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My Half Marathon Lessons in Miami

My Half Marathon Training Lessons in Miami

From the World Spinning and Conditioning Conference in Miami Florida

Written by Jamie Cocco
UESCA Certified Running Coach

Life is Full

In Miami, life is full of moisture in the form of humidity, which I know all too well because I am sweating while sitting in the shade writing this on a lounge chair.  Miami is full of fun, nightlife, got my salsa dancing on, amazing food (Fratelli Milano, best Italian food ever!!), and this weekend knowledge at the World Spinning and Conditioning Conference.  Here are the lessons I learned about running and training for a Half Marathon while I was there.

Enjoy that fullness

All of the amazing master instructors from the Running, Spinning, Yoga, and Conditioning worlds have several things in common, but the one that stuck out the most is to enjoy life to the fullest.  What does that mean?  We are on a journey, whether that journey leads us to that Half Marathon we are training for in October, (hint: Happy Valley Half Marathon) a laugh filled easy run with friends, or that run to the store before it closes for the pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, because it is a Chunky Monkey kind of day.  Enjoy the process!!  You may ask me, “Jamie, what is the process?”  That process is the small steps you take today for race day.  Each run you take, the moment after you have completed your run, foam rolling session (Scott Samford from Peak Pilates) to recover, and game planning session for the next run. Take a moment to explore, to laugh, and to be in the moment.

Training for a Half Marathon is a Marathon

Improve gradually was one of the biggest tips I received from Jason Karp the founder of Revo2lution Running and author of 8 books, including the Running a Marathon for Dummies, and articles and interviews featured in Runners World, Runners Connect, and so many more.  His advice is to only increase by 1 miles/day/week max.  He goes further by explaining that every 3-4 weeks should include a recover week, where you decrease your total mileage by 1/3.

Comfort in Training

In my training, I want to push the pace every time.  We want to get the most out of every workout, right?  Most of your training should be in a comfortable zone with interchangeable levels of intensity sprinkled in.  If a person pushes the pace every time, they increase their chance of burnout and injury risk.  Jason suggests that we train in the 70-75% of our max range a majority of the time, so we build up our aerobic base.

Increase Distance or Intensity?

You can do both, but not at the same time.  Jason explains that we need to give our body one or the other variable to adapt to, because too much change at once can cause more harm then help.  If you had to choose one of the two, which should you do?  He tells us to focus on increasing distance, because half marathons and marathons are about distance, and setting yourself up for race day is essential.  This does not mean you don’t focus on intensity at all, because a good training program incorporates both to fuel the best adaptation, just not at the same time.  Hill sprints once a month or every other month is a great way to include higher intensity training to your routine.

No surprises

The purpose of training is to eliminate or lessen the opportunity for surprises that can derail your grove and get you away from your Zone, where everything flows.  Throughout your training, simulate race day.  Know what you are going to do to fuel ahead of time, how many water stations there are, what gels you are going to use, and practice.  Tip for gels:  Jason suggests that you don’t use gels too often ahead of time, because you want your body to adapt optimally without them, before using them.

What it all means

Training for a half marathon is a marathon, metaphorically.  You improve gradually with distance and integrate intensity changes all the way until taper.  Don’t worry, we will talk about the taper in a following article.  You prepare yourself mentally and physically for race day throughout your training by simulating the environment.  You fill your training predominantly with easy runs and all of your runs are part of the process to race day.  Take a moment throughout the process to be in the moment, right now, yes, this moment, and during each run.  Because, in the end it is all about enjoying the work you put in today, and the journey of getting to where you want to be.   Some days it is also about the Chunky Monkey Ice Cream.

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Three Steps to Improve Your Balance

Three Steps to Improve Your Balance

Health & Fitness Specialist, Michael McCarthy

Balance can be tricky. It seldom comes easy and the more it’s neglected, the worse it gets. Whether it’s work/life, relationships, or fitness, the long-term benefits of improving your balance can be life changing. For our purposes, let’s stick with fitness.

When training for balance, let’s start at the root of the matter- feet! Most people have had their feet stuffed in their shoes for 8 or more hours per day, every day, for nearly as long as they’ve been alive. Although necessary in most circumstances, the shoes have essentially created a “crutch” for your feet. The muscles of the feet will likely have atrophied (broken down) and weakened, giving you a much less stable surface to move upon. Now I’m not saying to go burn every pair of shoes you own and to relive your Woodstock experience, but let’s address this sooner than later.

First – take your shoes off and let your toes wiggle. Let them breath and feel the ground beneath them. Our feet are incredible sensory tools and require that stimulation to function optimally. Try this out: while standing, take a tennis or lacrosse ball and place it under one foot. Gently apply pressure on the ball and slowly roll your foot up, down, left and right all over this ball. This is a great way to jump starting your nerves, relieve tension in your feet, and bring in some fresh blood supply.

Second – perform a simple exercise to “root” your feet. After you’ve rolled out your feet, stand tall, abdomen and glutes slightly engaged, with your feet facing forward about shoulder width apart. For this exercise you will focus on the connection to the ground with three parts of your foot: big toe, pinky toe, and heel. Apply pressure into the ground with just those three parts of your foot, hold for 10 seconds, and rest. Doing this exercise regularly can help strengthen the muscles of your feet and improve their neuromuscular response, essentially making them more “awake.”

Third – strength train. Having balance requires total body strength and proprioception. Standing still and training balance is one thing, but what about when we’re in motion? Teaching your body how to move through space is incredibly important and even more important as we age. Our feet have been neglected and need attention, however muscles like the glutes and core are incredibly important as well. To truly make an impact on your balance and quality of life I recommend full-body strength training 2-3 times per week. 50/50 Fitness Nutrition provides a great space to strength train in a supervised and safe environment. Programs such as personal training, Targeted Strength, Yoga, and Pilates are all fantastic options to challenge yourself. I hope to see you there!

The Importance of Balance Training

The Importance of Balance Training

Written by Personal Training Director, Jay McWilliams

The Two types of Balance

Here at 50/50, April is all about balance… you know a balance of snow showers and spring flowers. Just kidding! Crazy weather aside, we are taking this month to focus on keeping our bodies in balance. While balance is one of our key focal points for a balanced approach to health and wellness, it can be easily overlooked. I want to take some time to discuss why balance is important, and how we can improve our balance. The importance of balance training is paramount.  Two types of balance are essential for achieving functional balance: static and dynamic balance. Static balance refers to the ability to maintain your body in a set position, while dynamic balance describes the ability to remain in control of the body during changing circumstances, utilizing movements to maintain a base of support. Picture static balance as simply standing on one foot, while dynamic balance is surfing on a surf board. Both require proprioception, the ability to know where your body is in space, and strength. Focusing on improving proprioception and strength, particularly core strength, will improve your balance. This becomes increasingly important as we age, as falls due to lack of balance are a common cause of serious injury.

Proprioception Training

Proprioception requires the integration of input from our visual, sensory, and vestibular systems. Working on agility and coordination are great ways to improve your proprioceptive abilities. I encourage you to try a new class that pushes you slightly outside your comfort zone to do this. Great options for improving proprioception are Step and Core or Cardio Kick Boxing. The choreography and movements are fun and challenge your proprioception constantly. Secondly, and just as important is developing strength. As I have stated before, a well-rounded training program includes at least 2-3 days of a full-body strength training routine. Personal training and Targeted training ensure you are receiving this full-body strength programming in a safe and effective way. Pilates and Yoga are also great ways to improve core strength, and will also challenge your balance in other ways. Note, that while Bosu trainers and unstable platforms can be incorporated into a routine, training on these surfaces does not have to be a key part of improving your balance.

I encourage you all to mix up your routine this month.

Challenge your body in new and unexpected ways. Your balance will improve and your future self will thank you!

Do you have enough balance in your life? From cardio to strength to flexibility, nutrition, and everything in between – we’ve got you covered at 50/50. Come on in and speak to a specialist, to get your health and wellness back on track!

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Click here to read our article on The Joint by Joint Approach!

 

 

How does cardio affect your body?

How does cardio affect your body?

Written by Personal Training Director, Jay McWilliams

Step and Core Cardio Class on Mondays

Cardio month continues at 50/50 Fitness Nutrition, and I thought this would be a good time to get down to the nitty gritty of how cardiovascular exercise changes our bodies on a physiological level. I promise, it is actually really cool! We throw around the term cardio all the time: “spinning is great cardio!”, but what does this type of exercise actually do to are cardiovascular system, namely our heart and blood vessels? As we are all well aware, when we exercise our heart rate increases. The body is pumping more blood to our hard-working muscles, and this results in a greater volume of blood returning to our heart per minute. Over time, our heart adapts by enlarging the left ventricle to more efficiently pump this larger volume of blood back to our tissues. These adaptations make our heart more efficient, both while exercising and at rest. One of the results of these changes is a lower resting heart rate. Athletes can have resting heart rates 20-40 beats per minute slower than the average person.

Another cool adaptation of the cardiovascular system to exercise is the creation of new blood vessels. Yes, your body, in some cases, can develop new blood vessels in response to your fitness habits. This is one reason your blood pressure can be reduced by exercise. Along with these changes to your heart and blood vessels, your lungs respond by delivering up to 15 times more oxygen to your tissues during exercise. Just like your heart, over time your respiratory tract adapts to become more efficient. One measure of the efficiency of your lungs is VO2 max. As your fitness level increases, so will your VO2 max. This week, while you are rocking it out in spin class, hiking with your dog up a local mountain, or busting your butt in Tabata, I want you to take a moment to think about all these changes going on in your body. Doing cardio is so much more than burning calories, you are becoming a more efficient pumper of blood and breather of air. Way to go!

Do you have enough balance in your life? From cardio to strength to flexibility, nutrition, and everything in between – we’ve got you covered at 50/50. Come on in and speak to a specialist, to get your health and wellness back on track!  Click the image below to schedule your FREE health and wellness today!

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