First 5K for 2013 – Luckython in Aloha OR


Well I missed the boat on the “Shamrock” run, but after thinking about it, running with 35,000 people sounds daunting. I’ve opted for a run the day before 3/16 in Aloha OR, the “Luckython”. I literally don’t know any more about it than that, it’s a 5K run, starting at 4PM, and I’m planning to run it.

I’d like to set a goal of 30 minutes or less, meaning about a 10 minute mile. I know I can go faster than that on the treadmill on pretty much flat terrain, so I think I should be able to hit this mark. I now need to focus on my running more, hope this gets me to that goal!

If anyone wants to join me, let me know! It should be fun. There’s even a potato bar at the end… lol.


The Gym as a Tool

Quite arguably the best tool in the arsenal to lose weight is your local gym. While it’s possible to lose weight and gain strength without one, I think that most people feel the need to have a gym at their disposal. I joined a gym years ago when I lived in Seattle that was acquired by 24 Hour Fitness. It worked out great for me, I have unlimited access to the majority of 24 Hour Fitness gyms for a mere $10 a month now. It’s a monthly fee I’ve often paid years for when I have never even used it. But now that I’m living close to one, and they seem to be more prevalent is the area I live, I don’t regret that the years of non use at all.

Most gyms are broken down into several distinct functional areas:

Weights/Free weights/Machines
– The main floors of most gyms have a free weights section comprised of dumbbells, weight benches, bars, and other types of interchangeable weight systems. They typically also have all the machines that can take weight plates and racks for doing squats. Weight training is good for burning calories and for building muscle.

Cardio Equipment – These consist of the machines used for doing cardiovascular training like treadmills, elliptical  stair masters, stair climbers, and rowing machines. These machines are great for cardiovascular training and fat burning. Cardio machines typically are a great way to burn a high amount of calories with the right type of workout.

Spin Bikes – Although technically cardio equipment, I like to break spin bikes out into their own category, as most gyms keep them all together. They are typically located near the other cardio equipment, but you’ll often find gyms that have rooms full of nothing but spin bikes. These spin studios are used for spinning classes and bike related workouts. Spinning is a great workout, and is ideal for almost anyone as they require no special skills to use.

Zumba/Pilates/Aerobics/Dance/Yoga Studios – Another thing that most gyms have is some sort of dedicated studio for Yoga, Pilates, Aerobics and Dance type of workouts. These type of workouts are great for people that like to work out with a group of others, and change up the monotony of being stuck on cardio equipment.

Pools/Sauna/Steam – The pool is one of the best low impact, high calorie burning workouts you can find. Swimming laps takes a significant amount of energy, and can be a very challenging workout. A lot of gyms also have some other pool related amenities available like Sauna, Steam Rooms, and hot tubs, which are all great after a tiring workout. They’ll make you sweat, and the heat feels great on sore muscles.

Basketball – Playing one on one, or traditional basket ball is a great way to raise your heart rate and burn calories.

Stretching/Floor Areas – There are typically multiple areas where you can do stretching and floor exercises like push ups, sit ups, and exercise ball work.

A lot of gyms also offer low cost day care that you can take advantage of for those times when you have your little ones with you. Finding the right gym for you is important, as if you don’t like the gym, you ultimately won’t go. Why would you want to spend your hard earned money each month for nothing? I know that memberships at my gym start at around $40 per month for unlimited access to that single location.

Watch for sales, and deals too. Costco is a great place to check, but make sure you read the details, some clubs have different service levels, you don’t want to buy a 2-3 year membership at a discount to find that it didn’t work for the primary location you were considering. Be sure to do your homework and ensure that the membership you purchase works for you. Also keep in mind that there’s generally some wiggle room when it comes to joining a gym. Be sure to remember you can negotiate some, if they won’t come down on monthly fees, or waving initiation/joining fees, ask for a few free personal training sessions. The gym should be able to do something to win your business!

Finding a gym with all of the things listed above is a great step in having the tools you need to create a workout routine that will lead to your weight loss success!

Tech Review – iPhone Nike+ Running Application

This is the second Nike+ running application that I have reviewed, you can read the previous article here. What’s different about this application is that it requires no external sensor in your shoe, it uses the sensors and technology built into your phone that the application is running on.

The application is very basic but works well. There’s several different ways to start a run:

Basic Run – A basic run is just that, no time, distance or speed constraints or goals.

Distance Run – Set a goal of beating a certain distance, the application will even note your furthest and average distances.

Timed Run – The application will stop at the end of the duration of the time you choose. It will also tell you how long your last run was, and encourage you to run longer.

Speed Run – Choosing a speed run will give you options of beating your fastest 1K, 5K, or mile, once you’ve established some runs.

Location – Allows you to specify your location, outdoors, indoors, etc.

Music – Let’s you choose if you want random music, a certain playlist, or none.

Get Cheers – If you elect to share that you’re starting a run on Facebook, anyone that “likes” or comments on your run, you’ll supposedly hear cheering during your run, I don’t think anyone has done that during my runs yet.

Once you’ve chosen a run type, and start your run, the application gives you a three second countdown, allowing you to put your phone where it needs to go. Any time while you are running you can look down and see your pace, distance traveled and the current song that’s playing. There are also controls to go back and forth between songs. There’s a power song button that will play one of your power songs that you setup in the application settings. The power song is helpful for when you feel like you’re about to run out of energy. You can also lock the screen to prevent any accidental changes being made during your run.

During the run, the application will audibly alert you at 10 minute increments of your time.

After the Run

There are several great features that you can check out after you’re done with your run. The achievements system in Nike+ is better than I’ve seen in almost any application. At the end of your run, it’s possible to get achievements based on your performance. There’s also celebrity athlete voices that will congratulate you on your new achievements. It’s kind of fun to get the recognition and unlock new achievements. Note the awful bug below, that shows my fastest 5K was 44:17 on the iPhone app, but login to the Nike+ website, and it says 30:08?

After any run is done, you can drill into your historical run, and see your pace on a graph, you can see areas where you ran faster, vs. slower, see your overall pace, and calories burned. If you want to track your mood, type of run, and what shoes you used, and any notes you may want to write. You also have the option to share the data on many social networking sites.

Nike+ Running is connected to your Nike+ account online, and run data is uploaded to Nike. The application displays your cumulative mileage total, number of runs, total calories burned and overall average pace. Turning the phone to the landscape position reveals a bar chart that shows runs on a graph, clicking any of the bars takes you to that run’s detail view.

The Good
The application is simple to use, shows all of the data after the run I like to see, and works well considering it’s using the built in hardware of the iPhone vs. a sensor in the shoes. I like the social media aspects of it, and think it would be cool to hear cheering while I am running.

The Bad
Overall the application is very good, I don’t like the fact that I have to dig it out of my pocket to see the distance, and pace. Pressing the “home” button on the iPhone does nothing during your run. The other Nike+ application announces time, distance, and pace whenever the home button is pressed, I really like that a lot better.

I probably won’t use this application much during the run. I will however use it after the run is uploaded from my other Nike+ running application. I wish the other application I use had the social media integration, but the fact that I can’t audibly hear my distance, pace, and time is a deal breaker for me.

Small Victories

When I started running, I could barely get a mile or two in under an hour. I probably honestly walked more of it than I ran, it felt horrible. As I’ve stated before I’m not a good runner, but I’m getting faster, stronger, better. I’m by no means fast by running standards, but compared to MY standards that I started with, I’m way faster. I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone on almost every run. It’s a weird thing, some days I feel invincible when I’m running, others, I just want it to be over, and I’m beat.

3 Months ActiveI really try to approach every run with a positive mindset. Even though I’ve said I hate it, or that I’m not good at it, I really try to be happy about doing it. I’m trying to remember that it’s making me stronger, thinner, and a better person. I’m trying to do a number of things, and building character is one of them. So I’m learning to celebrate the days where I feel like I can push past what I had historically struggled to do. They’re small victories, but they’re huge. It’s something I need to remember not to glaze over and forget.

Fastest Mile So FarThe running application I use does a great job of keeping track of so many things I never even considered; your fastest 1K, 5K, mile, most calories burned in a single run, as well as a plethora of other milestones. It’s great to see with each run that I am consistently improving some of these metrics. This week I ran three times instead of two, and the application even applauded me for “running more than you normally do”. Awwww shucks, thanks! So, while my achievements may not impress hardcore runners, they’re impressing me, especially when I see improvement almost every time I go out.

Sure they’re just silly images on a web site, but they’re motivating, and something that makes me keep wanting to do this, so I think that’s great.

Running – A Necessary Evil

It burns a lot of calories!

Let me state for the record that I hate running. I hate it. I’m not good at it, I enjoy almost nothing about it, but it’s something that’s working for me right now. I’ve been running a flat 5K two to three times per week. When I first started it took forever, and I had to walk for long portions of it. But over the past few weeks I’ve gotten way better at it. I can run for a mile at 6 mph (which is SLOW for most runners) now without a break, and can finish my 5K in around 35 – 38 minutes, which again is slow for most avid runners. I’m trying to run the whole 3.2 miles at 5.5 mph or above. It’s challenging for me still, but I’m building up endurance for sure.

My advice is that if you’re trying to lose weight, just get on a treadmill and go. Don’t worry if you can only run for a minute or two, just get out there and start doing it. Do what you’re capable of, and build on it. I’m trying to challenge myself more each time I go. Some days are great, I get done with my 3.2 miles, and I can go more, and I do. Other days, I’m struggling through the first mile. That’s all part of this process, some days are great, others are awful. I try to be happy with my good days, and know that the bad days are just a temporary thing.

I hate this thing.

There’s a myriad of options when you get on a treadmill, manual mode, weight loss, timed run, interval training. I usually just pick a timed run, and set it for 45 minutes and go. Remember if you’re using the heart rate sensors by holding on to the machine, to push the options button and enter your weight and age. Most of these machines calculate calories burned based on an average 35 year old. Putting in your weight and age, will ensure that it reports an accurate calorie burn. I don’t like to hold on to the handles when I’m running, I wear my heart rate monitor and it wirelessly links to the treadmills at my gym. When I walk up to the machine, it shows my hear rate. It’s nice to have that information available on the screen, so I don’t have to check my watch while I’m running. It’s also nice because it produces a very accurate representation of the calories I burn while on the machine. You also get a way better workout by not hanging on to the machine, I remember seeing a Biggest Loser episode where Jillian Michaels said that holding on during your run or workout decreases the work you’re doing by 30%. If I’m working out to lose weight, I want to be as effective as possible. I want to burn my 500 – 700 calories for the day, and get out of there!

Putting the treadmill on an incline is going to cause your muscles to work harder, more strain, and a much tougher workout. I’m not to that point yet, but when I can run a 5K in under 30 minutes, I’ll start ramping it up (no pun intended). I typically listen to music when I run, and try to focus on whatever the TVs are displaying at the gym. I try to leave my body and kind of check out mentally.

The thing I do like about running is that there is almost always some kind of fun run, or 5K that is happening somewhere. I find that when I have something to keep me accountable, I’ll train for it and continue to work out. If I know in 2 months that I’m going to run a 5K, I want to make sure I run the whole thing, and not walk through any of it. I’ve done one 5K with my daughter several years ago, and that was fun. I’m going to do a run in December, and that’s just one more thing that will keep me motivated and focused to keep working out.