 push ups and 3 pull ups, then you can probably handle this, although it will definitely kick your butt!  I did the "Core Synergy" dvd with my wife tonight and it's tough.  What's fun is that there were some variations of exercises that I hadn't tried before.  It really does wake up your body.

    My advice - If you can't keep up, just do what you can do.  Hit "pause" if you need up slow.  As Tony says - "Do your best, and forget the rest." Even the manual says it's a serious workout - hence the "X" for extreme!  They recommend Power 90 (the original one) or the newer 10 Minute Trainer.  I think that's good advice personally.  Some of the moves were rather complex and they don't show you the moves until they are doing them in the workout.

    PROS: Fun, lot's of variety, challenging, Tony is a riot...very funny and very motivating.

    CONS: Difficult at first to follow the moves that are new, possibly too challenging for the type of person the ad really appeals to in my opinion. 

    I enjoyed the workout so much, I'm considering becoming a Team Beach Body Coach.  I would certainly recommend P90X and from what I've seen, and my own workouts that I've designed, the 10 Minute Trainer looks great too...much more suited for beginners.

    Can I Run a 5K in Vibrams?

    Many people ask me about my new Vibram Five Finger KSOs.  What are they like?  Are they comfortable? Can I run a 5K in the Vibrams?

    I've had them for several weeks now but had been keeping my training runs short...just a mile or so.  Yesterday, I decided to head down to the Hominy Creek trailhead and run to Carrier Park and back...a total of 3.2 miles.  I had no problem running in them what-so-ever.  This particular run is mostly paved trail, but there was some wood-chip trails too.  That part was heaven. The pavement can still be a little hard, but I'm sort of used to it now.

    I went out for a nice easy run since this was going to be the farthest I'd run in them, so when I had to stop and give directions, I wasn't upset at all.  Turns out, I was running a pretty good pace without realizing it.  Despite my minute or so stop to give directions to a lost motorist, I still ran one of my faster times for that route.

    All in all - a big "thumbs up" to the Vibrams!

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Vibram Five Fingers - Day Two - God's Shoes?

    Well, today was day 3 of wearing & day 2 of running in the new Vibram Five Finger KSO's.  I have to say, I felt much better in them today.  I didn't feel the jarring sensation as much today while running downhill.  I noticed my stride seemed shorter, but my turnover was quicker.  I actually ran 25 seconds faster today than I did yesterday on the same 1 mile route with what seemed like the same effort.

    Getting them on is much easier now too.  The first time was like trying to put gloves on a toddler.  Our feet are used to "mitten" like shoes....just one big open space.  Trying to get your toes into the little pockets was a bit tricky at first, but today was pretty quick.

    I also realized that these "five finger" shoes oddly seemed familiar, but I couldn't place it.  Then it came to me.  Here's hoping Ed O'Neill gets a cut of every pair made.

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Review of Vibram Five Finger KSO

    I couldn't help it!  I found the Vibram Five Finger KSO (Keep Stuff Out) on sale and my curiosity got the best of me.  Yesterday, I wore them for a quick trip to the mall.  Let me tell you - driving in them is totally weird!  It really feels like you are driving with no shoes.  Not to mention what they look like.  I kept joking around that I had Gorilla feet, or that I was a Bigfoot.  My immediate thought was "How cool are these!".  They really felt great walking around.  I could certainly tell I wasn't in Shoe-Kansas anymore though.  This was definitely a new experience.

    Today, I wore them for an easy mile run just to see how they felt while running.  I have to be honest and say that I actually have some concerns.  When I was in high school, I would run barefoot during some practices, in the grass, just to change things up a bit and use different muscles.  However, on the road is pretty different.  Perhaps it just takes some getting used to in order to not notice. When you run, it's as if 2.5 times your body weight is coming down on your joints.  This is why heavier people usually start walking and ease into running as they lose weight.  With my Nike Pegasus', I feel great.  Great support, great cushion - just a great experience.  With my Vibrams, I really feel the impact.  Especially on the downhills! I didn't really feel a lack of support, which I find really interesting, but the impact sensation was so noticeable.  I ran off into the grass a couple of times and that was very enjoyable.  Concrete and asphalt however, are not very forgiving.

    I will keep running in them and give them an honest evaluation over the next few weeks. For heavier runners, I think I would recommend staying with well cushioned shoes.  These seem (at first try) to be much better suited to experienced runners that are more on the thin side.

    I'll keep you posted!

    Asheville Weight Loss Coach: Case Study 1

    I have my first client since becoming a Certified Personal Trainer & Sports Nutritionist here in Asheville.  I want everyone to follow his progress and cheer him on.  Today is April 16th, 2011.  Michael is a stay at home dad - sedentary - Early to mid 40's.  His stats are as follows:
    • Starting Weight = 166.4 lbs
    • Resting Heart Rate = 66 bpm  (not bad at all for sedentary - Mike is a former athlete)
    • Goal 
      • 145 lbs 
      • Run 1/2 marathon
    • Issues to Overcome 
      • Recent plantar fasciitis on left foot
      • Calf strain on right leg 3 weeks ago
      • Lack of flexibility so prone to further/repeat injuries
      • Poor eating habits
    • Good News 
      • 22 Weeks until 1/2 marathon
      • 22 Weeks to lose 21.4 lbs (1 lb per week) - Very Achievable
    • Mike's Initial "Fitness Do-Over" Plan 
      • Cardio training 4 times per week with focus on running
      • Weight training 3 times per week using body weight, dumbbells, resistance bands
      • flexibility training - daily
      • Nutrition Plan
    ****Update on Micheal's progress: Micheal was very busy with lot's of things going on in his life.  By the time we got down to business, he had just 6 weeks left.  He still had trouble getting to our workouts and so we had to focus on quality workouts over quantity when he did show up.

    Micheal averaged just 2 miles per day for the 6 weeks leading up to the Half-Marathon.  He stayed injury free, lost 3 pounds (he didn't diet at all...) and actually ran the whole way for the half marathon.  While he didn't run as fast as he would have liked, he did complete it - even running all the hills - and felt great after!  Way to go Micheal! 

      Sunday, March 27, 2011

      What To Do if You Strain Your Calf Muscle

      Yesterday began my 25 week countdown to the Asheville Citizen-Times Half Marathon. I really wanted to run a particular time so I set my self a long training window. Day one was great with an easy couple of miles. Then I had my son's soccer game, of which I'm the coach. While warming up with the kids, I chased after a stray ball, got ahead of it, turned my foot so the ball would stop - and POP...pulled my calf muscle. The technical term is a "Calf Strain". This is where the muscle pulls away from the tendon, hence the "popping" sound.

      The best way to treat this is to stop all activity - so my 25 week plan is going to be shorter - until the pain is gone and you can walk, run etc...with no pain. In the meantime, you should practice everyone's favorite acronym R.I.C.E. In case you've been living in a cave, or just have a horrible memory, R.I.C.E stands for:
      • Rest
      • Ice
      • Compression
      • Elevation
      Rest is obvious. Don't try running, playing soccer, or any other sport. Try to stay off it as much as you can.

      Ice is just that. I actually use an ice pack like you would put in a lunch box, but my favorite is a frozen bag of peas. Because the peas are so small, the frozen bag easily molds to the contour of your leg.

      Compression - let's get back to this one in a moment - but basically you want to wrap it or wear a neoprene sleeve. Again, more about this is a minute.

      Elevation means keep it raised up so the blood doesn't pool into your foot or lower leg.

      O.K. - Compression. Knock on wood, but it's been a long time since I've had an injury. In fact, in all my years of running, I've not had a running injury. After all, this incident was warming up with the soccer team - not while training for my half.

      Anyway, I went to get an ACE bandage and to my surprise, the old metal catch-claw is a thing of the past. Now, the ACE bandages are self adhesive. Just wrap and stick. WOW - that sounded so easy and it actually was very easy.  Start at the ankle and wind up the leg pulling it a little tight, but not too tight. No problem - piece of cake.

      One teeny-tiny detail that the directions left off turned out to be a vital piece of information. Pre-wrap. You see, you only want to compress for a while, not around the clock. I went to remove the ACE bandage and it hurt like H-E-double hockey sticks! The self adhesive is great - except that it sticks not only to itself - but to the hairs on your leg. I suppose I should have known this, but since I've never had a running injury, nor has anyone I've trained had a running injury, I've not had reason to need to use an ACE bandage. The last time I had to use one for something my kid did, it still had the metal catch-claw that held the bandage on.  Had I used a thin layer of pre-wrap, the ACE bandage would have come off nice and easy, rather than sticking to my skin and leg hairs!

      It's only been a day, and already I can put more pressure on it.  In fact, I moved a piece of furniture - so much for the "rest" part of R.I.C.E., eh?

      I don't think I'll be out of commission too long.  Maybe just a couple of weeks...maybe just one as it seems to be healing fast.

      Asheville Half Marathon Training

      Well - as of today, there are 25 weeks until September's Citizen Times Half Marathon in Asheville, NC. I went out and helped to coach the Beginning Runners group this morning. Ran a touch over 2 miles with them. Then I went and coached my U-8 Soccer team. While warming up with the team, I sprinted, stopped and turned my foot to stop the ball and "popped" my calf muscle. Man, does it hurt! Been doing R.I.C.E all night. Tomorrow I'll probably wrap it with tape but I won't run again until I'm pain-free.

      Anyway, if anyone wants to train for the half with me, I'll be starting a group in the next couple of months. I figure a good 12 week program will do the trick. I'm gearing up now (or was until today) because I'm trying to run a specific time...shooting for a 1:45:00 which is roughly an 8 minute mile the whole way.

      If you're interested, let me know. 828-582-4373 or

      Sunday, March 20, 2011

      Weight Loss Trainer in Asheville

      Do you have a few extra pounds to lose? I'm a personal trainer in Asheville and I can help you. No fad diets, no dancing and jumping around with difficult dance moves or TV programs that are obviously not designed for beginners. What I offer is tried and true workouts that will help you build lean muscle, lose fat and improve your endurance.

      As a Certified Personal Trainer & Sports Nutritionist, I can help you lose a healthy 1-2 lbs. of fat per week. Why wait any longer? Call today! 828-582-4373

      Friday, March 4, 2011

      Sports Nutritionist in Asheville, NC

      Well, I did it! Just a week after passing my Personal Trainer Exam with ACT, I passed my IFA Sports Nutritionist Exam (International Fitness Association). The test was pretty challenging, but most of it I already knew from being a runner all these years plus my Kinesiology coursework in college. The ACT exam was very heavy on nutrition also so it was great preperation. The IFA course study materials were great and very informative - I just happened to be pretty much up to speed. Got a 97%!

      So - looking for Sports Nutritionist in the Asheville Area? I can help you create a plan that will help you improve your performance & achieve your goals.

      Contact me today at 828-582-4373

      Certified Personal Trainer in Asheville

      Well, I did it! On Feb. 24th I passed my Exam and I'm now an ACT Certified Personal Trainer. The test was really challenging. Luckily, my college coursework in Kinesiology and my experience training as a runner since the '80's came in very handy. Not to brag - but one question on the practice exam was thrown out because I pointed out a flaw in the question. They agreed with my assessment and have removed the question.

      So - looking for a certified Personal Trainer in the Asheville Area? I can come to your home, office or gym and offer you 1 on 1 or group sessions. I can help you to create an exercise plan that will help you achieve your goals.

      Want to lose fat? Want to gain muscle? Need to break through to that new PR you've been chasing? I can help. Contact me today at 828-582-4373

      Wednesday, January 26, 2011

      Stretching vs. Warm Ups: Aren't They the Same?

      I often get asked why I sometimes talk about "Stretching" and other times I talk about the benefits of "warming up". Even though they are two different things, many people think they are the same thing. They are not.

      "Warming Up" is the first thing you should do before any workout. I doesn't have to be long, but you do want to raise your body temperature. A short brisk walk or easy jog will do just fine. You want to elevate your heart rate just a bit.

      Once you've done this, you can get into "stretching". Many people jump right into stretching and are running the risk of injury by stretching cold muscles. By warming up first, you've raised your body's temperature and you can now stretch easier. I won't get into the different types of stretching, as there are so many sport specific stretches, but basically you want to hit the major muscle groups.

      After your main workout, it's a good idea to "cool down". A cool down is an easy walk, or very light jog. You're trying to bring your heart rate down slow and easy. After this, do some more light stretching as well.

      This will add some time to your workout, but by doing so, you should train injury-free for years to come. A little extra effort and time up front means less time on the bench (or the couch) recovering.

      Happy Trails!

      Considering Running A Marathon. Am I Crazy?

      Lately, I keep having this "crazy" idea that I want to run a marathon. Back in high school, in the 1980's, I wanted to run one...