Day: June 8, 2012

How do I choose the best running route for me?

Whether you are a casual runner looking for a quick and easy jog, or you are an experienced marathon runner looking to tackle a lengthy, challenging course, Seattle has much to offer to help you achieve your fitness goals.

Although it may seem easy enough for some to just get out there and hit the streets, there are several obstacles that may discourage many individuals from achieving their fitness goals. Here are some things that all runners should keep in mind while searching for the right running course:

Security

  • Make sure while running at night, you are in a well-lit atmosphere.
  • Avoid running in high-crime neighborhoods and/or parks.
  • Get familiar with new courses and its surroundings. You are likely to get lost in unfamiliar territory.

Weather

  • Be very cautious while running in the rain. Your chances of injury rise considerably while running on slippery surfaces like manhole covers and street grates.
  • Running in extreme heat may cause heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.

Terrain

  • Gravel and outdoor trails me be unfamiliar surfaces to many individuals. Be cautious while running downhill and avoid taking long strides. This will decrease your chances of sliding and causing serious injury.
  • While running along busy city streets, keep clear of potholes and construction sites.

Hydration and proper footwear

  • Staying hydrated is crucial while undergoing any kind of cardiovascular exercise.
  • Running in parks and neighborhoods with designated water stations would be ideal.
  • Having the right footwear is also a very important element while running. Cross trainer or running shoes are a must. Don’t wear your casual everyday sneakers while running long distances.
  • Consult your local shoe store for questions and concerns about what shoe works best for you.

Keeping all of these factors in mind and with a little research from the helpful sites listed below, finding the best running route no matter where you live should be quite easy. These sites will include course length, terrain, and a detailed map for your convenience. If you are not looking for a running route in Seattle, these sites will still be able to help you chose the right course.

www.run.com
www.mapmyrun.com
www.runtheplanet.com

If you live in or around Seattle, The Seattle Athletic Club – Downtown is a great point to begin your cardio workout. Here are some recommended routes to consider:

  • Myrtle Edwards Park: head down Lenora St. and walk down the flight of stairs; across the street you’ll find the great Puget Sound; start heading north and continue until you hit the Sculpture Park and eventually Eliot Bay Park.
  • For an intense, uphill climb, make your way up to 1st. Ave; continue south until you find Madison St; this is a steep and challenging hill that will eventually take you up to Capital hill.

Small bouts of exercise add up!

We all have busy schedules and finding time to fit everything is nearly impossible. The first thing we tend to throw out is our workout. Well, forget this all or nothing mentality, you do not have to workout 30-60 minutes all at once. Instead, squeeze your workouts in where you have 10 extra minutes. It is proven that doing 10 minutes of medium to high intensity workouts at least 3 times a day, 5 days a week, will help you live a healthier life and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Besides fitting in the 10 minute workouts when you have a little bit of free time, you can also make simple choices that will help you burn a few extra calories. For instance, park at the far end of the store parking lot and walk briskly to the store. Whenever possible walk wherever you need to go. By taking the stairs instead of the elevator you can burn 75-115 calories for every 10 minutes spent in the stairwell. While watching your favorite show doesn’t just sit on the couch, on those commercial breaks get up and get you’re heart rate up and your blood pumping. Just think if you did 5 minutes of jumping jacks, crunches, pushups, squats, and lunges, each time you had a commercial you would get in an extra 20-30 minutes of working out.

Also spring is just around the corner and it is time to do spring-cleaning. Get out there and do some gardening, 30 minutes of gardening will burn roughly 140 calories, mowing the lawn for 30 minutes will burn about 160 calories, raking the leaves will burn about 125 calories in 30 minutes. Clean those dirty windows! Wash all your windows inside and out for 30 minutes and burn 85 calories. 30 minutes spent cleaning out the garage can burn 100 calories. Rearrange your furniture, and vacuum and dust behind everything can burn an extra 135 calories.
As you can see it does not take much to burn those extra calories! Your goal is to squeeze in your workouts whenever you have a few extra minutes, and to move more!

Swimming Faster… Tips from the Swim Fairy

If it were as simple as swinging a magic wand, I would wish the magical dust upon everyone. However, like many things, swimming faster requires work. Here are some tips to ensuring you swim faster, consider it magic dust!

  1. Frequency in swimming is key. Collegiate and National level swimmers train the most “time” of any other sport around (or darn near close to it). Why is this? Humans are land animals and to really get efficient in the water, you need to be in the water. For triathletes here is a rule of thumb for swimming frequency (times you get in the water each week).

    1-2 times per week: Swim maintenance. This is the minimum amount of time to be able to maintain your current fitness in the pool.
    3-4 times per week: This is where an athlete will see the biggest gains occur exponentially in their swim speed and technique.
    5+ times: The athlete will continue to see more gains in the pool but at a lesser rate exponentially. For the athlete REALLY aiming to improve then 5+ days a week is the way to go.

    *Remember frequency trumps duration!

  2. Consistency on a daily/weekly basis. Swimming is about consistency. If you swim 3 times a week one week and none the next you have lost the ever-so-talked-about “feel for the water”. It takes a whole other week of 3+ times in the water to get this natural “feel” back. The feel for the water is a term used to describe feeling a strong catch and feeling your body move strongly through the water. When you lose this feel you have a feeling of “weakness” in your stroke.

    *Swim regularly week, after week, after week!

  3. Swim with a purpose. Arrive at the pool with a workout, goal paces, goal times, and a plan. A typical workout should look similar to this:
    • Warm up
    • Drills
    • Main Set (with focus on strength, pacing, speed, recovery, or endurance)
    • Cool Down

    *Identify what your goal is for each session!

  4. Document. Document your training in your plan. Record paces, rest periods, and specific workout details. Swimming blindly (or training blindly) gives you no concrete evidence to see improvements. Throughout the years you may reference previous workouts, where you are at in your training plan, in order to ensure you are making progress in the right direction.

    *Record your data!

  5. Seek consistent swim lessons. Doing one swim lesson will help. But consistent guidance is important for success. Often swimmers will “over correct” their new form. By having a lesson set up 2-3 weeks apart then the correction can be made by the instructor before the new stroke become a bad habit. Filming (above and below) water is also super beneficial in making your stroke improvements.

    *Seek advice of an experienced swim instructor for swim and video analysis!

  6. Swim with a group. Masters swim classes, or swimming with teammates is not only more fun it helps you pace your swims better when swimming alongside those of equal ability and inch out that extra bit of speed once in a while that can be difficult to find on your own.

    *Swim with friends!

Post these reminders in a place you see often and make sure you are practicing all your magical tips!