Monday, January 30, 2023

Discover the Surprising Health Benefits of Barefoot Running

Barefoot running is a growing trend that is gaining popularity among fitness enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals. The practice of running without shoes, or with minimalist shoes, has been shown to offer a range of benefits that can improve your overall health and wellness. In this blog post, we'll explore the surprising benefits of barefoot running and why it's worth considering as part of your fitness routine.

  • Improved balance and stability: Running barefoot requires you to use your feet and legs to balance your body. This can improve your balance and stability over time, making you less prone to injury.

  • Strengthened muscles: Running barefoot engages the muscles in your feet, legs, and core, helping to strengthen them over time. This can lead to improved posture, reduced pain and discomfort, and a reduction in the risk of injury.

  • Better posture: Running barefoot can help improve your posture by strengthening the muscles in your feet and legs, and promoting proper alignment throughout your body.

  • Reduced impact: Running barefoot reduces the impact on your joints, as your feet are better able to absorb shock and distribute weight evenly. This can reduce the risk of injury and help you recover more quickly after running.

  • Improved mindfulness: Running barefoot requires you to be present and mindful of your body and surroundings. This can help you focus on the present moment and improve your mental health and overall well-being.
My personal experience has been wonderful. I was suffering from Plantar Fasciitis for quite some time. It wasn't until I switched to minimalist shoes that I felt relief. In fact, the relief was literally immediate. My very first run in Vibram Five-Finger shoes was completely pain free. Later, I switched to Merrell's which look more like a traditional shoe, minus the cushioning. It also has a very wide toe box which helps the foot fall naturally without being cramped for space. I started off with just a mile and then slowly built up. In January, 2022, I ran a half-marathon in my Merrells. The entire time training, running the race and recovering was pain free!

In conclusion, barefoot running has a lot to offer, from improved balance and stability to reduced impact and improved mindfulness. If you're looking to improve your health and wellness, it's definitely worth considering giving barefoot running a try. As with any new form of exercise, it's important to start slowly and gradually increase intensity over time to reduce the risk of injury. If you'd like more advice on creating a plan to switch over to minimalist running, please reach out and I'd be happy to help.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Ran my first 5K of 2023

First 5K in the books & a Half-Marathon for my son!

Yesterday I ran my first 5K of 2023. I had created a training plan for my son who wanted to run a half-marathon so I figured since group offered a 5K as well, I'd run that while he was running the Half. 

His goal was to run a half...big goal was to break 2 hours...dream goal was to run in 1:45 or better. He ran a 1:46! Now, my son is a runner even if he doesn't realize it. He ran cross country a little in school but mainly he focused on track. He ran the 400, 800 and 4x400 relays. So as you can see, distance running wasn't really his thing. But I knew he was my kid and I'd seen him run. He just needed a plan. 

He went out fast, but then again so did I. I wanted to break 40 and I ran a 35:21. The first mile was downhill and flat so it was fast. I hit my first mile at 9:54. I was expecting to be around 12. That's what my effort felt like. Same for my son. He hit his first mile under 7 minutes and he felt like he was running around a 8-8:30 pace. 

He had fun and was proud of himself. He says he may even do it again. For me, I plan on working back up to a half. It'd be fun to run it with him next year. 

As for my personal progress? Well, work has gone off the rails in what is supposed to be my quiet time. I have a special election in March, a county buying new voting equipment and testing it this month and I lost a director in another county so I'm having to watch the office until they can get a new one. I'm up and on the road by 6:30 a.m. and not getting home until after 6 p.m. As a result, my training has been in the toilet, but I have been eating well. Rather than fast food, I've been going to Subway and getting a six inch sub on wheat with a bottle of water or going to the grocery store and getting a sandwich at the deli counter along with a water. I've lost 5 lbs so far. I'm down from 199 to 194 so I'm very happy about that. It's heading in the right direction. 

Today, I didn't run, but I did lift weights in my basement. It's not a finished basement, but there is a concrete floor although it needs lots of work and isn't even in all areas. I have a small space big enough for a bench-type apparatus that has it where the back can go down in a decline, flat, or up at various angles. It must be for kids, or I'm bigger than I think I am because I feel my legs don't fit on the padding part where my legs hang over. Regardless, it helps me keep my back straight during overhead presses and allows me to do a dumbbell bench. 

I am going to figure out a running goal to keep me motivated. I know I want to run a half again, but for right now, I'd like to just get my 5K down under 30 minutes. Honestly, if I do it right, I can actually train for the half and accomplish the 5K goal on the way. 

I really hate that I ever let myself get out of running. At least I retained all the knowledge...LOL. I gave my some tips and tricks I used to get through all the halves I've run. He found them very helpful. Maybe my next post, I'll share those. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

New Year's Resolution 2023 - And How a Coach can Help

I started this year at my heaviest ever weight. I had lost weight last year but gained it back over the holidays. This is very common with most people. I can't speak for everyone, but here's my thoughts on why this happens based on personal experience. 

  1. I cut down on sweets and sodas and I lose weight. Once I get to a point where I'm feeling good about myself, I allow for some "indulgences". All of the sudden, it's a few more and few more and soon, I'm eating sweets and sodas again. 

  2. I cut down on sweets and sodas and I lose weight. Once I hit my goal weight, I go back to old habits and the weight comes back. 

  3. I start to exercise but then stop. What seems to happen here is that I exercise, increase my activity, put on a little muscle but then when I stop, which I inevitably seem to do for a variety of reasons, the weight comes back. The muscle I gained starts to turn to fat. A pound of fat takes up a lot more space than a pound a muscle and I'm back to (or close to) where I started.
So how's this year going for me? Well, the first week, I was doing great. I was either running, walking or hiking every day. I lifted weights twice the first week and did some stretching along with the runs. I cut out sweets, sodas and fast food. I lost 2.5 lbs. that first week. 

The second week, I was back at work. I was traveling again, stressed, eating fast food, having a soda here and there, but worst of all - I did no exercise. I didn't run, walk, hike or lift weights. I gained back some of the weight but I'm still down overall for this year. 

The key for me, and the key I believe for everyone is consistency. That first week, I wasn't exercising around the clock. I ran or walked for just 30 minutes. The hikes were longer but the pace wasn't crazy. My weight sessions only took about 20 minutes so not a lot of time out of my day there either.

This week and through the end of the month, work will be crazy for me. I basically have to travel everyday over an hour each way, to take care of a county that is going through some personnel changes. There is a Subway and a grocery store near the office so I will eat there instead of fast food. I can easily avoid sodas if I avoid fast food places. I don't think of Subway as fast food since I have to go inside. In the drive through, it's just so easy to get the combo (which comes with a soda). I have had luck just getting a grilled chicken sandwich and a bottle of water at fast food places, but there's only McDonalds and Burger King in the area and neither offer a grilled chicken sandwich. 

So, what's next? Well, I will get back on track. I will be consistent. I will run more, even if it's at night and in the dark. I have to get on the road so early that I know I won't run before work. The weights are in my basement so it's just a matter of going down there and using them. I did it the first week. I can do it again. I just can't use the excuse, "I'm tired."

What I really need is some accountability. I can coach people and help them hit their goals time after time. But for some reason, I can't seem to motivate myself. The difference? They are accountable to me. I don't have anyone to answer to. Don't get me wrong. I get that I answer to myself. But honestly, if I had someone checking in on me weekly, I'd undoubtedly be more "on task". Maybe I need to start thinking of myself in the third person...LOL.

So, what's the point of this blog post? 1. Be consistent. 2. Be accountable. Those two things will help you hit your goals. Good luck, and don't give up. 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Happy New Year - 2023

Happy New Year!

I can't believe it's January 1st, 2023! I had wanted to be much farther along than I am with my personal fitness. In fact, I ended up making things worse toward year's end. 

I had made a 90 Day Challenge for myself  back in August and when I finished at the end of October, I had lost 8 pounds. This was good, but my goal was 20+ lbs that I wanted to lose. But still a win in my book. Weight loss is weight loss. 

So then, I made a 60 Day Challenge which would take me to the end of the year. My goal was to lose more weight. But instead, traveling for work, Thanksgiving, birthdays, Christmas, vacations, etc...all had me doing whatever the hell I wanted and not making time for running or even eating right. I did a few little things with weights here and there, but nothing that could offset the junk I was eating. 

Now it's January 1st, 2023 and I am the heaviest I've ever been. Ever! I tried to run 4 miles today but had to walk after 3/4 of a mile because my shins were hurting and my legs felt like lead. My shins never hurt and yet they did today and yesterday when I tried to run on the last day of the year. What is so strange, is that before I left on vacation, I had run 5 miles without stopping. So is it mental? Physical? Just an off couple of days? I don't know. My sleep is the same. No better, no worse. 

Anyway, back to the run. I had to walk after 3/4 of a mile. But I was determined to go four miles today. So I ran/walked the whole distance. Coming back I was faster so I either ran more of it, or I ran faster when I did run. 

Upcoming Physical

I have my annual physical in the beginning of March so I have some real incentive to lose weight. No holidays coming up that call for tons of food. Work shouldn't be too crazy either. The one thing is weather, but I just need to suck it up and run no matter the cold. I used to live in Minnesota and ran all the time so I need to tap back into that inner animal or whatever mojo I had back in the day. 

My Plan Going Forward

I do not plan on running every day. Just every other day and then a long run on Sundays. I do want to start doing more with weights. I have the dumbbells I've been using and I got some pool noodles to try and fix my little bench. The padding on my bench got old, hard and crusty. So I got some pool noodles that I will cut to size and hopefully fix the issue.  

I'm not sure if you read my other blogs or not. Hopefully, if you're struggling with getting back in shape, you will see that no matter what, I kept trying - even if the effort wasn't the best. 

So what's my plan now? No more set challenges. Just taking it day by day. I will cut down on sodas and sweets now that the holidays are over. I will be more active. My job has me either sitting at a desk or sitting in the car driving to counties where I then sit and talk. My plan is to really make an effort to run or workout in the morning before work so that way it's done and I have no excuses. 

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