When I told Glen I’d like to improve my 5K time, he designed a running plan for me that included a weekly track workout. Admittedly, I was apprehensive about this component. As the days ticked away leading up to my first track workout, all I could think about was how tired and sore he was following the track workouts he did in prep for the Empire State Games. Was I ready to take this on? Were ice baths in my future?
I understood the benefits of the approach and knew that my personalized plan would be appropriate for my abilities, but butterflies still invaded my stomach on that first Saturday morning.
That was over 4 weeks ago now and my apprehension has been replaced with anticipation. Can you believe I actually look forward to the track workout! Why? I sometimes find the 3-6 mile run on the roads can get monotonous. (I know, I know this is where you say, ” I just get in the zone”, or “I do my best thinking when I run”). But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the track work because it seems to go by so quickly. I never thought I could (mentally) complete 4+ miles on a closed loop, but when some of that is done in warm up and recovery laps, some in plyometrics, some is strides and the rest in intervals, the time flies by AND you’ve really worked those muscles, improved form and placed extra demand on the cardio system. I also like the precision of the track – knowing exactly how far I went and in how much time, enables me to easily see my improvement over the weeks. Similarly, having a defined distance and target speed to run it in allows me to push myself for that segment because mentally I know it is for only 400m or 600m or 800m. And of course, when I focus on trying to hit goal times as I run around the track, it diverts my attention away from the jello feeling building in my legs :-).
The track workout is just one aspect of my full running plan to improve speed. Threshold runs, long runs, etc. are part of the equation too, but if you’d like to learn a little more about the benefits of track training, check out this link TRACK TRAINING 101 – Move Nourish Believe
Here’s to keeping your body in motion!
Simplicity. What a concept. And for many it remains just that – a concept, and not something experienced in everyday life anymore. There’s nothing simple about juggling work, school, daycare, dinners, sports, concerts, cleaning and commutes. Now ask people to squeeze 30-60 minutes of regular exercise into their complicated lives and you’ve pushed them to the precipice of impossible!
Well take a breath, because it doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple things we can all do to improve or maintain our health and fitness levels and it has nothing to do with your local gym or fitness studio. A 2008 campaign for taking the stairs called Burn Calories, Not Electricity! reminds us that simple changes in our everyday routine can be surprisingly beneficial. According to the NYC.gov site, some of the Leaner and Greener Benefits of Taking the Stairs include
- Stair climbing burns almost 700% the number of calories you burn standing on an elevator.
- Just two minutes of stair-climbing each day burns enough calories to eliminate the one pound an average adult gains each year.
- Men who climbed at least 20 floors a week (about 3 floors a day) had a 20% lower risk of stroke or death from all causes, in one study.
- Stair-climbing has been shown to raise good cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health
- Stair use reduces energy consumption. An escalator that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, can use 28,000 kilowatt hours of energy over the course of a year. That’s enough to create 43,000 pounds of carbon dioxide – more than three times the amount a car produces.
If the only stairs you encounter are the ones in your home – use them! Many aging adults have a tendency to “plan” their trek to the basement or second floor of the house, accumulating enough tasks to be performed while on that level so as to avoid additional trips up or down the stairs. As the saying goes, “use it or lose it.” Don’t avoid your stairs, partner with them for a great home workout.
Deliberate incorporation of stairs in your life is one healthy choice you can make, but there’s more. I’m reminded of the kick my daughter got me on about 5 years ago. We pulled into the local shopping mall and I began circling around for the best – meaning closest – parking spot available. She quickly redefined the “best spots” to be those further away from the entrance… you know the ones where grass is growing out of the cracks and bits of gravel are still piled up from last years snow melt. I call this “distancing yourself.” Walk a little further to the store. Push your heavy grocery basket 50 feet more! And the next time you pull into the parking lot of the health food store or fitness center, ask yourself why you’re fighting to park by the door!
Here’s to keeping it simple! and to keeping your body in motion!