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Notes from April

December 15, 2009

Yes, you can outrun “CRAZY”…. & Ashley has “proof”

Ashley Garrett completes Atlanta 1/2 MarathonYes, You CAN Outrun “Crazy!”

My girlfriends at work asked for a picture from the Atlanta half marathon.  The only one I had with me was a screen grab from www.marathonfoto.com, so I attached it to an email and sent it out.  Jo replied[c1] , “We BELIEVE you ran it…you don’t have to stamp PROOF all over the picture!”  Duh. 

But that kind of sums up the feelings I’ve had since crossing the finish line—I still need proof.  Marti asked if I had bought a 13.1 sticker for my car and I said, “No, I need to run a couple more before I advertise it on my car.”  I saw some cute shirts at the race expo (“I know I run like a girl—try to keep up.”) but I felt like a fraud about buying one.  I wore my medal to Thanksgiving dinner, but when my father complimented me on the achievement, I said, “Well, yeah, but I finished in a blistering 2:47.”  If my brother said, “I can’t believe you ran 13 miles this morning—that’s awesome!” I answered, “I didn’t run ALL of it; I had to walk up some of the bad hills.”  When the finish line picture arrived, my first thought wasn’t of the joy and pride I felt at that moment.  I didn’t see my smile.  It was more like, “OMG, my boobs look like they are trying to hide in my bellybutton!” 

Yes, ladies, this is what a lifetime of Crazy sounds like.  Welcome to the inside of my head!  Anything sound familiar? 

I spent $100 for an hour of therapy yesterday and our main topic was the Atlanta half marathon.  WHAT???  Don’t get me wrong—every minute I spend in the office of  Sherryl Richier is worth the money (three more referrals and I get a toaster!) but have I honestly reached a point where I need a therapist to tell me that it’s OK to be proud of myself for doing something that was hard?  She reminded me that I have a teensy weensy old habit of thinking that nothing I ever do is good enough.  True.  That it only counts if it’s perfect.  Yeah.  That even if I run 13.1 miles, I didn’t run it quite fast enough, cute enough, smart enough….  OK, maybe she was on to something.  That did sound vaguely familiar, like she was channeling the voice of my first husband/mother/grandmother.  It’s a very old tape, maybe even an eight-track, that gets triggered in my head whenever I should be proud of myself—“Good job, Ashley, but it could have been better.”  The flipside of the tape plays when I even consider doing something that scares me—“Well, Ashley, don’t do it until you can do it perfectly.  People will know you for a fool.”  The greatest gift I’ve gotten from all those hours of therapy is the ability to hit the STOP button, skip tracks and play a new song.  Like “Boom Boom POW!” 

 So here’s what really happened on race day. 

  • I ran the first mile next to a squad of Marines.  Their cadence chant was about looking fine and feeling strong and I could have kissed every one of them on the mouth for it.
  • In the second mile, I talked to a woman who had only been running for two months.  It was her first race ever!  I encouraged her with all the things Michael harps on about running form—Chin up, chest open, drive those elbows back, bend at your ankle, hold the baby bird eggs, in through the nose…
  • By mile three, so many people had passed me that I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone was still back there.  I saw THOUSANDS of people and I giggled with glee.  
  • Mile four and the towers of downtown still looked as far away as the Emerald City at the end of the Yellow Brick Road.  But I had a target.  Just keep running.
  • I reached our hotel at mile five and there were Gennaro and Vivi, waiting in the middle of Peachtree Street to give me a hug.  Vivi sang her little song, “Go, Mommy, Go, Mommy, GoGoGo!”  I thought my heart would burst with joy.
  • Mile six, I passed a woman who was running for Leukemia Society’s “Team In Training.”  I thanked her for raising money for LLS and told her that I had lost my husband, Richard, to leukemia four years ago.
  • Finally, at mile seven, I was starting to get tired!  I ate some of those sport jelly beans (I think the flavor was “Gag”) as I walked up that bitch of a hill in front of Piedmont Hospital.  I thought about popping in to McDonald’s for a large Diet Coke but decided that would be poor form. 
  • Downhill for mile eight…whee!
  • Mile nine I hear Tami saying, “Loosey Goosey! Loosey Goosey!” and flap my arms like a card-toting lunatic.
  • I slapped the mile marker sign on mile 10.  I had never covered more than 10 miles on training runs, so this was new territory. 
  • In mile 11, downtown Atlanta, three women were chugging along in front of me. One said, “I can’t do it” and slowed to a walk.  I came up beside her and said, “I think you can.”  Another stranger said, “I think you’re already doing it!”  It felt like the way we help each other believe in ourselves in boot camp.  She went back to running.
  • At the start of mile 12, I got really emotional.  The people cheering us along said, “You’re almost there!”  My quads were screaming and I had to walk up the hill by the capitol.  I followed the course around a sharp left corner then looked up to see a small, dark-haired man standing on the sidewalk by himself.  He was wearing a Leukemia Society Team In Training coach shirt.  He looked a lot like my late husband and I started to cry.  “I can run.  I am still here.  I am alive.  Running 13 miles is not the scariest thing I’ve done in this life.”  I was grateful for how far I had come and I was filled with hope that I really was going to be able to do this. 
  • I could see the 13 and I dug deep, shuffling my way up that long uphill bridge to Turner Field.  I. Would. Not. Walk.  I crested the hill under the Olympic rings.  The finish line was a few hundred yards away!  For the first time, I saw the clock and it read 2:59:11.  If I busted it, I could finish under three hours!  I took off like I had been shot out of a cannon.  I was running like Tami being chased by April.  My arms were pumping and I may have inadvertently shoved a couple of people.  I streaked across the finish line at 2:59:21.  I had outrun crazy!  Jovita reminded me later in the recovery area that I had actually run faster than that.  I forgot about subtracting my start differential!  I finished in 2:46:37, 7697th overall, 3647th for the women’s division and 449th in my age group!!!!! 

So, I have satisfied my homework assignment from therapy—I wrote this story.  I hereby own my accomplishment and say I AM PROUD OF MYSELF.  The shirt I should have bought at the expo said, “The miracle is not that I finished, but that I had the courage to start.”  I’m going to go out and buy myself a 13.1 sticker and I WILL put it on my car!

It’s that time of year when we start to think about making a list of New Year’s resolutions.  Resolutions tend to focus on the things we think we’re not doing well.  How am I going to fix all the things about me that need fixing in 2010?  Well, this year I am going to make a different list first.  I’m writing out a list of my accomplishments in 2009 and I will hang them on the refrigerator next to the resolutions for 2010.  May we all own our victories and talk about them as much as we talk about our mistakes.  It’s OK to succeed, it’s OK to try and it’s OK to do it imperfectly.  It’s OK to come in 7697th.



December 15, 2009

Yes, you can outrun”CRAZY”….&Ashley has”proof”

Ashley Garrett completes Atlanta 1/2 MarathonYes, You CAN Outrun “Crazy!”

My girlfriends at work asked for a picture from the Atlanta half marathon.  The only one I had with me was a screen grab from www.marathonfoto.com, so I attached it to an email and sent it out.  Jo replied[c1] , “We BELIEVE you ran it…you don’t have to stamp PROOF all over the picture!”  Duh. 

But that kind of sums up the feelings I’ve had since crossing the finish line—I still need proof.  Marti asked if I had bought a 13.1 sticker for my car and I said, “No, I need to run a couple more before I advertise it on my car.”  I saw some cute shirts at the race expo (“I know I run like a girl—try to keep up.”) but I felt like a fraud about buying one.  I wore my medal to Thanksgiving dinner, but when my father complimented me on the achievement, I said, “Well, yeah, but I finished in a blistering 2:47.”  If my brother said, “I can’t believe you ran 13 miles this morning—that’s awesome!” I answered, “I didn’t run ALL of it; I had to walk up some of the bad hills.”  When the finish line picture arrived, my first thought wasn’t of the joy and pride I felt at that moment.  I didn’t see my smile.  It was more like, “OMG, my boobs look like they are trying to hide in my bellybutton!” 

Yes, ladies, this is what a lifetime of Crazy sounds like.  Welcome to the inside of my head!  Anything sound familiar? 

I spent $100 for an hour of therapy yesterday and our main topic was the Atlanta half marathon.  WHAT???  Don’t get me wrong—every minute I spend in the office of  Sherryl Richier is worth the money (three more referrals and I get a toaster!) but have I honestly reached a point where I need a therapist to tell me that it’s OK to be proud of myself for doing something that was hard?  She reminded me that I have a teensy weensy old habit of thinking that nothing I ever do is good enough.  True.  That it only counts if it’s perfect.  Yeah.  That even if I run 13.1 miles, I didn’t run it quite fast enough, cute enough, smart enough….  OK, maybe she was on to something.  That did sound vaguely familiar, like she was channeling the voice of my first husband/mother/grandmother.  It’s a very old tape, maybe even an eight-track, that gets triggered in my head whenever I should be proud of myself—“Good job, Ashley, but it could have been better.”  The flipside of the tape plays when I even consider doing something that scares me—“Well, Ashley, don’t do it until you can do it perfectly.  People will know you for a fool.”  The greatest gift I’ve gotten from all those hours of therapy is the ability to hit the STOP button, skip tracks and play a new song.  Like “Boom Boom POW!” 

 So here’s what really happened on race day. 

  • I ran the first mile next to a squad of Marines.  Their cadence chant was about looking fine and feeling strong and I could have kissed every one of them on the mouth for it.
  • In the second mile, I talked to a woman who had only been running for two months.  It was her first race ever!  I encouraged her with all the things Michael harps on about running form—Chin up, chest open, drive those elbows back, bend at your ankle, hold the baby bird eggs, in through the nose…
  • By mile three, so many people had passed me that I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone was still back there.  I saw THOUSANDS of people and I giggled with glee.  
  • Mile four and the towers of downtown still looked as far away as the Emerald City at the end of the Yellow Brick Road.  But I had a target.  Just keep running.
  • I reached our hotel at mile five and there were Gennaro and Vivi, waiting in the middle of Peachtree Street to give me a hug.  Vivi sang her little song, “Go, Mommy, Go, Mommy, GoGoGo!”  I thought my heart would burst with joy.
  • Mile six, I passed a woman who was running for Leukemia Society’s “Team In Training.”  I thanked her for raising money for LLS and told her that I had lost my husband, Richard, to leukemia four years ago.
  • Finally, at mile seven, I was starting to get tired!  I ate some of those sport jelly beans (I think the flavor was “Gag”) as I walked up that bitch of a hill in front of Piedmont Hospital.  I thought about popping in to McDonald’s for a large Diet Coke but decided that would be poor form. 
  • Downhill for mile eight…whee!
  • Mile nine I hear Tami saying, “Loosey Goosey! Loosey Goosey!” and flap my arms like a card-toting lunatic.
  • I slapped the mile marker sign on mile 10.  I had never covered more than 10 miles on training runs, so this was new territory. 
  • In mile 11, downtown Atlanta, three women were chugging along in front of me. One said, “I can’t do it” and slowed to a walk.  I came up beside her and said, “I think you can.”  Another stranger said, “I think you’re already doing it!”  It felt like the way we help each other believe in ourselves in boot camp.  She went back to running.
  • At the start of mile 12, I got really emotional.  The people cheering us along said, “You’re almost there!”  My quads were screaming and I had to walk up the hill by the capitol.  I followed the course around a sharp left corner then looked up to see a small, dark-haired man standing on the sidewalk by himself.  He was wearing a Leukemia Society Team In Training coach shirt.  He looked a lot like my late husband and I started to cry.  “I can run.  I am still here.  I am alive.  Running 13 miles is not the scariest thing I’ve done in this life.”  I was grateful for how far I had come and I was filled with hope that I really was going to be able to do this. 
  • I could see the 13 and I dug deep, shuffling my way up that long uphill bridge to Turner Field.  I. Would. Not. Walk.  I crested the hill under the Olympic rings.  The finish line was a few hundred yards away!  For the first time, I saw the clock and it read 2:59:11.  If I busted it, I could finish under three hours!  I took off like I had been shot out of a cannon.  I was running like Tami being chased by April.  My arms were pumping and I may have inadvertently shoved a couple of people.  I streaked across the finish line at 2:59:21.  I had outrun crazy!  Jovita reminded me later in the recovery area that I had actually run faster than that.  I forgot about subtracting my start differential!  I finished in 2:46:37, 7697th overall, 3647th for the women’s division and 449th in my age group!!!!! 

So, I have satisfied my homework assignment from therapy—I wrote this story.  I hereby own my accomplishment and say I AM PROUD OF MYSELF.  The shirt I should have bought at the expo said, “The miracle is not that I finished, but that I had the courage to start.”  I’m going to go out and buy myself a 13.1 sticker and I WILL put it on my car!

It’s that time of year when we start to think about making a list of New Year’s resolutions.  Resolutions tend to focus on the things we think we’re not doing well.  How am I going to fix all the things about me that need fixing in 2010?  Well, this year I am going to make a different list first.  I’m writing out a list of my accomplishments in 2009 and I will hang them on the refrigerator next to the resolutions for 2010.  May we all own our victories and talk about them as much as we talk about our mistakes.  It’s OK to succeed, it’s OK to try and it’s OK to do it imperfectly.  It’s OK to come in 7697th.



November 22, 2009

Losing the same pound(s) over & over?

For those of you that have lost and regained the same weight several times – this is for YOU!

I lost 1.5 lbs exactly this week.  I’m proud of my effort.  However, negative thoughts crept in on “weigh in day”, which is Saturday morning for me.   

In 3 weeks I’ve lost 4 pounds.  (Very proud of my effort.  It’s taken saying “No” to a lot of snacking & “Yes” to more activity/exercise.)  But even with that success, I started having defeating thoughts.  I was thrilled and then it hit me:  this puts me at the point where I was when I wanted to lose 7 pounds (which has been for about the last year or so!! over & over again.) 

So essentially, all my effort these past 3 weeks was to get me back to where I started.  STILL wanting to lose those same 7  damn pounds!  (For you, it may look like 5 or 50 or anywhere in between!)

 

So what did I do??

I did NOT beat myself up about the extra 4 pounds I’ve gained since my latest injury.  It simply came about because bad habits (like eating my kids leftovers, going out to eat more frequently, not measuring food – granola & nuts especially, over snacking and way too much pity & defiantly not enough exercise! 

To quote my husband’s favorite saying:  “IT IS WHAT IT IS!”  Determined, I just hunkered down & dealt with “it”!

  1. I concentrated on the positive.  I’m proud that I dealt with the extra weight.  I respect myself for doing what it takes to get it off.  I feel better for it. 
  2. I realized the weight loss has given me momentum.  Without hitting my bottom (I couldn’t believe the # I saw on the scale) I might still be on the roller-coaster ride of losing the same 7 pounds over and over again.  This time I’m going to succeed.  There’s no doubt about it.  I will reach my goal!
  3. I’m more determined than ever to be in better shape come the New Year.  I will make healthy choices and stay active during this busy holiday season.
  4. My pain is your gain!  I’m happy to share all the gory details in hopes that you will learn from my honesty.  I know what it takes and most people (even doctors-except Alan Glassman, he’ll give you an earful!  Huge advocate of exercise & maintaining a healthy weight for adults and children) are afraid to tell you!
  5. WoW! Boot Camp works!!!  I love the workouts.  I’m sore, I’m tighter and I’m getting stronger!  Boo ya!
  6. Taking it one day at a time!  I realize that my choices today WILL affect my success for tomorrow.  Sometimes it’s saying “NO!” one chip at a time.  (That same big ass bag of Blue Corn Chips for the kids lunches keeps tempting me) & saying “YES!” to more activity.  It may be something little like getting up and getting something for myself verses asking the kids to get it for me.  (No wonder they’re so skinny – HA!)  I am taking it one pound and one exercise session at a time.  I will not be overwhelmed by the daunting task of 7 pounds.
  7. I keep visualizing my ideal self (I’m assuming it’s 7 pounds because that’s what I weighed when I had my picture taken for Athena Magazine 3 years ago.  But it’s really a pair of jeans I want to fit back into and a certain way I want my abs to look & a return of that smooth bra line on my back!  I know I have to burn that blanket in order to see the muscles underneath!
  8. Every day, I feel better & better.  I’m more creative & energetic.  Even though the results are slow (by tabloid standards) as long as I’m doing all the right things, I will continue to progress towards my goals.
  9. I have a good attitude.  This is not a chore.  This is a choice.  It’s a healthy way of life & I am better for it (just as I am certain you will be!)!!

These are pictures of me at the TUGALOO Triathlon – 4 years apart!

April before Comin' out the water_resized

My first Triathlon. Hard, mostly because i was overweight, out of shape and didn't train very much. But it was a start!


After 4 yrs. of consistant effort!

Same race - 4 years later. Still hard! But this time it was because I raced fast enough to go Top 3!

November 22, 2009

Losing the same pound(s) over&over?

For those of you that have lost and regained the same weight several times – this is for YOU!

I lost 1.5 lbs exactly this week.  I’m proud of my effort.  However, negative thoughts crept in on “weigh in day”, which is Saturday morning for me.   

In 3 weeks I’ve lost 4 pounds.  (Very proud of my effort.  It’s taken saying “No” to a lot of snacking & “Yes” to more activity/exercise.)  But even with that success, I started having defeating thoughts.  I was thrilled and then it hit me:  this puts me at the point where I was when I wanted to lose 7 pounds (which has been for about the last year or so!! over & over again.) 

So essentially, all my effort these past 3 weeks was to get me back to where I started.  STILL wanting to lose those same 7  damn pounds!  (For you, it may look like 5 or 50 or anywhere in between!)

 

So what did I do??

I did NOT beat myself up about the extra 4 pounds I’ve gained since my latest injury.  It simply came about because bad habits (like eating my kids leftovers, going out to eat more frequently, not measuring food – granola & nuts especially, over snacking and way too much pity & defiantly not enough exercise! 

To quote my husband’s favorite saying:  “IT IS WHAT IT IS!”  Determined, I just hunkered down & dealt with “it”!

  1. I concentrated on the positive.  I’m proud that I dealt with the extra weight.  I respect myself for doing what it takes to get it off.  I feel better for it. 
  2. I realized the weight loss has given me momentum.  Without hitting my bottom (I couldn’t believe the # I saw on the scale) I might still be on the roller-coaster ride of losing the same 7 pounds over and over again.  This time I’m going to succeed.  There’s no doubt about it.  I will reach my goal!
  3. I’m more determined than ever to be in better shape come the New Year.  I will make healthy choices and stay active during this busy holiday season.
  4. My pain is your gain!  I’m happy to share all the gory details in hopes that you will learn from my honesty.  I know what it takes and most people (even doctors-except Alan Glassman, he’ll give you an earful!  Huge advocate of exercise & maintaining a healthy weight for adults and children) are afraid to tell you!
  5. WoW! Boot Camp works!!!  I love the workouts.  I’m sore, I’m tighter and I’m getting stronger!  Boo ya!
  6. Taking it one day at a time!  I realize that my choices today WILL affect my success for tomorrow.  Sometimes it’s saying “NO!” one chip at a time.  (That same big ass bag of Blue Corn Chips for the kids lunches keeps tempting me) & saying “YES!” to more activity.  It may be something little like getting up and getting something for myself verses asking the kids to get it for me.  (No wonder they’re so skinny – HA!)  I am taking it one pound and one exercise session at a time.  I will not be overwhelmed by the daunting task of 7 pounds.
  7. I keep visualizing my ideal self (I’m assuming it’s 7 pounds because that’s what I weighed when I had my picture taken for Athena Magazine 3 years ago.  But it’s really a pair of jeans I want to fit back into and a certain way I want my abs to look & a return of that smooth bra line on my back!  I know I have to burn that blanket in order to see the muscles underneath!
  8. Every day, I feel better & better.  I’m more creative & energetic.  Even though the results are slow (by tabloid standards) as long as I’m doing all the right things, I will continue to progress towards my goals.
  9. I have a good attitude.  This is not a chore.  This is a choice.  It’s a healthy way of life & I am better for it (just as I am certain you will be!)!!

These are pictures of me at the TUGALOO Triathlon – 4 years apart!

April before Comin' out the water_resized

My first Triathlon. Hard, mostly because i was overweight, out of shape and didn't train very much. But it was a start!

[caption id="attachment_1195" align="aligncenter" width="137" caption="Same race - 4 years later. Still hard! But this time it was because I raced fast enough to go Top 3! "]After 4 yrs. of consistant effort!  [/caption]

November 18, 2009

Phys Ed: Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

A neurons in the brain.
Joubert/Photo Researchers, Inc A neuron in the brain.

Researchers at Princeton University recently made a remarkable discovery about the brains of rats that exercise. Some of their neurons respond differently to stress than the neurons of slothful rats. Scientists have known for some time that exercise stimulates the creation of new brain cells (neurons) but not how, precisely, these neurons might be functionally different from other brain cells.

Phys Ed

In the experiment, preliminary results of which were presented last month at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, scientists allowed one group of rats to run. Another set of rodents was not allowed to exercise. Then all of the rats swam in cold water, which they don’t like to do. Afterward, the scientists examined the animals’ brains. They found that the stress of the swimming activated neurons in all of the ’ brains. (The researchers could tell which neurons were activated because the cells expressed specific genes in response to the stress.) But the youngest brain cells in the running rats, the cells that the scientists assumed were created by running, were less likely to express the genes. They generally remained quiet. The “cells born from running,” the researchers concluded, appeared to have been “specifically buffered from exposure to a stressful experience.” The rats had created, through running, a brain that seemed biochemically, molecularly, calm.

For years, both in popular imagination and in scientific circles, it has been a given that exercise enhances mood. But how exercise, a physiological activity, might directly affect mood and anxiety — psychological states — was unclear. Now, thanks in no small part to improved research techniques and a growing understanding of the biochemistry and the genetics of thought itself, scientists are beginning to tease out how exercise remodels the brain, making it more resistant to stress. In work undertaken at the University of Colorado, Boulder, for instance, scientists have examined the role of serotonin, a neurotransmitter often considered to be the “happy” brain chemical. That simplistic view of serotonin has been undermined by other researchers, and the University of Colorado work further dilutes the idea. In those experiments, rats taught to feel helpless and anxious, by being exposed to a laboratory stressor, showed increased serotonin activity in their brains. But rats that had run for several weeks before being stressed showed less serotonin activity and were less anxious and helpless despite the stress.

Other researchers have looked at how exercise alters the activity of dopamine, another neurotransmitter in the brain, while still others have concentrated on the antioxidant powers of moderate exercise. Anxiety in rodents and people has been linked with excessive oxidative stress, which can lead to cell death, including in the brain. Moderate exercise, though, appears to dampen the effects of oxidative stress. In an experiment reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting, rats whose oxidative-stress levels had been artificially increased with injections of certain chemicals were extremely anxious when faced with unfamiliar terrain during laboratory testing. But rats that had exercised, even if they had received the oxidizing chemical, were relatively nonchalant under stress. When placed in the unfamiliar space, they didn’t run for dark corners and hide, like the unexercised rats. They insouciantly explored.

“It looks more and more like the positive stress of exercise prepares cells and structures and pathways within the brain so that they’re more equipped to handle stress in other forms,” says Michael Hopkins, a graduate student affiliated with the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Laboratory at Dartmouth, who has been studying how exercise differently affects thinking and emotion. “It’s pretty amazing, really, that you can get this translation from the realm of purely physical stresses to the realm of psychological stressors.”

The stress-reducing changes wrought by exercise on the brain don’t happen overnight, however, as virtually every researcher agrees. In the University of Colorado experiments, for instance, rats that ran for only three weeks did not show much reduction in stress-induced anxiety, but those that ran for at least six weeks did. “Something happened between three and six weeks,” says Benjamin Greenwood, a research associate in the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, who helped conduct the experiments. Dr. Greenwood added that it was “not clear how that translates” into an exercise prescription for humans. We may require more weeks of working out, or maybe less. And no one has yet studied how intense the exercise needs to be. But the lesson, Dr. Greenwood says, is “don’t quit.” Keep running or cycling or swimming. (Animal experiments have focused exclusively on aerobic, endurance-type activities.) You may not feel a magical reduction of stress after your first jog, if you haven’t been exercising. But the molecular biochemical changes will begin, Dr. Greenwood says. And eventually, he says, they become “profound.”

November 10, 2009

Efficient Running Made Easy

A note from Michael Williams, USAT Certified Coach

Efficient Running Made Easy
 
Running is the simplest and most convenient form of exercise there is. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and off you go. No driving to the gym, no tires to pump…..shoes on and out the door you go.

Once you are out the door, work on developing the proper type of running form that will make running not only convenient but enjoyable as well.

Focusing on these five elements of running can help you run faster and more efficiently.

1.Stride Length and Stride Rate

The most common inefficiency in the average runner is over-striding. This is typically visible by a heavy heel strike and a low stride rate. The target stride rate for most age group runners is between 88-90 foot strikes per minute. (how many times one foot hits the ground per minute) By targeting this rate, (or higher) athletes will often shorten their stride to become more efficient and lessen strain on their joints.

2.Foot strike

This is very closely related to an athlete’s stride. The optimal foot strike is mid foot or in some cases forefoot. A heel strike is the runner’s way of putting on the brakes. This is also very hard on hip and knee joints.

3.Arm movement

Arms are an essential part of running. They provide balance and often additional power. Keep arms close to the body, elbows bent about 90 degrees, not crossing the center line of the body. Keep movements “quit” and relaxed.

4.Body Position

Forward lean or lack thereof can play a major part in efficiency. The best general thought to have while focusing on body position is: “Run Tall.” This means run with your head high, looking 15-30 feet in front of you. Run erect with your shoulders back and arms at your side (remember #3). A slight forward lean of about 5-6 degrees is often optimal to assist in proper foot strike and cadence.

5.Shoes

Yes, shoes! This is one of the most often overlooked yet essential aspects of running well. Many foot shapes, gait types, and stride techniques require many different types of shoes. Buy your shoes from a reputable running specific store that will analyze your foot along with your run technique to offer an optimum shoe.

Now Run For It and Feel WoW!

Michael

USATCertifiedCoach_resized


November 3, 2009

Laura Ryan – way to go girl!!

Laura Ryan – lost 25 pounds!
(I love the running shoes in the background!)Laura Ryan
Happy 1 yr WoW! Anniversary to Laura…and what a way to celebrate!  She just completed her 2nd Triathlon last month and weighed in 25 pounds less than she did when she started WoW! Boot Camp exactly 1 year ago.  

Laura’s big losses:
25 pounds
7 % body fat
4 1/4 ” off her hips
3 1/4″ thighs
2 1/4″ waist
2″ chest-above the breast-which really measures your “back fat” (lovely!)
1 1/2″ bicep

For 8 months Laura showed up at WoW! – consistantly – but only lost a few pounds here and there.  It wasn’t until the last 4 months that the weight literally started “falling off”.

I asked Laura to share with other WoW! Boot Campers what changes she made – especially in the last 4 months – to see te weight come off.  Here’s what Laura had to say!
#1-I quit going out at night.  Meaning – she cut way down on consuming alchohol.  She said there were two main reasons.  First, she started working longer hours and started attending grad school.  Second, she started training for a Triathlon.  “You can’t get up and have a quality workout if you’ve been out the night before”. 
Which leads to #2-I bought a bike and started training for a triathlon.  Laura  found that having something to train for made it easier to choose to exercise on her off days from Boot Camp-so she was getting in 5-6 days of exercise per week.  She added swimming, biking and additional runs to her regimen.  Nothing drastic.  Just 30-45 min of swim or run.  A little longer on the bike.
#3-I changed my diet-BIG TIME!  Laura said she dusted off her WoW! cooler pack and started using it.  She takes her snacks and lunches to work and school with her.  “In the morning (or the night before) I plan what I am going to eat for the entire day-then I take it with me and stick to it!”

WHAT CAN YOU CAN FIND IN LAURA’S WOW! BAG?
Always an apple!
String Cheese
1 cup of grapes
Low fat yogurt
8 Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks
Veggie Wrap-La Tortialla w/ 2 T hummus, cucumber, carrots and any other veggies she has on hand.
Turkey Wrap-La Tortialla w/ Honey maple turkey & low fat pepper jack cheese.
Lean Cuisine Pannini-Chicken, mushroom & spinach

Laura says she always makes time for breakfast!
BREAKFAST
Mini bagels with WW Cream Cheese
2 egg whites with serving of cheese and topped with salsa
Fiber One muffin from Fiber One muffin mix
DINNER
Pastaroni (Tomato parmesan) with tons of sauteed veggies.  Like squash, zuccini, mushrooms.
Veggie Bowl from Transmetropolitan (Because it’s across from where i live).  It’s literally a bowl of veggies.  You can choose steamed or sauteed and it comes with a serving of bread.

All the time at boot camp prior to these last 4 months were not in vain though!  Laura would have been gaining weight had she not stuck with the WoW! program.  Additionally, she was building the cardiovascular strengh and endurance she needed to progress.  And she was learning-getting inspired by others & making small changes that were getting her ready for bigger ones!  REALLY BIG CHANGE happens when YOU are ready to put forth the effort necessary to take the next step!

Callaway TriSusan Little (WoW! girl!), Stephanie (WoW! 5:30 & 8:30am instructor) & Laura Ryan get ready for their first TRIATHLON!!

 

a note from Laura:

I just wanted to talk about the impact WoW! Boot Camp has had on me. When attending my first boot camp with a friend I felt like I was attempting the impossible. My first month was difficult, but I “truly” believe it was the power of WoW! Boot Camp that has motivated me to regain control of my body. Every single woman at WoW! has inspired me and kept me going when all I wanted to do was quit. This summer, I completed my fist sprint triathlon at Callaway Gardens.  April was there to watch me, Stephanie and my friend and fellow boot camper, Susan Little, compete in the race. I can’t explain how incredible it felt to run through that finish line; an accomplishment which I give credit to WoW! Boot Camp for providing me with the support, training, and motivation I lacked. It has seriously changed the way I live my life, and I feel so much happier than ever before.

So thank you April, all the instructors, and every single boot camper for being the inspirational people you are! – Laura Ryan

 

October 5, 2009

Born to Run!

Born to Run
Authored by Chris McDougall

April with Born to Run author Chris McDougall - may my running be forever changed!

April with Born to Run author Chris McDougall

Below is an excerpt from his book I felt compelled to share.

To set the stage:  Coach Vigil (a real character in Chris’s book) is an elite College cross country coach with 26 national titles & was named College Nat’l Coach of the Year a record 14 times.  He’s sitting in the woods at 4am waiting to catch a glimpse of the Tarahumara pack (& a female science teacher who’s trying to beat them) racing the Leadville Ultramarathon.  Then he sees them…

“SUCH A SENSE of joy!” marveled Coach Vigil, who’d never seen anything like it, either.”  Glee and determination are usually antagonistic emotions, yet the Tarahumara were brimming with both at once, as if running to the death made them feel more alive.

“How do you flip the internal switch that changes us all back into the Natural Born Runners we once were?  Not just in history, but in our own lifetimes.  Remember?  Back when you were a kid and you had to be yelled at to slow down?  Every game you played, you played at top speed, sprinting like crazy as you kicked cans, freed all, and attacked jungle outposts in your neighbors’ backyards.  Half the fun of doing anything was doing it at record pace, making it probably the last time in your life you’d ever be hassled for going too fast.

Born to Run author runs with the Game Day Run crowd.  UGA vs LSU

Game Day Run 10.3.09 with Chris McDougall

That was the real secret of the Tarahumara:  they’d never forgotten what it felt like to love running.  They remembered that running was mankind’s first fine art, our original act of inspired creation.  Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain.

Perhaps all our troubles-all the violence, obesity, illness, depression, and greed we can’t overcome-began when we stopped living as Running People.  Deny your nature, and it will erupt in some other, uglier way.

What an amazing experience this weekend meeting Chris!  I cannot put this book down & would love for all of you to read it!  It’s more than just a book about running.

WoW!…more than just a workout!

April

September 10, 2009

Easy Snack Option!

A snack provided by mother nature is always best (like fruit! w/ some nutbutter), but it’s not always convenient, available or what you want.

Try these high protein, low carb options for only 2 Weight Watcher points each.  You can find them at Wal-mart, Kroger or Target & i’m sure at your favorite grocery store.  Just look on the Nutrition Bar isles.  Great option for all WoW! men & women. 

Easy Snack Option!

Easy Snack Option!

August 23, 2009

Consistency & Balance

Want to get in shape AND stay in shape?  It is all about consistency and balance

DIET—get on a smart plan and stick to it at least 85% of the time! Give yourself occasional breaks on weekends to prevent cheating during the week! If you do goof-up a bit, get right back to it the next meal. Be consistent with the number of meals per day, portion sizes, and the times you eat. Balance your food groups. Eat whole grains, lean meats, fruits, low-fat dairy, nuts, and lots of vegetables! It is not about “low carb”, it is about the “right carbs!”

EXERCISE—Show up for Boot Camp on your scheduled days (that covers 2 or 3 days for you!) and do something (pilates, walk, elliptical, run, swim, bike, yoga….) at least 5x/week on average! Be consistent week to week…it should never be “all or nothing!” Balance cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training.

So…some of you may read the comments above and take it at face value.  Good common sense.  You grab onto it and say “yeah, I can do this.  It’s simple.  Let’s go!”  Many others of you will read this & think to yourself “yeah, whatever! It’s not that easy.  It’s hard!  I don’t have that kind of willpower.”

People think losing weight is all about willpower.  It’s not.  It’s also not about a moral issue.  You have not been bad.  You do not need to punish yourself with a life of white-knuckled deprivation.  It’s about self care.  It’s about taking time for self care.  It’s about changing your attitude – then your behavior and lifestyle!!

How did I make the transition to self care after years of neglect?  Consistency & Balance.  With DIET, EXERCISE & my most importantly my THOUGHTS!!

I use to think I was consistent with Exercise & Diet:  EXERCISE:  If I was truly honest with myself, I was only working out 1 maybe 2x per week.  I would have this really hard effort, feel wiped out and because I was sore I was done for the week. That kept getting me no where (but feeling defeated!) for a very long time.  It was the all or nothing approach, which I also took with my DIET:  I thought if I said no for one entire day to some yummy dessert or chips & cheese dip (because those are my major weaknesses) I should wake up the next day having lost 5 pounds or my pants should be looser.  When that miracle didn’t come to pass I would be pissed off and say “to hell with it” and go hit the “Hot Now” spot at Krispy Kreme.  I so didn’t get that I had to string a bunch of those “just say no” days together (like 9 months! worth) to lose the 40 pounds I eventually would go on to lose.  AND…learn that I could on occasion eat those things in moderation! without guilt (defiantly a concept that moves you towards Balance…which for some of us comes & goes and takes a lot of tweaking and patience!)

Ohhhh! How stinkin’ thinkin’  keeps you down!  I had to learn 3 main things when it comes to changing my thoughts: 

1.  Just because I think it, it doesn’t make it true.  (we’re thought to have some 2-3K thoughts per day!) That’s a lot floating around in our mind & it’s controlling our actions and our perception of reality.  Ever notice how there’s those 1 set of thoughts that can get you down every time.  It can spiral out of control like a whirling cesspool dragging you under…..”I’m never going to ______”  “I’m a terrible ________”. “If only ________”, “I shouldn’t have __________”.  Blame, shame, guilt, inadequacy, fear, resentment almost like a trance these thoughts can drag you down, keeping you from moving forward.  But the cool thing is….you can stop them & move forward! How do you stop them?  You talk to someone you trust.  You literally stop them by refusing to dwell on them.  When a defeating thought comes up, you don’t judge it (who knows why they come!)  you just don’t indulge or entertain it.  You don’t act on the thought.  Feeling angry and frustrated and kicking the dog only leads to kicking the dog some more and continuing to feel bad.  Gratitude is a miracle worker! 

2.  I can be done with the past.  I can have forgiveness for myself and forgive others.  Accept that we’re all doing the best we can at the given moment.  I choose to no longer pass harsh judgment on myself or others.  I hold fast to the truth that we are beautiful, complete children of God (whatever that may be for you!).  No matter how many times we have moments of being selfish, quick to anger, forgetful, disrespectful, impulsive, gluttonous, bitter….we’re still loved.  We just goofed – that’s all.  Period!  No need to take yourself down to the cesspool! 

3.  I can refuse to have thoughts of giving up!  I don’t have to awfulize a setback (injury, weight gain, mistake, missed workout, argument, etc.).  I can keep moving forward no matter what.  I now find encouragement in other’s accomplishments.  Ann participated in WoW! for over a year…hanging out between 170-150.  She finally unloaded some useless mental baggage, changed her attitude and now weighs a steady 129.  Marti gave me a magnet with a quote by Winston Churchhill.  It simply says “Never, Never, Never Give Up!”  I choose to live by this.

Realize that every day is an opportunity to create the reality you want for yourself!  You can be whoever you want to be.  (That’s worth reading again & again…until you believe it!)  Look for inspiration and encouragement.

First – shut out the negative.  TV, talk radio, the News…mostly they’re dishing out nothing but negativity – things I have absolutely no control over.  You’ll be amazed how hopeful and energized you are when you shut out the gloom & doom they’re selling. 

Meditate. 

Try a random act of kindness – make a difference for someone that’s literally right under your nose.  A family member, a neighbor, a coworker, a boot camper you haven’t yet spoken to.  A smile, a gentle touch, a word of encouragement, a compliment, a helping hand….goes a long way!

 I find lots of inspiration from reading about other’s successes in books.  A good self-help or motivational CD goes a long way & so does some uplifting, creative tunes. 

Find your happy place.  Creativity and Expression through dance, music, visual arts, is just as vital a part of health as diet and exercise.  Maybe you can find it at the bookstore, coffee with friends, the garden, an art museum, painting, writing, organizing.

Below is an excerpt taken from Jon Gordon’s The Energy Bus.

The fact is we all have positive and negative thoughts.  It’s part of our human nature.  The key is to feed the positive & starve the negative.  The more we feed the positive, the more positive and stronger we become.  Practice this every day until it’s a habit.  Here are just a few additional ways to feed that positive side: 

  • Practice gratitude:  You can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time.  Gratitude is like muscle; the more you do it the stronger it gets.  Take 10 min each day and make a list of what you are thankful for.  You will fill your body & brain with costless & priceless anti-depressant.
  • Take a 10-min “walk of gratitude” each day.
  • Turn off the news.  Starve the negative.
  • Smile more.  It enhances your serotonin levels and lifts you up.
  • Focus on “get to” versus “have to”.  I get to get up and go to WoW! Boot Camp today.
  • Reread uplifting books.
  • Get together with a positive, uplifting person.
  • Call or visit someone who has made a difference in your life and thank them (research shows this is a huge happiness booster).
  • Write a few thank you notes!  When you thank other you feed them & yourself.
  • Start a success journal.  Write down the one great thing about your day.  The more you look for success, the more you will find it!
  • Decide to make a difference.  When you help other people with their problems you forget about your own.

April Williams
WoW! Boot Camp, Founder

 
 
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