WEEK 5 "ON TO THE NEW YEAR" TRAINING PLAN starts today!
You might be discouraged and feel that getting out to walk today is difficult. Maybe you slacked off and did not actually follow the plan over the long weekend and missed the Christmas Eve and/or the December 26 runs. Quit moping around feeling guilty and get your 3 mile run in TODAY. Tomorrow is a non-running day. You may not finish with as good a time on your New Year race, but you will run with confidence knowing you have covered nearly the same distance before your 5K on New Year's Eve or Day. Stick with the plan! DON'T GIVE UP ON YOURSELF. You can walk during the 3 mile training run or the actual race if needed. Your race time will suffer a bit, but you will have recorded a finish in a 5K RACE!!!! That is a great incentive for doing better in your next 5K or your 2016/2017 NEW YEAR'S Race!
GOOD LUCK on RACE DAY!
THE NOVEMBER PROJECT: BREAKING THE CYCLE OF WINTER FLABBINESS
(AND INSPIRATION FOR EARNED RUNS!)
“Part of the November Project's success is that it addresses some fundamental barriers that stop us from exercising, like weather or financial cost.”
- from “November Project Aims to Remove Financial, Motivational Barriers to Exercise”
This FREE fitness movement was founded in 2011 in Boston by two former collegiate rowers, Bojan Mandaric and Brogan Graham, who had difficulty staying in shape during cold New England months. Locations have grown to 27 cities across North America. The most recent city to form a “tribe” (NP version of a local chapter) is Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. Leaders in this newest city discuss the project in the article that is featured. The movement motivates and encourages “people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels to get out of their beds and get moving”. Activities are mostly scheduled in early mornings, many in the dark in the deepest winter months. Information and motivation is spread through social media, one of the most unique features of this unconventional running club.
Learning about the NP movement in 2012, I was inspired! I lived in a small city. Could I start a tribe? I suspected (as an expert in the article below suggests) that a high density population was needed for success. Was it another organized fitness activity I had to pass up due to my particular situation? At that time I was struggling with how to feel part of the larger running community; I yearned to participate in many fun races but circumstances and finances just would not allow it. Eventually I came up with the concept of EarnedRuns™, which is like a micro-mini-NP that also aims to remove the barrier of financial cost and bring people together (but in groups of 4 or less!) to have fun running, regardless of the size of their city.
Many of you ARE ABLE TO JOIN this “grass roots morning fitness tribe” since the movement has spread so far and wide to large cities. To read more and FIND LOCATIONS there is a link to the website and an early article about NP beginnings. As the founders say when asked how to participate, "JUST SHOW UP"!
RUNNING: A LIFE AND TIME SAVER; GOOD NEWS!
My recent race 1st place proved to me that running fewer miles and working on flexibility, balance, and strength work could help me run faster. A recent online New York Times piece discusses medical research that running, as a ”vigorous” type of physical activity, compared to walking ("moderate" physical activity) is associated with a substantial reduction in all causes of death and has maximal health benefits at quite low doses. The Mayo Clinic Proceedings review published in November 2015 examined numerous studies on the benefits of running. It sought to analyze the relationship between running and major health consequences, especially cardiovascular disease and other causes of death, and make recommendations on how much running must be done to gain health benefits. The review is very long but has one TABLE (see above) that tells a GREAT STORY! Figure 6 says that “ a 5 minute run generates the same (health) “benefits as a 15-minute walk, and a 25-minute run is equivalent to a 105-minute walk”. WOW!
The study authors also point out that "despite the known benefits of high levels of" physical activity and exercise training, "some evidence suggests that there may be a point of diminishing returns" and that "high doses" of aerobic exercise training, like marathon running, may not be healthy. Have you heard non-exercisers voice similar concerns regarding the dangers of EXCESSIVE exercise as a reason for remaining inactive? The very first "highlight" of the article (see image below) puts that EXCUSE in the garbage. It tells us: "considerable evidence suggests that physical INACTIVITY may be the GREATEST THREAT to health in the 21st century."
To encourage those non-runners who are hanging back and thinking that to achieve the health benefits of this activity they must turn into full-time athletes, committing large chunks of time to sweating and grunting through a difficult routine, the study says less is good enough. EarnedRuns™ says that COMMITTING TO COMPETITION in races (personal and organized) gives running a HAPPIER PURPOSE than merely AVOIDING illness and death, and that TRAINING TO COMPETE helps build a more flexible and stronger body IN WHICH TO LIVE LONGER.
A PDF of the full research article can be viewed and downloaded free http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196%2815%2900621-7/pdf
Can you believe you will be running 3 miles at the end of the week? If you started with the Turkey Trot Training Plan you have been at this for 8 weeks. It's a Christmas present to yourself that you started then and can open early! Maybe you have started to see a difference in how you feel and look compared with the time you were not training. At the very least you should be feeling proud and accomplished. You also should be realizing that you have enough experience to tailor the plan to fit your needs. How great is it that you can say, "in my experience"....! Good luck this week.
The full plan can be accessed by clicking here.
TheActiveTimes Published an article in August 2015 "50 Fittest Colleges In America 2015".
DO YOU AGREE with the ranking process of this article (described briefly below)? It was published in late August 2015. Is there another metric you would recommend? Does being in the top 50 USNWR best college list contribute to a school’s “fitness”? What does the college do to HELP STUDENTS in learning how to be ACTIVE OVER THEIR ENTIRE LIFE, especially after graduation, when TIME and ACCESS to top-notch facilities is limited?
TheActiveTimes Total Top 50 ranking was accomplished:
The site began with a preliminary list of 142 colleges compiled from:
1) The Active Times Top 50 Fittest of 2013 and 2014
2) Top 50 of U.S. News and World Report’s (USNWR) Best Colleges Rankings
3) Top US military colleges
4) Princeton Review schools with top-notch athletic facilities and dining, and happiest students
5) Niche Colleges reviews and ranking by students opinions
It then devised a scoring process, awarding factors that indicate a wholesome sense of health and wellbeing —such as quality of life, student happiness and participation in recreational activities (both varsity and club or intramural) — with the most weight.
In 2015 each college had the potential to earn a total of 175 points. The number one school scored 130 and our number two school scored 126 points.
10. Stanford University
9. Pennsylvania State University
8. University of Georgia
7. Rice University
6. Bowdoin College
5. University of Dayton
4. Washington University at St. Louis
3. Ohio State University
2. Claremont McKenna College
1. Virginia Tech University
CONGRATULATIONS to students attending these and all colleges who are learning to become athletes (Bill Bowerman, former track coach at the University of Oregon: "If you have a body you are an athlete"). And those who, for perhaps the first time, because of the availability of wonderful facilities and an encouraging environment, developed a love for sport and competition.
5 STEPS TO MAKING A HABIT OF EXERCISE; do they apply to RUNNING and TRAINING?
AS JANUARY 1 APPROACHES New Year resolutions are starting to take form in the back of my mind. Holiday preparations and festivities are derailing my training and running program. My intentions are strong in the morning to get it done, but start to weaken as items on my "to do list' take more time and effort than I hoped. I promise myself that with the beginning of 2016, I'll be all in! But will I? What can help me make the new routine a habit?
There are general recommendations that are frequently proposed in articles to help occasional exercisers become regular exercisers. I recently read a very nice piece by Mackenzie Lobby Havey who posted “Your 5-Step Plan For Making Exercise a Habit” on MyFitnessPal.com.
I wondered whether these or similar recommendations apply specifically to non-runners or occasional runners who start training programs. Will taking these steps INCREASE THE CHANCES that they stick with the PROGRAM, make training a HABIT, and run their GOAL RACE? Do the research studies that are referenced pertain to running and training? Reading an article that quotes research findings can be disheartening if those findings run contrary to the runner’s own experience. If “research” says it’s true, who’s to argue? As is the case with all research, the DETAILS of each study, especially the METHODS used to test a hypothesis, can tell a story that may not be so discouraging.
The 5 steps include:
1. Setting goals
2. Including a mixture of exercise activities rather than just one
3. Recording progress
4. Building rewards into a plan
5. Involving family and friends
I’d like to take a closer look at the research behind these recommendations and discuss how they might apply to RUNNERS wishing to make TRAINING a habit.
SETTING GOALS; YES! The cited research demonstrated that goal setting increased adherence to exercise. The 1997 study involved participants in Tae Kwan Do and aerobics classes. Participants who rated GOALS, especially intrinsic (that you value) rather than extrinsic (what you think others value), as more influential and LIKELY OF BEING ACHIEVED showed greater persistence in pursuing an exercise program. I fully agree that this approach WORKS for runners! Identifying a specific race you wish to run (like a local St. Patrick's Day 10k) or a distance to cover (5 miles) allows you to PERSEVERE over weeks of training, despite setbacks, to reach a REASONABLE goal.
MIXING UP ACTIVITIES: MAYBE. This study involved participants in an aerobics class who performed the SAME one exercise for 8 weeks (static group), were told to CHANGE activities after 2 weeks (variable group), and who were free to change exercises AT WILL (preferred group). Measures of adherence and other qualities like cardiovascular fitness and boredom were examined. Results indicated that the VARIABLE group that was told to change activities showed INCREASED adherence to exercise as compared to the preferred group, but was NOT DIFFERENT than the STATIC group that performed the same exercise. There were NO significant differences in boredom among the 3 groups. MY TAKE: Many, many runners are just fine with their ONE favorite activity, RUNNING!. Like the static group in this research study they have no problem adhering to a plan that calls for just running! They need to be convinced that other exercise activities are important. As the study showed, however, rather than randomly changing activities at will (preferred group), it HELPS ADHERENCE to be TOLD to change activities, like a TRAINING PLAN does. Hopefully the plan convinces runners that strength, balance, foam rolling, and stretching routines not only help them become BETTER AT RUNNING but decreases their risk of injury and increases the flexibility that improves performance in all other sports and LIFE ACTIVITIES as well.
REWARDING YOURSELF: MAYBE. The article says that research shows INCENTIVES can improve commitment to exercise. In the study, published in 1992, university students in the experimental group contracted for a CASH payment to engage in at least 4 weekly aerobic exercise sessions within a prescribed target heart rate range, for 6 months. The money could be lost if the students failed to fulfill the weekly contracts. The comparison group had NO CASH promise. Adherence was measured at 97% in the experimental group and 19% in the comparison group. WOW! Measures of fitness IMPROVEMENT increased significantly in the experimental (CASH) group but not the comparison (no cash) group. DUH! I FULLY AGREE that in addition to the intrinsic rewards of running a goal race, the promise of a new pair of great shoes, apparel, or gear for such an accomplishment is a wonderful incentive. Rewards after EACH run, especially of food, are NOT a good idea. Running in support of a cause can be an incentive too. It’s almost the opposite of a cash reward, but FULFILLING A PROMISE to do something difficult can be a powerful reason to carry on too.
RECORDING PROGRESS: YES! This study involved low-active older adults, 65 years old who were given exercise prescriptions for walking at a doctor’s office visit, without (standard group) and with a pedometer (pedometer group). The pedometer group prescription goals were based on steps; participants were encouraged to use their pedometer to monitor steps taken throughout the day. The standard group prescription was based on accumulating physical activity around time-related goals rather than step-related goals. After 3 months, an INCREASE in leisure walking was noted for BOTH groups, that of the PEDOMETER group was MORE THAN DOUBLE that of the standard group; both groups mostly MAINTAINED their increases over 12 months. I FULLY AGREE. This study actually speaks to the positive effect of measuring each session’s work for all age groups! A phone app or wearable device that records distance, time, or steps, etc. can potentially make a big difference in increasing effort level AND it can track progress toward a goal.
RECRUITING support from FRIENDS AND FAMILY: MAYBE. This study from 1995 involved 50-65 year old participants and measured exercise adherence. Only the abstract was available, so details are scarce. Results indicated that exercise adherence was better with social support given specifically for exercise compared with that given generally. In the FIRST 6 months of the program, adherence was BETTER for those who preferred a LESSER amount of support from exercise staff. In the second 6 month period it was better for those who received support from BOTH family/friends and exercise staff. Home-based programs were associated with greater adherence. I AGREE WITH what the study seems to show, that initially it may be better to quietly decide to commit to a goal and start moving forward without a lot of attention and hoopla. There’s plenty of time (after 6 months?) to garner outside support specifically for running, after a few low-level goals have been met to increase individual confidence (getting out regularly, following a plan, etc.) that the ultimate goal is within reach. WHAT’S NEEDED INITIALLY may be an internal commitment to a reasonable goal. AFTER THAT friends and family may be your biggest BOOSTERS toward success.
It seems, based on all this research, that, in terms of making running/training a HABIT:
- APPROPRIATELY-TIMED social SUPPORT and REWARDS can create incentives to persevere
- Using a TRACK-ABLE PLAN with MEASURABLE WORKOUTS can help reach goals
- MIXING PRESCRIBED ACTIVITIES, running and non-running, can increase adherence to training
Ms Havey's article goes on to say that incorporating a training workout into most days will make it routine (the reference says about 66 days) especially if it is repeated in a consistent context (in the morning, for example). Skipping one day did not materially affect the habit formation process in the study. In my experience, there should be minimal thinking/deciding involved in accomplishing a workout. KNOWING THE NEXT DAY’S prescribed session, getting mentally and physically PREPARED the night before by ASSEMBLING needed gear/food, and setting a REMINDER alarm regardless of when in the day it is scheduled, are all STEPS that will help get a runner out the door and on the road, track, or exercise floor for that particular workout.
HAPPY RUNNING EVERYONE!
NOTE: Thanks to Ms. Lobby Havey for her thoughtful article and references. It’s much easier to edit someone’s work than create an original work, and she provided the intellectual content for me to discuss.
WEEK 3 "ON TO THE NEW YEAR" Training Plan Starts Today.
At the end of the week you will run 2 continuous miles! Considering that the "average" brisk walk pace for adults is 15-16 minutes/mile, you are likely to have covered longer distances on previous training days during combined run/walk sessions. This should be an attainable goal!!! With increasingly longer sessions and distances in the plan, take care to perform the MYRTLs, stretches, foam rolling, and strength exercises. Click here to see the full "ON TO THE NEW YEAR" 5K plan, which can also be accessed on the website RESOURCES page TRAINING PLANS. The 2015 Turkey Trot Plan with directions and links to instruction for MYRTLs, stretches, foam rolling, and strength exercises is also now listed there.
FAMILY AND GOOD FRIENDS are likely to have asked for YOUR WISH LIST as they attempt to take advantage of in-store and online pre-Christmas sales. There are lots of relatively expensive items (>$100) you long to receive (new reflective wear by Nike, that is in the $250+ range or the latest running shoe models at >$110) but cannot ask others to buy, so the challenge is to find affordable gifts. Because the New Year, a time for making resolutions to improve health, is also approaching, you might wish to consider gifts that will help you keep those resolutions. This week you looked at bright lights for safety. You could also consider asking for simple at-home use exercise equipment with instructional DVDs or winter season accessories:
Resistance band set
Resistance tubing set
Head/neck covers like Buff™
Wool (like Smartwool) or wool blend (like Feetures™) socks
Running mittens (not gloves, and not combo glove-mittens) like Sugoi Wind Mitt™
Twizzlers™ or other sport fuels
Runner's World has a nice review of this "seamless tubular garment". I have been using them for several years, mostly around my neck in place of a shirt with a turtleneck, or in addition to a turtleneck T-shirt on colder days. The material is lightweight, soft, and breathable. It can be removed easily when this area feels too hot and wrapped around a wrist, put in a pocket, or held in the hand, and put back on later as needed. It can be pulled up over the mouth and nose for protection too, but on very cold days I find this leads to ice formation as water vapor of my breath freezes. As it's name indicates it's designed to be worn on the head, but since it mats down my hair, I don't use it like this on days when hair washing is not planned directly after a run.
Growing up and living in Michigan has taught me that glove material separates your fingers and they can feel colder in spite of being covered by fabric. Mittens, however, allow the fingers to snuggle close and warm each other. Thus, as is the case with other body regions like the neck, at the start of a run the hands are cold. They warm with increasing activity and can become hot. Mittens made of thin wind-resistant material will allow your hands and fingers to warm while protected from cold air. They are not bulky and can easily be carried or stuffed in a pocket during the parts of the run when hands become hot, and then put on when cold again. The only running mittens I have found are the Sugoi’s; please comment if you recommend others.
Last on the list is a stocking stuffer that has long been a staple of Lake Michigan beach lovers in the summer! These carbohydrate sources for longer runs are relatively low in calories (160 calories/4 piece/71 grams), have minimal fat content (<1%) that would slow digestion during a run, and are inexpensive, $2-3/16 oz package (~10 servings). In addition they can be easily stored in a small plastic bag (I cut them into smaller pieces to reduce the bulk of the bag to fit in a pocket), don’t get sticky in your hands, aren’t slippery in the mouth (choking hazard), and don’t pull at dental fillings. Runners also like gummi bear-like and M&M-like candies, but I don’t think Twizzler’s can be beat on price. They contain flour so are not gluten free.
The higher tech running chomps, chews, gels, and fluids contain amino acids, electrolytes, and sometimes caffeine and vitamins and thus are often higher priced than simple candies. So perhaps Twizzler’s and other carb treats will work for “everyday” runs that are 75+ minutes and the sport fuel products might be held in reserve for times runners feel they need the extra ingredients. I pay roughly $2.40 for a 60 gram/180 calorie bag (intended for one 1.5 -2 hour run) of GU Chomps™ at my specialty running store. Since they are relatively expensive, sport fuels make good stocking stuffers too, if you wish to treat the giftee to something they don't often purchase for themselves!
Runners World had a brief article discussing these "fuel" items for runners.
AGE 25: GETTING LITTLE EXERCISE + WATCHING LOTS OF TV MAY = POOR THINKING ABILITY IN 50's.
"USA Today (12/3, Painter) reported that a study published online Dec. 2 in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that “young adults who watch a lot of TV and engage in very little exercise” may encounter problems with thinking in middle age. There may be a bright side in that screen time with challenging video games or with reading a book (not measured in the study) may not have the same effect as TV viewing! But why take the chance? Why not increase physical activity if you don't wish to decrease time spent sitting and watching TV?
It is concerning that only 3+ hours of TV viewing was considered HIGH! Combining my early morning and later evening viewing could easily classify me in that range. The study did not measure on-screen time with computers at work and mobile devices when sitting (the time frame was 1985-2011). That is one of the difficulties encountered with longitudinal research, that which extends over many years of a person's life-course. The circumstances/environment is likely to change in our fast-paced world, and life elements that may not exist when the study is designed and started are not measured or considered.
Many are distrustful of scientific research results; they seem to be reversed or refuted after some time. But it might be WORTH TRYING TO INCREASE the amount of TIME or the INTENSITY in which we are active throughout our lives, as the tendency has been that technology and modern living increasingly force, encourage, or entice us to be less and less active at all life stages, even in the normally more active years before adulthood.
Another study to be published in Pediatrics in January 2016, discussed in the LA Times, showed that teens are active only about 39 minutes/day although 60 minutes are recommended. You may not be excited about using EarnedRuns bibs, but perhaps you can find other ways to encourage yourself to be routinely active (and involve your family in routine activity if that is your life stage and circumstance).
The USA Today story is interesting and informative. The full scientific article is very briefly summarized below if you want to know more of the details.
The study was conducted from early 1985, through mid-2011 in 4 US cities, Birmingham, AL; Chicago, Minneapolis; and Oakland, CA. It used questionnaires to assess long-term patterns of physical activity and television viewing time in 3247 participants, who were originally enrolled in the larger Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. Each had at least 3 assessments of physical activity and 3 of television viewing time, and a cognitive assessment at year 25.
The questionnaire looked at participation in VIGOROUS-INTENSITY (running/jogging; racquet sports; bicycling; swimming; exercise/dance class; job lifting, carrying, or digging; shoveling or lifting during leisure; and strenuous sports) and MODERATE-INTENSITY activities (walking/hiking, golfing, bowling), and home exercises, maintenance, or gardening in the past 12 months and the average number of hours/day spent watching television in the previous 12months. HIGH television viewing time was identified as >3 hours/day for more than two-thirds of the visits. The participants were placed into activity CATEGORIES based a combination of an activity score and TV viewing time: MOST active, INTERMEDIATE active, and LEAST active. At the end of the study, 25 years later, cognitive assessment tests were administered by trained experts.
Investigators found that LOW LEVELS OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY combined with HIGH LEVELS OF TELEVISION VIEWING time during young to mid-adulthood were associated with WORSE cognitive (thinking) performance in midlife.
This should have been posted on Sunday December 6. Click here for the full calendar. It will also go on the website RESOURCES PAGE. For those of you who are training for your first 5k competition, this may be the week that you FIRST RUN 1 CONTINUOUS MILE... How exciting!!! The MYRTLs and dynamic warm-ups continue to be important components of this plan. Do NOT neglect them. If you have not yet started to use the foam roller please try it. Surely you will wish you had started earlier, especially with the back rolling.
HONOR SERIES: September 11 and December 7
December 7 is PEARL HARBOR REMEMBRANCE DAY, the anniversary of the surprise attack on the US base in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Many Americans lost their lives that day, like on September 11, but many more were destined to die in the next several years. Life drastically changed for the entire country as the US entered what would be called World War II. For my parents' generation plans for career, college, and marriage were altered overnight. My father joined the Army and my mother went to California to build airplanes. A search of the internet did not turn up any 2015 races with the theme of honoring the events of this day or those of both the December 7 and September 11 attacks. I will run a 7K race, to honor their memory, the second part of the Earned Runs Honor Series that began with a personal 11K race on September 11.
The main reason to establish Earned Runs was to enable individuals to design and run races that otherwise are not available, convenient, or affordable for participation. There are few or no widely held races commemorating these two specific days, and none that combine them, which could be identified by an internet search. The bibs allow runners to create events such as these.
The running of a themed race series or combination of races of different distances is gaining in popularity. Partly this is because the commitment to run more than one race "ups" the stakes for the individual runners, and partly because a special medal is awarded for finishing the separate races (that's a lot of hardware!). In my memory, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January each year gave the trend legs, offering a separate third medal for finishing both a marathon and half marathon that weekend. The medal for the "Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge" soon be came a coveted prize. Other "challenge" races have since been added by Disney, and some race festivals have followed Disney's lead.
Another example is the Marine Corps 17.75K that "commemorates the spirit of the U.S. Marine Corps and the year it was established", held in the spring of each year. All finishers (age 14+) receive a “Guaranteed Access” card ensuring a spot in the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon in the fall, a race that must use a lottery to select participants from the many that wish to run.
The quest for a medal or entry in a popular race are great reasons to commit to more than one race. But there can be other personal motivations. The possibilities are endless.
Here is the WEEK 1 SCHEDULE that builds on the November Turkey Trot Training Plan. The PDF of the full plan can be accessed by clicking here. Today is the first day in which a run is scheduled. If you missed the Sunday recovery walk or the Lower Body Strength exercises, not a problem. The actual day of your 5K Race is up to you...either New Year's Eve December 31 or New year's Day january 1, 2016. The truly full plan would have started Nov 23; so that plus the short last week push the limit of preparation for a first time competitor to taper. If you perform the dynamic warm-ups, post-run stretches, and foam rolling, you should be good to run the entire 3.1 miles.
If you finish this plan, 2016 could be your BEST EVER START TO A NEW YEAR!!!!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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