Run Forrest, Run. part 3

So far in this 3 part series, Run Forrest, Run,  I’ve talked about why people don’t run, running versus other forms of cardio, and today I’m going to talk about how running can be enjoyable. There are ways to make running enjoyable, just find what works for you.

You can listen to your iPod while you run. Create a running playlist with really high-powered, up-beat songs that get you moving. Put one or two or these songs in a place in your song line-up where you feel like you start to slow down in your run and need an extra push.

For some ideas, here is a list of my favorite power songs:

  • Summer by Calvin Harris
  • Counting Stars by One Republic
  • Daylight by Matt and Kim
  • Neon Lights by Demi Lavato
  • Lights by Ellie Goulding
  • Feel So Close by Calvin Harris
  • Midnight City by M83
  • Call Him by Flame

Run outside! It is so much more fun running outside than running outdoors. The scenery is constantly changing and you can just lose track of time. Look around as you run. Not every run has to be your best time or a competition. Once or twice a week run to just enjoy the run. Think about the way running makes you feel and breathe in the fresh air. It really cleanses the soul.

Run with friends! Having friends that run is one of the best tactics to get you to run when you aren’t in the mood. They keep you motivated and encouraged to push yourself. Sometimes they know what you are capable of more than you do, and running with them can make the time fly. I was on the University of North Georgia cross country team, and if it wasn’t for those ladies, a lot of track workouts would not have been done well. They really pushed me and encouraged me.

2012-2013 UNG Women's Team

UNG Women’s Team 2012-2013

Races are on of the best ways to keep you motivated to train. If you sign up for a 5K, which is 3.1 miles, you know you can’t back down on your running because you have to be ready. And races are so much fun! You feel like an official runner once you pin your race bib to yourself and line up to start. You feel like your on top of the world, and with all the runners around you, you typically will run one of your best times to date. Afterwards, reward yourself for all of your hard training. Go to your favorite frozen yogurt place, or buy yourself a new running shirt. You deserve it for all that you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come!

Not all races have to be timed. Sign up for a fun race! Ever heard of the Color Run 5K? What you do is wear white clothing, and then at every kilometer there are volunteers who throw dyed cornstarch on you as you pass. At the end of the race you look like a rainbow, and there is a DJ with music for a party! Celebrate! Fun and exciting races are popping up everywhere now, so sign up!

Before the Color Run

Before the Color Run

After the Color Run

After the Color Run

Running can be fun and enjoyable! It can be done anytime, anywhere, regardless of weather or time of year. Running can also be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of experience or body type. We aren’t all going to be Olympic athletes, but should that stop you from trying something new?


Run Forrest, Run. part 2

Why should you run versus other forms of cardio?

Running is great because it does not require any equipment. As long as you have running shoes and a safe location, you can run. Indoors or outdoors, running is a simple form of cardio that shows real progress.

Unlike an elliptical or stationary bike, you do not have to be inside or a member of gym to benefit from cardio. This is especially convenient if you travel and do not have access to a gym. I studied abroad in Spain for 5 weeks, and guess what I did every morning? That’s right, I ran. I saw more and experienced more than I ever thought I could, because I got out of my comfort zone and truly experienced the beautiful geography everyday. I saw amazing sunrises rising over the ocean, explored different cities, found new museums and parks to visit, and passed restaurants I wanted to try. My running partner and I loved our morning runs. Check out some of the places I would run:

The Barcelona boardwalk

The Barcelona boardwalk

El Retiro Park

El Retiro Park in Madrid

Running is also easier for keeping track of progress. Shorter times or longer distances are perfect ways to know that you are constantly amping up your workout and pushing yourself to your best effort. In addition, if a run does become easier, it is because you are beginning to master the task. That’s wonderful news! That means your body is getting used to the effort you are putting on your body and feels more experienced.

Running is also a better choice than exercise classes, because you do not have to deal with crowds or hot, sweaty rooms. If running, you can be by yourself in quiet to collect your thoughts. You won’t have to worry about having enough room during your workout and sweating profusely because of others. And when you run, you can push yourself harder because you don’t have to slow down for others who don’t know what they are doing.

Running is also a great because you don’t need others to do it. Team sports like soccer and football require others to make the sport and the exercise even possible. However, what if you were on a volleyball team and wanted to workout one day? It is hard to do your best workout and training alone. Team sports need other people for it to be efficient. If you run, you don’t need others. You can do it anytime of day, anywhere without needing to rely on others to make it happen.

That is one of the best parts of running. If you do run or compete in a race, the time you get is all you. You were the one who put in the time and effort, no one else made you do that well. It is a true sense of self-accomplishment and very rewarding to know that you did so well all on you own. It’s fun to let others know your best times, and to know that if you eventually beat those times it was because you worked hard to achieve them.

So, lace up those sneakers and start running! Stay tuned for the last part of this series: how to make running enjoyable.

Run Forrest, Run. part 1

Running. For some people it’s a wonderful form of exercise that releases endorphins and makes them feel like they’re flying. For others, it is the worst form of punishment in the world used by coaches or boot camp trainers.

This brings me to my first part in a three-part series: the reasons people do not run.

You may not run for various reasons. Maybe because you’d rather sprint than go long distance, or even because it is very difficult to gain muscle when doing so much cardio. And beyond that, people are concerned with looking silly or out of shape while running.

Check out that form!

Check out that form!

These are common and understandable reasons not to run.

To address the first concern of you’d rather sprint than run long distance. Sprints and suicides are popular and extremely beneficial ways to run; running 400m as fast as you can and feeling fast is an awesome sensation. It was always great as kid to be considered the fastest, not the one who could run for an hour and not be out of breath. No one ever cared about stuff like that. But now, being able to compete in a 5K or go for a jog with your neighbor is a great goal. It can seem daunting to say, “I’m going to run 6 miles.” Running is a mental game, so instead tell yourself, “I’m going to run 3 miles.” If you run 3 miles in one direction, you have no choice but to run 3 miles back home, and next thing you know you’ve completed 6 miles. Generally, you can do more than you think you can.

The other issue is for those who are trying to gain muscle. It has been proven that the more chronic cardio you do, the less muscle you are able to maintain or build. As you perform extended cardio, your body begins to break down its fat, and you commonly lose weight overtime. However, when you have little fat to lose and have don’t have a high enough calorie intake, your body will begin to break down its muscle. It is common to see long-distance runners who are very lean, and less muscular than sprinters, because they are not concerned with keeping on too much muscle. Running for 2 hours burns about 1000 or more calories, and just 30 minutes depending on weight and speed can burn about 300 calories. However, those trying to gain muscle typically still do some form of cardio 2-3 times a week. Why not run? Running is perfect because it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can always run. No equipment necessary, and as long as you up your calorie intake that day, you shouldn’t have an issue with muscle gain. One of my friends lifts weights everyday, and has built a lot of muscle over the course of the last couple of semesters. However, he runs 2-3 times a week, for about 30 minutes, and he hasn’t had any issues with muscle loss.

The last reason you may not run is for fear of looking silly and inexperienced while running. Like any sport or exercise, it takes time and patience. You can’t expect to put on running shoes and run for 4 miles and feel great. It takes a lot of time. I used to not be able to run for a mile without being out of breath, but as I began to build up my base I was able to increase beyond that. I used to look so silly running. I was constantly out of breath, panting, sore, and drooling because I was too tired to swallow my spit. People would say stuff to me, and I became embarrassed so I switched to a treadmill where no one could see me. That’s okay! Start running in a place you are comfortable, and you can go your own pace. However, as you are able to increase mileage and speed, try stepping outdoors for a few runs. Don’t expect to be able to run 4 miles at an 8 minute pace because you were able to do it on a treadmill. Outside, you have to propel yourself forward; the road doesn’t do it for you. And don’t feel discouraged by other runners passing you or who look like they are barely trying. They all started where you are.

We all have to have our weak moments to become stronger. If you are still worried about running, find a partner to run with. Running with friends keeps you motivated to keep up and not all eyes will be on you as you run.

Just remember: if you run, you’re a runner! And stay tuned for next weeks post: why you should run versus other forms of cardio.

Don’t Be That Girl…

Don’t be that girl at the gym.

Trust me, I used to be one of these people, and sometimes I still am. I’m not trying to put these ladies down. I just think we need to be more enlightened about gym etiquette and some of the gym stereotypes we may be reinforcing.

Don’t be this girl at the gym:

  • The Cardio Bunny: I’m looking at you girl who walks in, jumps on the elliptical or treadmill, pounds out 45-60 minutes, changes and then goes home. Cardiovascular exercise is absolutely wonderful for you. It strengthens your heart and lungs, increases brain productivity, and helps lower risks for heart disease and stroke. But if that is all that you are doing, then you are doing yourself a disservice. You’re lacking a very crucial aspect of exercise: resistance-training. And you are simultaneously reinforcing the stereotype that woman are afraid to lift heavy weights. Please stop doing cardio everyday and never going near the weight rack. Burning 400 calories everyday with cardio, and never putting on muscle (which burns calories by the way), will only go so far.
  • The Pink Dumbbells Girl: It’s a running joke that woman walk over to lift a few weights, to ya know, get toned like the celebrity on the cover of that magazine, and what do they reach for? The 8 lb. dumbbells. Maybe 10 lbs. Anything more intense will make you bulky and manly. I’m not saying this stereotype applies to all girls, but this theology is so wrong on so many levels. Ladies, please listen to me! Lifting weights will not make you bulky! You do not have enough testosterone in your body and you do not drink enough supplements to put on that type of mass. But you want to have nice muscle definition? Lifting light weights with no phase training or plan will get you nowhere and you are just wasting your time. You need to lift heavy at least twice a week, and you’ll watch the strength and beautiful muscles emerge.
  • The Beauty Queen: You see her as she walks in. Beautifully curled or straightened hair with blinding shine, enough mascara to weigh the eyelids down, gloss on the lips, and maybe some light pink blush to give that “just worked out” look. Just when you think she might start bursting into a sweat, she sets the treadmill to 3 mph and proceeds to walk for the next 30 minutes. She looks beautiful, so graceful up there, but it’s too perfect… Ladies, no one cares what you look like at the gym. Let me repeat that: no one cares. Sorry if that’s harsh, but this is not the time to be your best looking or trying to impress that hottie you spotted. Exercising should be about your health, fitness, and overall well-being, not about what others think about you. People at the gym will be far more impressed with a sweaty mess busting out some sprints on the treadmill or going for a one rep max on the bench press than they ever will with what you look like at that moment. And when you work hard and consistently in the gym, you’ll look good all the time.


  • The Chatty Kathy: Woman love to talk. It’s in our DNA. And when we get around some of our closest friends the good times roll and we can laugh and talk about anything and everything. Catching up on life is fun and having a workout partner is great, but remember what you are at the gym for: to exercise. This is not social hour. If you go to the gym and end up talking on or near a machine the whole time, you are wasting yours and everyone’s time. Do not ever sit or stand on equipment and just talk. It’s rude. You had better be doing something with that equipment or please get off and let someone else use it. There are people at the gym who there to workout and do nothing else, so please respect the facility and the other members. (This also applies to the ladies who sit around on equipment and text or call people- talk to them when you are off the machine).
  • The Justifier: How many times have you heard a girl at the gym mention what she is going to eat after she finishes exercising because she “earned” it? How many of you are that girl? No, a 40 minute workout does not justify a Diary Queen blizzard that is 740 calories. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t. Yeah, you may feel better about eating it because you burned some calories, but don’t sabotage all of your hard efforts in the gym with a poor diet. Abs are made in the kitchen and you will see your best results outside the gym with a consistent diet.  Never use exercise to justify your eating. It’s a bad habit. But if you do decide you want to eat a special meal or decadent dessert, just do it. Don’t feel like you need to reason with yourself or others.

These are just some of the top 5 offenses I have seen women commit at the gym and they are all just silly. For help on defeating these stereotypes visit ACSM for advice and guidelines on how to set-up an appropriate cardiovascular and resistance-training program. Also, talk to a Registered Dietician or a corporate or university provided nutritionist for advice on healthy eating habits and choices. Be mindful of your intentions and actions at the gym, and keep working towards the best health and fitness you can achieve.