Tag Archives: Weight Loss

Numbers STILL Don’t Lie

Back in December 2010 I wrote a blog titled “Numbers Don’t Lie.” At the time I tracked my nutritional intake and training output on an excel spreadsheet. I was a year into training for my first marathon that would take place just three weeks later at Walt Disney World. Now days there are a plethora of different websites and technology to help people keep track of their caloric intake as well as their physical activities.

Today, I’ve left Microsoft Excel spreadsheets behind in lieu of my Fitbit. I own a Fitbit One and enjoy logging all of my calories and physical activities throughout the day. I can keep an eye on my calories in versus calories out throughout the day and at any given time have a snapshot of where I am in my daily fitness journey. It’s a very helpful tool and it keeps me honest. Why? Because numbers don’t lie. If I choose to not log a snack I am just cheating myself and skewing my numbers. If I want to know why I’m gaining, maintaining or losing weight then it’s easy just to look at the numbers and know whether or not I need to make an adjustment or stay the course.

Looking at the numbers takes a lot of the variance out of the thought process. I have had people swear to me that they barely eat anything and cannot lose weight. It’s becoming more common knowledge that if you use more calories than you eat then you will lose weight.  What many people fail to consider is the damage of one or two meals each week. In the past I have enjoyed a “cheat meal” as a reward. What I didn’t realize is that I could offset all of my efforts with that one meal if I weren’t careful. Having a cheat meal is okay, but I still needed to pay attention to serving size. If my cheat meal accounts for 2-3 thousand calories or more then I very well could have worked out the entire week just to have that one meal and NOT lose any weight. Of course this is assuming weight loss is the goal.  This includes even running a marathon.

Imagine going to a cookout and indulging after a hard fought 26.2 mile run (marathon distance).  You have some major hunger so you have a burger with chips, potato salad, a coke and maybe even throw back a couple beers. Later on you decide a hotdog looks good…after all you EARNED it across those 26.2 miles, right? You also have dessert and maybe another beer if you are so inclined.  A couple cookies make their way to your plate as you hash the day’s running event with your friends and family reciting paces per mile and the number of gels you took in along the way. Before you know it the afternoon is gone and you stick around for Round 2 of eats and treats! After all is said and done you begin to add up the caloric intake and come to realize that while you may have burned ~4,000 calories during the marathon that you ingested in excess of 4,000 calories for the day.

Screenshot 2014-06-01 10.46.02
Even after a marathon effort you can still take in more calories than you burned for the day!

Now, you know me and if you’ve read my other blog posts I adamantly defend the right to enjoy a good cookout!  Plan it into your training schedule, please! However, we still need to take into consideration portion size. Have a beer…heck have two or three! Have a burger! Have a slice of pie! But, keep track along the way as you don’t want to negate all of your efforts. I want you to understand that while running is a great calorie burning exercise running is NOT an open ticket to eat anything you want as much as you want.

Also, don’t go in the entire opposite direction. After a marathon (or any a long run) you need to take in calories for recovery and taking in extra protein afterwards is a good practice in my experience. Again, focus on proper portion size…not too much and not too little.

One more thing, I know I used the marathon distance as an example and I know that many would say that the marathon isn’t about weight loss.  I agree, I was just using the ultimate distance many runners aspire to as the extreme example to prove my point.  Even running 26.2 miles you still can’t outrun your fork. Even going the marathon distance doesn’t mean you can or should eat everything in sight afterwards. As they say, “Everything in moderation…including moderation.”

Happy Training


Diet Bet

Have you heard of Diet Bet or Diet Better rather? It is a part of the newest (or new to me) online phenomena called, Social Dieting. My sister-in-law turned me onto it about 10 weeks ago. I played a “round” that lasted 4-weeks and the bet was $25. Anyone making their goal won some cash by splitting the pot.  I took home a whopping $43 and change which I could either receive in a Paypal payout or put back down for another round.

Screenshot 2014-04-07 19.41.52

There are two games you can play and games start all of the time almost daily in some cases. Diet4 is about losing 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks. That’s the one I played and won a chunk of the pot with maybe 20+ players. Then there is Diet10 nicknamed “The Transformer.” As you probably guessed it is about losing 10% of your body weight and the time period is 6 months.  5 months to lose it plus an additional maintenance month to show you can keep it off. There are milestones along the way that you must hit in order to stay in the game. Each round the pot grows as people stay in it to win it. The nice thing is that everyone I have come into contact with is very motivating and you get a sense that everyone wants everyone else to succeed. That is surprising considering that less who succeed through Round 6  get a larger percentage of about $70,000+ and that’s no chump change! As the site explains, “There’s no extra credit for finishing first or for losing the most weight. Everyone who wins splits the pot equally.”

However, I must say that I don’t think that the possibility of just one person winning it all is very likely with 528 total players. In fact, even if 25% of the players don’t hit their goal then the take home pot for the remaining players will be around $175. Not bad, but really even if I don’t make it all the way through if I include the single round from earlier I will have lost  approximately 7% of my body weight since Super Bowl Sunday. Not bad and much cheaper than a personal trainer! When you get down to it the site is about goals, motivation and accountability.  For me, it’s working as I know I have that weekly weigh-in.  In this regard it is a lot like weight watchers, except I can win cash and I don’t eat a lot of processed weight watcher products that I will eventually stop buying.

Currently, I’m closing in on the end of Round 1 of “The Transformer” and I am doing well. In Round 1 a player needs to lose 3% and I’m 93% to my goal for this round meaning I have a little less than half a pound to lose in the next 10 days.

Each round’s loss goal are as follows:

  • Round 1 – 3% (I’m at 93% of this 3%)
  • Round 2 – 6% cumulative
  • Round 3 – 8% cumulative
  • Round 4 – 9% cumulative
  • Round 5 – 10% cumulative
  • Round 6– Maintain 10% cumulative

A Few More Details:

On the Diet Better site you have a profile which you can make as private or open as you wish including if someone can see your weight. For official weigh-ins you submit 2 photos each week (suggested) or you can not weigh-in and just do one official weigh-in for each round approximately every 4 weeks.

If you do weigh-in each week then you are entered into drawings for prizes like gift cards, cookware and fitness equipment. I’ve weighed-in each week to keep myself moving toward the target goal of a total of 10% overall. Your photos and weight are reviewed by a third party of the site and you get a confirmation email that your photos and weight have been approved.  Photos are in “airport security attire” meaning that you are wearing shorts and a t-shirt sans shoes. One photo is full body and the other is of the digital scale (digital required) with a password the site gives you for each weigh-in. At each submittal you check a box stating that you understand that you may be audited at any time for submittals. I would surmise that someone who magically loses a large percentage of their weight in a short amount of time would be audited. The game is set up to be fair and reward steady progress toward your goal.

Overall I like it! Plus, assuming I hit my goal I will be at or near my performance weight for my ultra marathon come June! My Fitbit feeds into the site so I can share activities  and even weigh-ins from Fitbit if I so choose. Other fitness social media as well as standard social media can be attached to feed into or out of the Diet Better site as well so it’s obvious that some thought and planning was put into this site. The combination of Diet Bet and Fitbit are really helping me stay on track day by day and hour by hour.  All the data I need is available and I can check where I am at any moment of any day and make healthy choices accordingly.

Give it a try if you want a new and different way to get motivated about dropping a few pounds! Just be realistic and help yourself by helping others stay motivated! I’m sure I will keep you all updated as I progress through the  6 month challenge.

Happy Training!


Finally…a plan!

After too many weeks of “training by feel” I have finally written down an eight week training plan for the remaining time approaching the Indianapolis Mini Marathon the first weekend in May. I am excited to be tracking results as I have in the past! I’m using the FIRST training program again since I had good results from it last time. I bought the book some time ago and I still use it regularly. It was probably one of the best purchases I’ve made for training.

Here’s the outline. I have more details on my version as to specific pace, distance, etc.

  • Sunday: Long Run
  • Monday: Bike (Recovery Ride)
  • Tuesday: Weights and Intervals
  • Wednesday: Weights and Bike
  • Thursday: Tempo Run
  • Friday: Bike
  • Saturday: Rest Day

I of course adapted the program slightly for my own needs and from reading about tips from elite runners. It’s amazing what you can pick up for advice by reading blogs and Runner’s World Magazine! I’m going to return to doing a post run ice bath once my mileage climbs a little higher and I’m lifting weights before a couple of my run days so my recovery days and rest days are truly for rest and recovery.

Overall my knee is still feeling well though I can tell from a little stiffness that taking it easy and continuing to work into the harder stuff is a wise decision. This morning I did intervals after weights and pushed the 2peed a bit on 1200m sprints. My knee was feeling a bit, but felt good afterwards.

Last week I added my first long slow distance run (LSD) of the season and it felt good to get out there on the trail for an hour or so. This coming weekend looks to be a 12-miler on Saturday. I fully plan to have some fun on St. Patrick’s Day so I’m switching my rest day to Sunday to accomodate the change in schedule. As I’ve said before, it’s important to schedule some celebration days into your program so you don’t go crazy!

Happy Training!


You can follow me on Twitter @TheRunningman23

This Week in The Gym with Your Host…

What a fantastic week of training! I hit the gym all five days this week and hope to keep that trend going in the weeks to come.

Here’s the breakdown in case you don’t follow me on the Dailymile.


My Monday workouts have been a combination of weights, running, and biking. I hit the weights for a hard and fast leg workout across thirty minutes doing super sets and trios of exercises with minimal rest between. Once I’m done with the weights I jump on the treadmill for a run. The first week I did just a mile and this past week I did two miles at a sub-9:30 pace. After the run I jumped on the stationary bike for the remaining time and covered 5 miles. This was 1-mile more than the previous week on the same day. I worked out for over an hour and left the gym feeling great!


On Tuesdays I hit the weights again, but go for the upper body regimen similar to my Monday workout of supersets, combo sets and trios. I take about 30 minutes for this routine and then hit the bike to give my running muscles a chance to rest. Tuesday I rode for 9.5 miles in about 46 minutes. Not bad for one of the longest rides I’ve had to date.


Wednesday is a specific run workout for speed. I do interval training with all types of distances, but this time it was 6×400. I start with a 1-mile warm-up at a 10min pace and then go into the intervals with a 400m rest interval (R.I.) as well. At the end I decided to cut the last R.I. and instead just increased the speed. I finished up by slowing to the 10min pace again and going for another half-mile for the cool-down.


Thursday is another run rest day so I started out on the elliptical for less impact but a good cardiovascular burn. I kept at it for 3 miles and ten switched to the stationary bike. I rode for 4.25 miles to finish up the hour long workout and hit the showers after a good stretch.


Friday was another specific run workout. I hadn’t ran for any significant distance since the Goofy Challenge so I decided since I have a half-marathon coming up in two months that I needed to start rebuilding my endurance. Friday was a 7-miler and I wanted it to be a tempo run of sorts so I started out at a 10min pace and sped up a bit when I had 1.25miles to go. Overall it was a great run and I finished feeling good with gas still left in the tank.


Another victory this week is my nutritional plan. I hit my EAS whey protein shakes after every workout for recovery and I can tell a big difference from when I don’t take in the extra protein for recovery.  Per my usual routine I eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day, take in the required amount of fiber and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. I had one splurge meal on Saturday and by the end of the week I was down 4 lbs. This is perfect as it means I’m sending my body all the right messages in regards to weight loss and performance.

The Week Ahead

This coming week I am repeating last week’s workouts with some minor tweaks. I plan to cut one super set on legs to allow for an extra mile on the run. I’ll continue to rotate exercises to keep my leg muscles guessing and adapting. The same goes for my weights workout on Tuesday for upper body. Wednesday and Friday will be specific run workouts for intervals and tempo runs and Thursday will be dedicated to just getting a good calorie burn on the elliptical and the bike.

One addition for this coming week is a long slow distance run (LSD) on Sunday with a friend of mine. He’s training for a full marathon in April, the same half marathon I’m training for in May, a duathlon in September and I’m sure several other races this year. My goal this week is to continue my weight loss toward my 170 lbs goal.

Have a great week and happy training!



What did most of the people do on the plane ride from Orlando to Indianapolis the Monday after the Disney World Marathon Weekend & Goofy Challenge?

Answer: They slept.

What did I do?

Answer: I planned out my training program to get me a PR finishing time at the Indianapolis Mini Marathon on Saturday May 6th.

The Goofy Challenge proved to me that I have a bit of endurance in me. I felt better after three days of running a total of 42.4 miles than I did the previous year after my first full marathon. While I know an extra year of training and the post race recovery methods I employed were much of the difference from year to year I can’t help but want to change focus from distance to speed.  They say speed comes with time. Great! I’ve been training for over two years now so I’m going to focus more on the speed and less on going a “further than last weekend’s” long run of 26.2 miles.

My most ambitious goal would be to try for a sub 2-hour time. My previous year’s mini marathon time was just under 02:06:00. Shaving off nearly 6 minutes from my run would take a lot of dedication but more accurately some very smart and specific traini especially considering I just got over fighting off a rhino virus which quite foolishly wandered too near my immune system…silly rhino virus.

My first order of business is to fully recover from my 42.4-mile journey (and the stupid cold), which I have done over the last 2 weeks. In the interim, I focused on biking, some elliptical work and lifting weights while also getting plenty of sleep. That time period not only refueled the body but also the mind and spirit after a long distance fight in which I’ve come a long way.

While I have mapped out a 14-week training program the intensity does not ramp up until next week. Monday I’ll refocus on my previous FIRST training regimen of three runs a week with two cross training days.  I’m going to focus on regular stationary bike and spin classes for my cross training along with resistance training thrown in to build more strength. I’ll write more on my bike focus in a later post as it involves a future goal.

Also, this is a good example of how as soon as you finish rewarding yourself for a job well done on hitting a goal you should immediately plan the next “BIG Thing.”  For me it’s relative speed in a particular race.

Churros & Dos Equis! - My Victory Dance

So look at 2011, smile at what you’ve accomplished, and look ahead to what comes next.

I’ll post my entire training program in a few weeks.  Until then…

Happy Training!


Follow me on twitter @TheRunningMan23

Keep at It!

I’ve been training non-stop since December 2009 for some running event or another…there have been one or two…  Across these last 20 months I’ve improved my fitness level from running nearly a 3 hour half-marathon to a ~2 hour half-marathon and ran my first full-marathon eight months ago.  All great accomplishments. My whole focus besides proving I could do it was to just “get in shape” and lose some weight with an emphasis on weight loss early on. I quit weighing myself as often a few weeks ago and checked in again yesterday afternoon with my friend “The Scales”.

I’ve realized that sometimes you have to just “Keep at It” regardless of what the scales say because your body is going to adapt the way it needs to not necessarily the way you want it to in the end.  You may care about the beach, but your body doesn’t. I had been weighing in consistently for several months at around 180lbs up until yesterday…

On Thursday I weighed 174lbs!  I’m getting so close to my goal weight of 160-165 that I can’t wait, but honestly at this point I’m more interested in my fitness level, body fat percentage and the way I feel more than the actual number on the tell tale scale.

I was beginning to wonder if I’d lost some more because my interval runs and tempo runs had been getting easier for the program I’m on at present (FIRST Program). I kept being able to push it a bit more than what was prescribed.  Then my trainer saw me Thursday morning and asked if I’d lost some more weight.  I actually said, “No”. That I was just looking different because of the weight lifting I’d been implementing twice a week…I’m happy to admit that I was wrong!  Never been so happy to be wrong!

So the message of the week is to keep at it even if the scale isn’t moving for several months.  You have to send your body enough messages telling it that you’d like a change.  Mine has quite a learning curve and seems to be using two tin cans and a string for communication so the message is slower….  🙂

So take a look at your exercise routine, diet, calorie consumption and calorie expenditure.  Are you sending consistent messages or mixed messages? Just something to ponder.

My next run, a full marathon, is 92 days away.  I’m looking forward to running it at 174 pounds or less!

Happy Training!


Small Muscles…Big Gains

A lot of times when we hit the gym we go for the “more bang for your buck” workouts. Multi-muscle, multi-joint exercises are always being touted as a “Time Saver”, “Calorie Burner” or “Only way to go if you have X amount of time”….  I would have to agree.

Using more than one muscle group DOES burn more calories.  This technique also saves you time as opposed to working each single muscle group individually. However, occasionally it’s a good idea to hit those tiny little muscles we forget about when we’re hitting those Lats, Pecs and Quads getting ready to look buff for the beach or just in our normal training for our next race. I found out as much when I had an hour long session with my personal trainer last week. I bought a training sessions package from my gym back in December 2009 and I’ve been able to make the sessions last for 18 months since I don’t do a PT session the week of any race or over holidays….there’ve been a couple holidays and a lot of races in the past 18 months! 🙂

So I’ve been training for 18 months and my trainer “handed me my hat” so to speak on these small muscle exercises over the course of the hour. I was sweating bullets on the first couple exercises that worked the front of the lower leg. These three little guys are in charge of pulling the toes back toward your shin (dorsiflexion), rolling your foot inward (inversion), rolling your foot back out (eversion) and extending your big toe (extending your big toe…). So these muscles are fairly important to running, swimming, biking, walking, standing, and to a lesser extent bouncing on a pogo stick (actually not sure on the last one because I can’t do that, but I’m glad you’ve decided to come with me on this one).

Exercise Physiology 101 Terminology...enjoy.

So here I was laying on the floor with a cable strapped to my foot with my foot at a 90 degree angle to my lower leg and pulling my knee toward my head.  Basically a knee-up in the supine position (flat on your back). By the third set (3×15) I was barely able to keep my foot from pointing down and letting the cable slip off.  It was a LOT of work! This would be a great exercise for shin splints too as it strengthens those muscles.

Next we worked on the inner/outer thigh machines which I’ll say that not a lot of guys in my gym use. But when you’ve experienced ITBS like me, you don’t care anymore. These machines hit those muscles and strengthen them so you can help stave off ITBS. The muscles being worked here also support the sides of your knees. Raise your hand if you could use a healthier and more stable knee or two!!!!  Ok, put your hand down now…people are beginning to stare….

Single Leg RDLs (Romanian Dead Lift)

What’s next you ask? Single leg Romanian Dead Lift with a dumbbell (not me the weight…). Want a strong ankle and superior balance?  Do single leg RDLs. In the picture the guy (not me BTW) has his leg bent slightly. This is okay, but an RDL technically has a straight leg.  Note that he has a straight/flat back as well. We did a super set on these with a seated row since the big muscle being used IS your back. This also works your core! Triple bonus!

WARNING: If you’ve never done RDLs ask a trainer at your gym to model it for you. Just call it a single leg dead lift with a dumbbell…a good trainer should know what it is. Use a light weight until you get the form down.

We did all sorts of other stuff, but I’ve rambled on long enough so I’ll put the core work in another post. You shouldn’t always isolate the small muscles since you hit them when you work the big ones, but take a single workout every 2-3 weeks to concentrate on the small muscles and you can see some big gains!

Happy Training!


Speed Training

Ahhh, it’s that time of year again when the weather breaks and we can all get off the treadmill and go outside without freezing!

Though not an actual picture of me running in the sun...the smile is accurate.

I’ll admit that I’m a fair weather runner. Lots of my running friends tell me they go out when it gets into the 40s (or run all winter…crazies), but I love the warmth! I don’t hit the running trails until it’s closer to the mid-to-upper 50s. I just hate to be cold on a run!

Regardless, let’s talk training! I run on the treadmill even during the summer and save only a couple runs a week to the outdoors. This is mainly because I get my training in at 5:00am and year round it’s dark out at 5:00am so I’ll stick to the bright soft lights of LA Fitness. Basically, I’m an early morning gym rat. Some call it the Dreadmill, but with ESPN in front of me I can almost run all day on that thing!

Last time I promised to chat a bit about speed training including Tempo Runs and Intervals.  Before I do though I want to say that speed is relative. If I suddenly became independently wealthy, was able to quit my job and started training like a full-time olympian there is still a good chance that I would never develop Kenyan-esque speed….  When I started running back in December 2009 I was a 5.0 to 5.5mph runner.  I was training primarily to finish a race and lose weight. I didn’t care how long it took me as long as I beat the meat wagon to the finish line. After I had a couple half marathons under my belt last year I decided to start trying to finish a bit faster cause I, like a lot of other runners, have aspirations of a Boston Qualifying time in the future. Aside from running in Athens I believe that Boston is running mecca! Right now I am no where near a Boston Qualifying time, but I’m improving!

For speed work I alternate Tempo Runs and Intervals each week.  Intervals are pretty straight forward and I like to do them on a treadmill though if you have an outdoor track at a local high school near you then some folks prefer the outdoors.

The treadmills at my gym have a picture of an oval track on them and once around, just like on a standard high school track, is a quarter mile or 400 meters. So a lot of times you’ll hear about people doing 400m repeats or  800s (1/2 mile repeats), 1200m (3/4 mile), or finally 1600m (1 mile).  Each one has it’s challenges. At the moment I am working up to 10 x 400m. Between each 400m repeat I slow down and run a much slower lap to recover.  It’s also okay to walk a bit for the recovery section if you aren’t used to this type of training. When I first started doing these last year I did walk during the recovery.

For me I do the Intervals one week and the Tempo run the next week then continue to alternate week to week. When I started doing 400m repeats this time around I started with 4-5 intervals and then added one each time the interval training came up on the training schedule. Currently I am up to eight 400m repeats and my speed has improved a lot!  The realization came to me a couple weeks ago that I am no longer a 5.5mph runner. In fact, I’m no longer a 6mph (10min/mile pace) runner. I’m getting close to where I am maintaining a 9:30 pace or better for 10K distances and above. Still, this is a far cry from a Boston Qualifying time so I have a lot of work to do!

Next Tempo runs!

The Tempo run is a curious thing. Some think, what’s the difference between a Tempo run and a Pace run?  Well there are similarities! Both are run at higher speeds than your normal pace. For me, a Pace run is ran for a specific distance like 5-6 miles while a Tempo run is ran for a certain amount of time like 30-60 minutes.

A Tempo run is broken up into three sections.  The first third is the warm-up building to my “normal” pace. The second third or middle section is ran for a faster pace. I like to describe this middle section’s pace as faster than you feel comfortable with, but can maintain for the allotted time. For me, the middle section of my Tempo run is ran faster than the pace I use for my Pace run. Of course the distance I cover in this middle section is less than the distance of my Pace run.

In a sense, a Tempo run is like an extended single interval.  However, considering the longer distance of this type of training, the speed of a Tempo run as compared to my speed during a 400m interval is much slower. Make sense?  I’ll have a couple examples in a moment to clarify between the three runs. Finally, the last third of the Tempo run is again ran slower at your normal pace and tapers to a cool-down in the last 1-2 minutes of the run.

Here’s a couple examples of my speeds for a recent set of Intervals and a Tempo run.

Intervals: I jog at 6.0mph for a quarter mile between 400m intervals to recover.

  • Warm-up for a half mile building to 6.0mph
  • 1 x 400m at 6.6mph (1 warm-up interval)
  • 6 x 400m at 7.1mph (FYI, 7.0mph = 8:31 pace)
  • 1 x 400m at 7.5 to 8.0mph (finish strong)
  • Cool-down for a half mile tapering from 6.0 to 4.5mph

Tempo Run: 45 minutes

  • First 15 minutes – 9:50 pace
  • Middle 15 minutes – 9:05 pace
  • Last 15 minutes – 9:50 pace

For good measure I’m also going to add an example of a recent Pace Run I did to show the difference between the three types of runs.

Pace Run: 4.5 miles

  • Warm-up in the first few minutes or however long it takes for you to feel ready to go! I do this in the first 5 minutes of the run. You could bike too just be sure to warm-up!
  • Build to the target pace which for me was 9:22 min/mile pace.
  • Continue at this pace until you reach the target distance.
  • Cool-down at a slower pace for an additional half mile.
  • Smile at the exhilaration you are feeling.

Remember the above examples are JUST examples.  I worked up to these speeds and for some runners these may be quite slow! Speed training does work, but don’t worry about it if you are training for your first race. First timers should train to finish and have fun above all else! Speed comes with time and you can’t make yourself go faster sooner than your body can adapt.

Finally, if you have speed training in your workouts delete it from your schedule 2-3 weeks from a race to allow your body time to fully recover and to be prepared for the race.

Happy Training!


Back to Basics!

Runaway training…..never coming baaack!  Sorry, I was channeling Soul Asylum for a moment.

If you’ve been following me then you know I keep a calorie spreadsheet of everything I eat calorie-wise. Why?

  1. It keeps me honest.
  2. It let’s me know when indulgence has crossed the line into gluttony. (fine line sometimes!)
  3. I’m a nerd like that.
  4. It’s one more way to keep my goals in front of me.
  5. Body Bugs are expensive. (Google it if you don’t know what it is!)
  6. Numbers don’t lie. (See previous post with this title)

Previous Goals:

Being able to say I lost 50 pounds is great! Being able to say I lost 50 pounds last year is still pretty good, but the longer ago I hit that short-term goal the less shiny and brilliant it is….imagine saying, “Yeah, I lost 50 pounds back in 1995.” If you’ve maintained it, great!!!  If you’re like me and you have a longer term goal then it’s time to go Back to Basics!  See how I worked the title of the post in there just now? I’m crafty like that sometimes!

Now before I go on I want to say that I am very proud of my accomplishments. It’s difficult to lose 50 pounds, believe me. Losing 50 pounds wasn’t about starving myself (which doesn’t work) or just cutting out “bad foods”. It was about behavior change and deciding I wasn’t going to live on the Standard American Diet (SAD) anymore. 34% of Americans are obese. I don’t like being a part of that statistic, but last year I was.  Only 1% of Americans will run a full-marathon in their lifetime. Now THAT is a statistic I like to be a part of friends! It took me 13 months to leave one statistic behind me and join the latter. All I’m saying is don’t rest on you laurels for too long. Find a new goal and GO FOR IT!

As usual I have digressed from the subject of my posting.  Now back to the topic at hand!

Back to Basics:

Getting back to basics for me is all about focusing on healthy behaviors like eating well, getting some activity every day like shoveling snow (hopefully no more of that activity for a while!), staying hydrated and finding new ways to train so I don’t burn out.

Some things I’ve been doing on the workout side of my “Back to Basics” program include Spin Class, more body weight exercises (Thanks Tatum…my trainer.), and a variety of different types of runs each week. So for my next few posts I want to discuss some good ol’ training, how I felt about it and how it made me feel the day of and the days that followed.

First, let’s talk about burpees (aka: 4-Counts). You may remember them from high school gym class. I apologize about any flashbacks I may have just caused. Recovered yet? Good, let’s move on.

4-Counts or Burpees...call 'em what you will!

This picture details how to do them (Remember now?). This picture also shows the practitioner (not me) doing a version with a jump at the end. This is optional as it is a fairly difficult exercise without the jump. That being said, if you want to make an overall awesome exercise 10 times better then add the jump after you can do 10 regular ones with good form.

Now for some of the finer points of the exercise such as the do’s & the don’ts so you can stay injury free.

  1. Notice that you start in a standing position & squat straight down with your butt BELOW your chest.
  2. DO NOT bend over at the waist for this exercise as you run the risk of back injury.
  3. From the squat position you thrust your legs straight back again NOT raising your butt up so you’re bent over.
  4. Bring your legs back again so you are once again in the squat position.
  5. Using your legs, stand up OR thrust yourself straight up into the air for the jump version.
  6. Repeat.
  7. Remember, as you get tired you are going to want to just bend over at the waist instead of squatting down. Also, as you fatigue, when getting back up you will be tempted to raise your butt up first and use your back to straighten up. DO NOT DO THIS!  If you physically can’t do the exercise correctly for another rep then you’ve reached your limit for that set of repetitions. It’s okay to push yourself, but be smart about it.
  8. Starting out with 3-6 reps is okay. This IS a difficult exercise! It is also one of the best full-body body weight exercises!

My Experience:

Now let’s talk about my experience with “Burpees”.  Before last week’s training session I hadn’t done a 4-Count since the 90s when I was taking martial arts lessons and working toward earning my Black Belt. At that time my sensei told us that the number of 4-Counts a person could in 30 seconds was a good indicator of their overall fitness. I believed him. He could do almost 30 reps (sans jump) in 30 seconds. This exercise works everything! Try it!

After one set of these things (she made me do the version with the jump) I was sucking wind. In past sessions my trainer has told me that I am one of her best when it comes to keeping up and being able to breathe during the workout…and I was dying!  The thing is that THIS EXERCISE WORKS EVERYTHING so my body was wondering what was going on! Set #2 came and went (more wind sucking). On set #3 I may have started cursing (internally). 🙂

The day after I did 3 sets of 12 reps I felt like I had worked out for the first time in a long time. I had used muscles in ways that I hadn’t in a long time! In other words, I knew I had worked out hard and it felt good! I was a bit sore and there is nothing wrong with that…it was a good soreness from knowing I had accomplished something in my workout! I wasn’t so sore that I couldn’t function mind you.  I still got up at 4am the next day and ran 7 miles.

Variation on Burpees/4-Counts

  1. The first variation you already know. Add a jump at the end. This works the core, quads, hips, glutes, hams, calves, back, chest & arms even more!
  2. The second variation is to turn the 4-Count into a 6-Count. You know how you’re technically in a push-up position after you thrust your legs back? Do 1 push-up since you’re down there anyway!
  3. These two variations are more difficult so add them as you go. Regardless the “good ol’ fashioned version” is pretty awesome!

Next Time:

Next week I plan on discussing different types of runs you can do. Not sure whether I want to write about tempo runs, intervals, something else or multiple types. I’m sure I’ll find inspiration at some point to direct my musings!

Happy Training!


My Next Running Adventure(s) 2011 Edition

I have made it to the light at the end of the marathon tunnel and discovered that I want to go find another tunnel!

About 30 seconds after finishing my first marathon I wanted to find another to train for in 2011. Luckily, I didn’t have to look far and I have a couple choices. First, the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon is November 5th, 2011 and is in my own backyard practically. Second, a friend of mine whom I’m running with in April wants me to return to Kansas for a full marathon in mid-October. I’m not sure if I’m ready for two full marathons just three weeks apart. It’ll be my friend’s first full marathon so that should be fun, but now I just need to decide. I’m leaning toward Kansas City since the prospect of travel is always nice! I can run the Indianapolis Monumental anytime and if the weather repeats here in Indiana like last year it’ll be a cold run in November. Temperatures were dipping into the 20s for the Monumental in 2010. Perhaps that’ll be my 2012 endeavor!?!?!?!

Of course, I can never do anything the easy way so I mapped out a second year of running events with a healthy dose of ambition for a relatively new runner. I think that by the end of this year I won’t be able to claim the “newbie” title anymore…I have too many people hitting me up for advice at this point anyway!

Of course with it being a new year I need new goals!

  1. First, is to not live to run. I did that in 2010 and I want to enjoy my summer more this time around including some easy runs at dusk just for fun.
  2. Last year I lost 50 lbs and that was a good start. I need to drop another 20 to get down to a healthier range. Body fat percentage is still too high so that will be my primary focus.
  3. I want to become a stronger all around athlete rather than “just a runner” although there is nothing wrong with that. I just mean that running won’t be 90% of my exercise like it was in 2010. More like 70%….

As I stated above, once again I have been ambitious in my scheduling just as I was last year. I have a feeling that just like last year I will be adding an event or two along the way. So here it is, my race schedule! What’s your running season look like?

Welcome to Brian’s Insanity v2.011:

  • Walt Disney World Marathon, January 9th (Done)
  • Lawrence, KS Half Marathon, April 17th (Registered)
  • Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, May 7th (Registered)
  • Carmel, IN Half Marathon 6-11-11 (Soon to be Registered)
  • CarmelFest Freedom Run (4.5 mile) 7-2-11 (Perhaps)
  • Kansas City Full-Marathon 10-15-11 (Most Likely)
  • Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 11-5-11 (Perhaps)
  • Drumstick Dash 11-24-11 (Too much fun to miss!)
  • Indianapolis Jingle Bell Run 12-10-11 (Brrr, but yes…)

So once again I would like to  say that you should have goals. I had a great 2010 and I want to have an even better 2011! The reason is I had goals and ticked them off one by one!  Have something to train for out in the future. I always say that training for just another 5 pounds isn’t enough and will only motivate you so far. That’s why I’m considering two marathons within three weeks of each other.  I know I can run a half or a full-marathon…been there, done that. I know that in order to run two full marathons three weeks apart I would have to bring my training to a new level and decrease my body fat percentage over the next 9 months to be able to take on the challenge. I also know that this may be the next step for me to move beyond the 26.2 mile range which would make me an ultra runner. An ultra is defined as any distance race beyond 26.2 miles.  We’ll see if I explore that kind of race down the road, but it’s a thought for the future.

Happy training and have fun!


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