Archive for June, 2008

Cross Training For Runners and Walkers – Why and How?

I’d like to talk about cross training a bit because it can help you get in your needed exercise while dealing with all the challenges to your time, even when running isn’t possible.

Cross training, for runners, refers to exercises that are different than running. For walkers, this means changing to another activity besides walking. This could be almost any form of conditioning that gets your heart pumping at a minimum level and duration. So, if you walk instead of run, you are cross training. If you swim, you are cross training. If you do yoga, you are cross training. At its simplest it just means doing an alternate activity to the one you prefer to do the most.

The caveat here is that the activity needs to be done at a minimum heart rate level of 60% with continuous movement for at least 20 minutes at that 60% level or you are not replacing one activity with another type of fitness training. You must have an equal or greater level of intensity to the exercise in order to replace one exercise with another for equal cardiovascular maintenance. Other than that, the sky’s the limit. Anything goes. Any activity will do.

This Coach’s Definition of Cross Training for Runners and Walkers

Cross training, specific to runners, refers to exercise that compliments, but does not include, outdoor/distance running, AND increases the heart rate to 60% or more of maximum heart rate* for 20 minutes or longer. The word walk can be exchanged for run IF it is power walking or “heart pumping hard walking”.

Another factor to consider is that you will not start out at a 60% rate. Your heart begins exercise somewhere significantly below it. When I’m on the elliptical machine at the gym it usually takes about 10 minutes to get up to my 60% rate. So, give yourself a minimum of 5 minutes to warm up and another 5 minutes to cool down at the end.

Your total workout will be a minimum of 30 minutes. This is why, in track workouts, we always warm up a bit before getting into the meat of the workout. This is not to say that activities like gentle yoga or easy walking lack merit. That is not the case. They are forms of movement that stretch and strengthen different muscle groups, but they are not increasing cardiovascular strength or capacity.

Stretching activities and other exercise, even if not rigorous, are important to us for balance as we tend to have major muscle groups that get no attention while other groups (our quadriceps, for example) get REALLY STRONG from walking or running. I’m differentiating here to clarify my definition. More on cross training, stretching, and other exercise in future issues. I hope this was a good beginning for you.

Want to know how to calculate your MHR Minimum Heart Rate (also Base Heart Rate). Look for my next article.

Stephanie Atwood, M.A. is coach of a women’s fitness team in the Bay Area. A teacher and trainer at heart, she is currently certified as a personal trainer with AAAI/ISM and consults on sports nutrition. Stephanie’s undergraduate degree was in “experiential education” and her cross cultural business communications. Atwood is completing a book on women’s fitness. Presently, Ms. Atwood is a Master’s Runner and runs or walks almost every day. When we’re moving, we’re getting fit. It doesn’t matter how fast we’re doing it!”

Ms. Atwood is author of the weekly fitness E-zine The Weekly Pep Talk at and hosts the blog

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Posted by The Running Guy - June 29, 2008 at 8:45 am

Categories: Injuries   Tags:

Running in Hot Weather – 5 Tips For Hot-Weather Running

Running in the summer can be challenging if you live in a really hot climate. Having trained for marathons while living in Chicago, Louisiana, and Idaho, I’ve literally trained in all weather conditions for running outdoors. With proper clothing and training techniques, you can run in any climate.

With summer approaching, here are 5 tips for running in hot weather based on my own running experience:

1. Run in the morning. Generally, it’s cooler and less humid in the morning. And, summer air quality levels are worse late in the afternoon. When I lived in Louisiana, I couldn’t get up early enough to beat the heat. But I could beat the sun. Now, I do the majority of my training in Idaho, where the hottest part of the day is around 5 pm.
2. Stay hydrated. Drink, drink, drink – before, during, and after your run. And, don’t wait until you feel thirsty. If you run on a path where there is no water, plan your hydration. Use a water belt, or plan to pass a convenience store where you can buy water or use their water fountain.
3. Dress light. Wear both lightweight, wicking material and light colors. Stay away from cotton. Most running clothes are made of moisture-wicking fabric designed to keep the sweat away from your skin and it allows for air circulation, thus keeping you cooler. Cotton holds the moisture, gets heavy, and doesn’t allow any air circulation. Also, light colors reflect the sun away from your skin.
4. Protect your eyes and skin. Wear sunscreen. There are many brands of sports sunscreen that are designed not to run so that you don’t get it in your eyes. Also, squinting uses up more energy and can cause headaches. Sunglasses offer protection from sun exposure and help to prevent headaches from squinting.
5. Pay attention to how you feel. Heat and humidity can be dangerous. Be aware of the signs of overheating. If you feel dizzy or if your skin feels clammy, stop and get out of the sun.

You shouldn’t let hot weather intimidate you – just be respectful of what the heat can do to your body.

And, now I would like to offer you a free special report entitled, “Running 4 Your Life: How to Improve Your Physical, Emotional, Relationship, and Spiritual Health.” Go to

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Posted by The Running Guy - June 21, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Categories: Uncategorized   Tags:

Can You Do An Ironman Triathlon?

So you think you can become one of the 1/1000th of 1% of the world who can say they have gone and completed an Ironman Triathlon? It’s quite an accomplishment to either swim 2.2 miles, or bike 112, or run a 26.2mile marathon – but to do them all consecutively in one day?! Some would argue this is borderline psychotic 😉 Suffice to say, I am one of those psychotic people and to perhaps give YOU some inspiration that this “crazy” triathlon accomplishment can be a legitimate goal in your own lifetime, I couldn’t swim 10meters let alone 2.2miles when I signed up for my first Ironman.

With the right mindset and dedication, it IS in fact possible to squeeze in your training, your work, your social life, your laundry, your nap time, etc etc etc – but it all boils down to
how badly you want it. The sport of triathlon is growing at an alarming rate, so it would seem that a LOT of people are looking for a new challenge beyond doing a 5km or 10km or marathon. I was in the same boat, having done a few marathons, I figured what other test of endurance could I subject myself to and doing an Ironman seemed about right… I don’t exactly recommend doing Ironman as your first triathlon, nor do I recommend trying to do an iron distance triathlon without knowing how to swim – but if you want incentive to learn and a greater incentive to push yourself to the limits of physical endurance – by all means 😉

Of course, most people start by doing a sprint distance triathlon or even an Olympic distance as they are not quite as intimidating. Some are even held indoors and you have the luxury of swimming in a semi-heated pool as opposed to a freezing cold lake (at least where I’m from). You won’t need to get yourself a top of the line time-trial bike and I’ve seen people do triathlon races with mountain bikes, and even a unicycle! Now THAT’s crazy.

In any case, the point is, the sport of triathlon is not as “elite” as many people make it out to be. It’s meant to be fun, it’s meant to be a challenge, and there really is no better feeling than crossing that finish line for your first multisports race whether it’s a short sprint, or your first Ironman. Regardless of distance you choose – Go For it!

Tavis is a 2x Ironman Triathlon Finisher and his hilarious GymSkinZ Triathlon T-Shirts are seen all over the world. His quest for Ironman Kona continues – you can follow his crazy adventures via his Triathlon Blog & Newsletter at

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Posted by The Running Guy - June 14, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Categories: Training   Tags:

Running Strategy and Pacing – How to Plan Your Race Strategy

Running a race is quite different than doing a training run. Sure, you push yourself in training, but being at the starting line of a race – whether you are going for the “win” or running it to compete against yourself – is fun, exciting, and nerve-wracking all at the same time.

Regardless of the distance of the race, your level of experience, or your pace, these basic racing strategies will get you off “on the right foot”:

1. Be honest with yourself. Have you done your speed training? If the answer is yes, then you can probably maintain a faster pace. Is endurance your strength? If yes, then you should be more conservative and pass people later. Be realistic about what you can do.

2. Plan your pace and start slow. This is the hardest thing to do. You get so caught up in the excitement of the race, and you jump off the starting line like a horse out of the starting gate. Your adrenaline is pumping, and you’re so ready to get started that you don’t even feel like you’re running too fast. But when you see your first mile split and it’s 30 seconds than you’ve ever run, you know you’ve gone out way too fast.

3. Make adjustments. If you find that you’ve run the first couple of miles too fast, slow down a little to get to your planned race pace. You know if you can maintain that pace for the rest of the race. If you slow it down a little and by the last couple of miles you feel you have lots of energy left, then kick it in.

4. Hold your pace. If you manage to start out at your planned race pace, focus on maintaining that pace. Many studies show that running even splits often lead to personal records.

5. Run your own race. You are responsible only for yourself. You may have training partners, but when it comes to a race, you should “do your own thing.” You must not feel guilty about leaving a friend behind, nor should they feel like they can’t leave you behind.

6. Set your own goals for every race. Only you can determine your own personal challenge. Just because your partner wants to run a certain time, that does not mean that you must also. Your goals should be appropriate and realistic for you.

And, now I would like to offer you a free special report entitled, “Running 4 Your Life: How to Improve Your Physical, Emotional, Relationship, and Spiritual Health.” Go to

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Posted by The Running Guy - June 8, 2008 at 7:34 pm

Categories: Race   Tags: