As a fitness professional with a background in therapy, I've found that its important to question the assumptions we make about weight and health. As part of this process, I am currently reading Body of Truth by Harriet Brown.
What I would like to share now is four important lies Brown addresses in her book. For more detail on these lies and the research both showing how the lies happened and what the truth is, go read her excellent book.
Today is a quickie, with a few big ideas. My topic: fear of failure.
You're a beginning runner, or even have been running for a while. But something doesn't seem quite right. Shouldn't this be more enjoyable? Shouldn't fitness be improving?
Don't worry, here are three basic tips to help immediately.
Runners face such an astonishingly high injury rate that running is classified as a high risk sport. I believe this is because everyone thinks they can run with little to no guidance from professionals. Unfortunately, the statistics are not in any runner's favor when it comes to such a belief.
What follows is a detailed injury prevention guide to begin to address this issue, taken from The Runner's Repair Manual, by Dr. Paul Weisenfield. The five most common running injuries are discussed and methods of evaluating, preventing, and addressing them are described. You can also learn more about these injuries here.
Just let go!
Did that annoy you a bit? Yeah, I thought so. It shows up way too often in some places, as if its a cure all and somehow easy to do. Upset? Just let go! Sad? Just let go! Disappointed?...you get the picture.
When the conversation doesn't get any more nuanced than that, then all I can think of is this MadTV sketch. So I think its time to take a look at this idea of "letting go".
I thought I'd share a great perspective I came across regarding the nature of motivation, courtesy of Bashar (you can find him on YouTube). In actuality, we are all highly motivated. We are motivated to choose what we perceive to be the closest to pleasure and the furthest from pain.
So what does this mean?
I often find myself answering the same questions when it comes to taking care of one's body and the best tools to do so. Unfortunately for me, I am not getting paid to tell you about these products. However, these are three tools every runner should have to help prevent injuries and stay loose.
One night in the fall of 2009, I laid down in my bed for the night. Rather than falling asleep, I found myself thinking about my desire to run and race well. As I relaxed deeper into my bed in my darkened room, I began to daydream. I recalled all the factors that created a burning desire within to run. I imagined short and long-term goals that sent my heart soaring with joy and excitement.
And I imagined myself running. Not the way I was running at the time, or had in the past, but in a completely new way. I imagined vividly, feeling with every sense and deeply feeling myself actually running. I imagined flying effortlessly across the earth, my arms pumping fluidly at a rate that was shocking to me. I saw my heart open wide, like a lion's yawn, to encompass the universe around me in ecstatic joy.
I felt my body wanting to tense and slow down even in this imagined scenario, but chose to just go with it, imagining with all my heart and my senses the way i truly wished to run- flying effortlessly in ecstatic joy at speeds no human has any right to go.
And then I fell asleep, and six months passed.
That night receded into my memory, fondly remembered but dim. And then one day I realized I was running exactly as I had imagined six months before.
Continuing and expanding off last week's post on Improving Self Talk in Running with NVC, I'm going to focus on how we can use "negative" emotions and self-talk as cues to get ourselves back on track. This is my biggest point today: "bad feelings" are really homing beacons designed to help us get back on track.
They are telling us we are not in harmony with ourselves, with who we really are and who we really want to be.
So I propose an approach to emotions that is very different from what our culture programs us to do with them. I propose we view our emotions as simply information. When we look at them we can discover what we need to know in order to get into harmony with what we want.
Nonviolent communication (NVC) is a fabulous system designed by Marshall B. Rosenberg to transform the thinking, language, and moralistic judgments that prevent high quality relationships with your self and others. I will focus today on how NVC can be used to get yourself out there and running in a motivated and psychologically healthy way, borrowing from the book of that name.
Barefoot running has become very popular over the last decade or so. The biggest proponents of the movement believe typical running shoes are the cause of the high rates of injury among runners and may even be limiting performance. Are they right?
To answer this question, I first took a look at what the research so far is saying, which you can find examples of here, here, here, and here.
You may not know it, but stretching is a really big deal for runners. What's worse is that advice on stretching can get pretty confusing. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there regarding the timing, purpose, and value of stretching (not to mention stretching versus dynamic warmups/warmdowns). I will hold off on a look at those positions and the research on that topic for another week.
But here's my take on stretching: if you are going for a run at an easy (conversational) and reasonably consistent pace you absolutely must stretch after a run.
Continue reading for a stretch routine I would highly recommend. This is a routine designed as a 15 minute yoga sequence. Following it in this order while taking note of the comments will help with both ease of remembering the sequence and greater safety while following it. Take extra time with the stretches you need the most, and ideally several deep breaths in each position means a minimum of 7-12 seconds.
I've been thinking a lot about motivation lately, and where it can come from especially when the going gets tough. I've been wondering how such motivation could be used to turn runs into the type of fabulous experience most runners only dream of having on a regular basis.
And in working with this over the last ten years I think I can make the following claim: the feelings and sensations we have when truly glowing about running can be captured effectively and used when running. And as a hook for a future article, this is also the case for peak experiences when running, as well as for discovering that outstanding inner runner.
I think I can best explain this as an exercise you can explore for yourself. I have many versions of this exercise, but here is a generic one designed to find, capture and use what makes the heart sing when it comes to running.
Exercise is a a pretty fabulous activity for improving the functioning of our bodies. It reduces stress, helps with weight loss, and can make other physical activities easier. It can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Exercise can also improve blood lipid profiles by lowering total cholesterol while elevating HDLs or the "good cholesterol". Resistance training can provide protection against sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass that accompanies aging), osteoporosis, and type II diabetes.
But what I'd like to focus on today are the long term effects of exercise training on bioenergetic pathways, myofibers, the pulmonary system, the cardiovascular system, and blood composition.
One of the biggest claims I make as a running coach is that I can help others make running more enjoyable and more relaxed. But then, when I wasn't looking, something happened.
My running stopped being enjoyable. Shit, I thought. If I can't even do this for myself, what possible right or ability do I have to help others?
So today, I went for a run after a break for several days.
Here's a reference sheet for pre and post race nutrition. The primary source of this information is from Dr. Phillip Maffetone's fabulous book The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. I'll be expanding on it in future articles, but I figure full information downloads are fun too, as long as they aren't lengthy....
Today I thought I would share a helpful list on mental strategies around racing. These tips are some great ways to not only be well prepared for the race, but for after the race as well. Enjoy!
Shoes are one those mysterious and sometimes overwhelming things for runners, especially for those starting out. But even more experienced runners and coaches will are quick to listen if someone they trust has something to say about shoes.
Running footwear is really the only equipment a runner needs. Sure, shorts are useful and choosing a well fitted generally nylon pair of shorts goes a long way. As for shirts, I'm of the school that it's only needed if the weather is pretty cold (although obviously a good sports bra for women goes a long way, but I won't pretend to be qualified on that topic).
When coming into a shoe store, there are 8 major considerations a runner should keep in mind. My thanks goes to The Runner's Repair Manual by Dr. Murray F. Weisenfeld with Barbara Burr for this fabulous checklist. The book goes more in depth of course, but these are the highlights.
Do you ever notice those little things about where, how, and for how long you run that showcase little bits of your personality in unique ways?
On a recent run, I went out and ran a slightly different route along Lake Merritt in Oakland. I noticed a little neurotic behavior I had not been aware of before. I was very concerned about making sure the run was still the same length as the normal route. It was as if the run would not be legitimate if it wasn't some predetermined length that I considered appropriate. As I took a look at this pressure I placed on myself, I really started to question it. What is a legitimate run, exactly?
Surprisingly enough, it turns out that "know thyself", that classic Latin epithet, is one of the most useful suggestions out there. One way that it has really turned around my life is in the ability to slow down and examine what is happening internally whenever I am in a space I'd rather not be.
Take motivation, for example. Say I'm feeling lethargic and resistant to the idea of doing something I fully know I need to take care of relatively soon. But when I try to take care of it, the resistance just rises and there is just a little flutter of fear.
Fear? That's ridiculous. Its just a little task.
Check out this great video on Ultra Marathoner Rob Krar opening up about depression and his love of running. I think its a great example of the challenges of working with something hard to understand that can impact loved ones too. It might be over said, but the power of acceptance is truly incredible!
This week I have something a little different. Lisa Hamilton, a fellow blogger at consciousrunner.com, recently interviewed me for her weekly podcast episodes. We talked about running with the mind of mindfulness and meditation, knowing when to push and when to back off, being in the zone, and more!
Check it out at http://consciousrunner.com/cr013-running-with-the-mind-of-mindfulness-meditation/
The fabulous thing about the mental side of running is that it truly is a playground. I mean this is in two ways: its play and the games created are only limited by your imagination.
Let me give you an example.
This post comes now because I could have fallen into this trap myself very recently. It can be dangerous as even an experienced runner to provide your own coaching because its very hard to be a good coach to yourself. For me this was ramping up my training load and quickly realizing the plan was far too aggressive. For overtraining, catching yourself early is crucial for quick recovery and preventing injuries before they happen.
Running can be an absolute joy. In rhythm, endorphins flowing, body and mind singing in concert as our surroundings rush by. Those are the peak experiences of running and likely a major motivation continue to run through the good, bad and ugly.
But how often does that really happen?
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