Category Archives: running

10 K Training Guide

motivational-quotes-2191Congratulation, you have decided to bring it up a notch and run your first 10K. You might be wondering where you are going to start and what you need to do. Below is a fun, 8 week training plan that will help you prepare for a successful, stress free race. In anticipation of Preachtree Road Race, we will be offering an expanded edition of this training plan starting on May 1st. The expanded program will include 8 weeks of cross training workouts, stretching guide, and a meal plan.

10K or 6.2 miles is a fun distance to run. You have successfully graduated up from 5K and moved on to the next level. It is easier and takes less time to prepare for than a half marathon, with manageable training hours, and you can still go out dancing after the race.

Before you start training for your 10K race, you should get a full workup from your doctor to make sure that you are healthy enough for this kind of activity. You should have a reasonably good level of physical fitness and should have done some sort of running / walking in the past. If you are new to running, I would suggest starting at a 5K level. There are plenty of programs and apps available to train you for your very first 5K race.

How This Program Works:

Cross Training (CT): Simply put cross training can be anything that isn’t running. It can be swimming, cycling, walking, and weight training or any other form of aerobic activity. However, recent research has shown that runners benefit more from weight training and exercises that builds underactive core muscles than from any other form of cross training. My recommendation is combining weight training and other forms of cardio for a complete, well rounded workout.

For example, you could do 15 minutes of intervals on a stationary bike at the beginning of your workout, 20 minutes of weight training, 15 minutes of intervals on a stationary bike, and 5 minutes of stretching as your cross training.

For a list of cross training workouts, check back on May 1st for an expanded 10 K prep guide.

Running: This part is fairly simple – go run. It is preferable to train on the same surface as the race, so go outside and hit the pavement (or a trail if you are doing a trail run). If the weather doesn’t allow you to do so, set your treadmill incline to 1.5 -2.0 for your running workouts.

You should be able to run at a comfortable pace that allows you to carry on a conversation. If you find yourself unable to talk, or only talk in short phrases, you are running too fast.

Rest: Rest is extremely important. On rest days you should take it easy, give your muscles a chance to recover and rebuild.

Long Run: This is the longest run of the week. Typically a long run is done at a slow pace.

Walking: Walking is so underrated! In this 8 week training plan, I have a walk scheduled for Friday (the day before your long run). A walk will keep your muscles active with less stress. It is a great way to recuperate from the week of training before your long run. Feel free to walk at any point during your runs too! No one cares if you run the whole race (unless that is your goal). If you are tired and you know you can’t push through, walk!

Below is an 8 weeks training schedule. Feel free to modify it to fit your life, this is merely a guide to help you get started. If you would like a personalized, custom training guide, don’t hesitate to contact me. I would be honored to help you reach your 10 K training goals.

8 Week 10K Training Schedule:

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 CT 1 M CT 1 M Walk 2 M Rest
2 CT 1.5 M CT 1.5 M Walk 3 M Rest
3 CT 2 M CT 2 M Walk 4 M Rest
4 CT 2.5 M CT 2.5 M Walk 5 M Rest
5 CT 1.5 M CT 1.5 M Walk 3 M Rest
6 CT 3 M CT 3 M Walk 6 M Rest
7 CT 3.5 M CT 3.5 M Walk 7 M Rest
8 CT 3 M EZ CT Stretch Walk RACE Rest

 

Diet

Diet is extremely important when prepping for a race. You don’t want to get to the start line and realize that you are 10 pounds heavier than when you started your training. You also need to eat for your goals. That means eating strategically to optimize your performance.

Eating whole grains and complex carbohydrates will help you maintain steady energy in your workouts as well as on race day. Protein will help with recovery and building up muscles necessary for a successful run. Proper water intake is essential to keep your body functioning properly.

Going on a low calorie, low carb diet is not the best choice when running a 10 K is the goal. You need to be eating smarter, not less. Try swapping out processed foods for whole foods, decrease your fat intake, and make sure that every meal is well balanced. That means that you should eat a complete lean protein (such as chicken, fish, eggs, or lean red meat) and complex carbohydrates (whole grains, squash varieties, sweet potatoes, and cruciferous veggies) with every meal. The longer the distance, the higher amount of carbs you will need in your diet.

The jury is still out on the optimal amount of carbohydrates that a distance athlete needs to ingest to optimize their performance. For more details on nutrition, meal planning, and a sample menu check back on May 1st for our extended edition of the 10 K training plan.

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The Problem with BMI

What is BMI?

health-and-fitness-motivation-by-elisaBMI or Body Mass Index is a frequently used to measure or quantify an individual’s body shape based on a correlation between that person’s height and weight. BMI was first created in the 19th century by a Belgian sociologist and mathematician Adolphe Quetelet as a means to measure populations with a predominantly sedentary lifestyle.

Today, BMI is used by doctors and other healthcare professionals as a means to objectively discuss weight problems instead of using terms such as “overweight”, “obese”, or “underweight”. However, more and more physicians and other healthcare professionals forget the intended purpose of BMI as a generic way of classifying a population and instead use it as means for diagnosis.

Misusing BMI:

Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? And yet it is increasingly true. About a year ago I went to visit one of a few dozen physicians from the “old country” that operate in my area. I thought that since this particular doctor had experience dealing with people from my region I could save some time on filling in the gaps about some of the common ailments and just get to being treated for the problem that was bothering me. What I didn’t expect is to come into the office get weighed in and to be told that I am overweight and need to lose a lot of weight.

bmi-chartAt this point, allow me to give you some back story. I am a runner with a love of bodybuilding. I am fit, I eat right, I have a fairly low body fat percentage, and high muscle mass. So, when the doctor whom I never met before, looked at me (I was wearing a hoody and loose pants) and told me that I really needed to start watching my weight and change my diet, I couldn’t help but laugh.

He, of course, asked me why I was laughing. I asked him why he thought I had a bad diet and was overweight. In turn, he turned my attention to the BMI chart and said that based on my height and weight, I was clearly overweight and that could be due to the fact that I am not eating right and not exercising regularly. Honestly, at that point all I wanted to do is get up, take my hoody off, flex my “guns” and walk out, but I refrained.

I nicely told him the following:

On a case to case bases, BMI alone is not a good indicator or predictor of health or body composition. For example, a man who is 6’ 3” with a weight of 210 pounds is considered overweight according to the BMI chart. However, the chart does not specify if the body fat percentage (BF) of the man in question. Sure, if the man has a BF of 30% or more he is overweight. However if you look at a man who weighs in at 210 and stands at 6’ 3” with a BF of 15%, I guarantee you, you wouldn’t be calling him even remotely overweight.

What is the Lesson to be Learned Here?

1970767_10152283371584394_2044580024_nBMI is a good way to analyze large samples of predominantly sedentary, average population, not as a way to discuss weight issues on an individual case by case bases.

You will hear fitness professionals tell their clients to stop concentrating on “the number on the scale”. This is partially the reason why. That number means absolutely nothing unless you pair it with measurements, accurate BF% measurements, and, of course, whether or not the client is trading their “fat pants” for the “skinny jeans”.

So, if anyone tells you that you are overweight / obese and you respectfully disagree, ask them why they think that. If the answer is that the BMI chart told them so, tell them to read this article and walk away. You should expose yourself to such willful ignorance and negativity.

Fierce Workout: Cry on My Shoulder

Warm weather is right around the corner and that means sleeveless shirts and exposed shoulders and arms. Who wouldn’t want to have some nice, sexy definition? This weeks no gym required workout is all about shoulders. All you will need is a set of tension (resistance) bands.

The How To:

Tension (resistance) Band Shoulder Press:

Stand on the tension band with one of your feet until you feel appropriate (challenging) tension with your hands over your shoulders and  elbows bent. Holding the tension band handles, palms out, push the handles up until your arms are almost fully extended (keep your elbow soft), then bring your hands slowly to the starting position.

Tension (resistance) Band Internal Shoulder Rotation:

Wrap the tension band around a post, tree, bedpost, or anything else that is sturdy and will hold tension well at about your waist level. With the tension band at your side, grab the handle with the hand closest to the band. Keep your upper arm pressed tightly against your body with the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle. Pull the handle in towards your abdomen and slowly return it back to the starting position. Make sure that you are using appropriate tension for this exercise.

Tension (resistance) Band External Shoulder Rotation:

Wrap the tension band around a post, tree, bedpost, or anything else that is sturdy and will hold tension well at about your waist level. With the tension band at your side, grab the handle with the hand furthest away from the band. Keep your upper arm pressed tightly against your body with the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle. Pull the handle out across your body away from your abdomen and slowly return it back to the starting position. Make sure that you are using appropriate tension for this exercise.

Tension (resistance) Band Front Deltoid Raise:

Wrap the tension (resistance) band around a post, tree, bedpost, or anything else that is sturdy and will hold tension well. Hold the tension band handels with your arms in front of you, palms facing down. Pull the tension band up until your arms are parallel to the floor, then slowly return to the starting position. Remember to maintain appropriate, challenging tension on your resistance bands!

Tension (resistance) Band Lateral Deltoid Raise:

Stand on the tension band with your legs apart until you feel appropriate (challenging) tension with your arms straight down. Holding the tension band handles with your arms on either side of your body, palms in, pull the handles out and up until your arms are parallel to the floor. Slowly return to the starting position.

cry_on_my_shoulder

I’d love to her what you thought about this workout in the comments below or on our Facebook!

 

 

Easy Calorie Counting & Demystifying Weight Loss

Nutrition and Calories

l_a1d8c110-60e7-11e1-b1da-97b177c00001It is no secret that in order to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume. Cutting calories and “dieting” is more of an individual process than generic, preset approach. It is only through trial and error that you will be able to know what truly works for you and how many calories you need to consume in order to lose weight and gain lean muscle.

If you follow Fierce Miles, you have heard me say this time and time again—severe caloric restriction is not sustainable and extremely dangerous. Creating massive deficits will wreak havoc on your hormones and result in slowing down your metabolism even further which will lead to the inevitable weight gain.

Of course, there are general guidelines that can help you figure out your approximate optimal daily caloric intake. However, without good record keeping and a willingness to go through a certain period of trial and error, you will never be able to zero in on what truly works for you.

 

Fat Loss:       

The general formula to calculate daily caloric intake with the emphasis on fat loss is the following:

Focus on getting 11-16 calories per pound of your target body weight.

So, if your goal weight is 140 lbs:

11 cal X 140 lbs = 1540 calories (this is your absolute lowest daily intake)
16 cal X 140 lbs = 2240 calories (this is your highest daily intake)

Muscle Building:

The general formula to calculate daily caloric intake with the emphases on muscle building and weight gain is the following:

Focus on getting 17-25 calories per pound of target body weight.

So, if your goal weight is 200 lbs:

17 cal X 200 lbs = 3400 calories (lowest daily intake)
25 cal X 200 lbs = 5000 calories (highest daily intake)

Weight Maintenance:

It is generally ill-advised to maintain a caloric deficit for prolonged periods of time. Your body will eventually get use to the deficit making fat loss more difficult. In order to maintain a healthy metabolism and a lean, strong, healthy body, periods of maintenance are essential. During maintenance periods your body rests and rebuilds.

There is no set formula to calculate your maintenance calories. I suggest starting slowly increasing your caloric intake by 15-20 % every week until you stop losing weight. A large increase in the daily caloric intake may result in an increase in body fat. If that happens just reduce the weekly caloric increase.

Maintenance periods can be tricky and it usually takes time to find the proper increase percentage. Good record keeping is essential for the maintenance phase.

Counting Calories:

fitness-inspiration-954-eaf80244-sz480x480-animateToday, there are a number of tools that you can use to track your daily caloric intake. However, nothing beats good old math. Many food companies actually underestimate caloric values of their products on their labels due to the way they count calories in fiber. It has been a fitness myth for many years that calories from fiber do not count towards the total caloric value of a carbohydrate because fiber isn’t fully absorbed by the body. The key word here is fully. Some fiber does get absorbed and can’t be counted towards “free nutrients”. So, what does that mean?

That means that some food companies do not include the caloric value of fiber in the calorie total of the product. Although a difference of 10 calories here and there may not sound like much initially, an extra 100 calories a day can add up to 1 pound of body fat gain per month.

Here are the macro nutrient caloric values:

Protein = 4 cal/gram
Carbohydrates = 4 cal/gram
Fat = 9 cal/gram
Fiber = 4 cal/gram (fiber is a carbohydrate and there for is 4 calories per gram. When you take into account that only about ½ of the fiber gets absorbed by the body, it totals to roughly 2 calories per gram. When calculating total caloric value of fiber, divide by two).

Example of calculating calories based on food labels:

Let’s take Healthy Life High Fiber Bread, the label give the following information:

Calories: 70
Total Fat: 0.5 gram
Total Carb: 16 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 5 gram

Look at the total fiber number, divide by two. Subtract the number you are left with from the carbohydrate total and multiply by 4 to get the proper carbohydrate calories in the food you are looking at.

When you calculate it out:

0.5 x 9 = 4.5 (fat)
5 / 2 =2.5
16 – 2.5 = 13.5
13.5 x 4 = 54 (carbs)
5 x 4 = 20 (protein)
4.5+54+20= 78.5 (total calories)

So the total calorie count in the Healthy Life High Fiber Bread is 78.5.

What to do when a food doesn’t have a nutrition facts label:

There are a number of resources that you can turn to if you find yourself in a situation where nutrition facts are not readily available.

  • USDA National Nutrient Database
  • USDA Super Tracker (a more user friendly version of the Database)
  • CRON-O-METER (although this does not come in a convenient app form, it is accurate)

In most cases a simple Internet search will answer all of your macro nutrient questions. However, make sure that you rely on trustworthy sources for your nutrient information. Some of the largest fitness and calorie tracking applications that are available today grossly underestimate calorie information and are laden with human error.

Fierce Workout: Fierce Fit

This week is all about endurance and seeing what you are made of.  Do this workout as fast as possible, with proper form for 30 minutes. Make sure that you are keeping track of how many rounds you have completed, write the number down. I do this workout at least once a month to see if I can beat my score every time. Enjoy!

fiercefit

Fierce Workout: Step It Up

All of us, at one point or another, knew that we could use a little more speed, a touch more endurance, and a bit more mental strength to fight through those last miles, or even, those last few feet.

Recently, I remember crossing the finish line of a race so exhausted and drained that I honestly didn’t think that I would make it. Needless to say, I placed and PRed, but  reaching both of those goals simply means that now I have to beat them. This week I present to you a workout that is sure to help you step up your game just like it helps me to step up mine.

This one is all about endurance and mental strength. I usually do a short warmup, stretch, and begin this circuit with an easy, 1 mile run. During the workout, I do not stop. It burns, it hurts, but that just simply means that it is working! Remember, your brain will want to quit before your body. Train your mind to stay strong, fight the negative voice that says “can’t”! After the workout, I cool down with another 1 mile run and stretch.

Step-It-Up

If you are an advanced athlete and want to make this workout a bit harder, you can always raise the reps and add weight. Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Running into Fall: Fierce Guide to Atlanta Running Events

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Athletes Helping Athletes 5K

logo

If you are an animal lover and have a special affinity for beautiful Greyhouds, this event is for you. All the proceeds from this race go to the Southern Greyhound Adoption to help transport, vet, and upkeep retired Greyhound racers until they find their forever homes. For more information about this race visit Southern Greyhound Adoption website.

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Superheroes vs. Villains 5K

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Are you looking for a fun way to spend a Saturday? Come out and run this fun, family friendly, easy, and flat 5K. There will be lots of prizes, on course entertainment, incredible goodies, medals will be given to all finishers, and did I mention that you can drop your kids of for a fun, safe, and supervised play time while you run the race? The 5K takes place Required Fitness in Marietta. There will be plenty of parking. For more information visit Superheroes vs. Villains 5K website.

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

5th Annual Monster Dash

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5th Annual Monster Dash is a race for a great cause. All the proceeds from this race will benefit Grant Park Cooperative Preschool (GPCP) in Atlanta. The race is conveniently located in Grant Park on the corner of Boulevard and Confederate. Arrive early as parking might be a challenge. All pre-registered participants will receive a t-shirt. Race day registration starts 7:30 am, the race starts at 8:30 am. There will also be a 5$ discount offered on race day to all college students with student ID. For more information visit 5th Annual Monster Dash website.

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

Romp and Stomp 5K

Chomp-2013-Poster

Chomp and Stomp is a wonderful festival and chili cook-off that starts with an easy, flat 5k. This is the 11th year of the festival that is thrown every year to benefit the historic Atlanta neighborhood of Cabbagetown. As part of the race package all of the participants will receive a free admission to the chili cook-off, and an awesome long sleeve shirt. Arrive early as parking is challenging in this part of the city. Register now as the race sells out pretty quickly! For more information about the festival and the race visits their website.

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Atlanta Turkey Day 5K 1 Mile & Tot Trot

This is a great way to preemptively burn off some calories this Thanksgiving. This event is conveniently located in at The Forum on Peachtree Pkwy with plenty of parking. A great, long sleeve, performance t-shirt will be given to all 5k finishers. Participants can pick up their registration packet at The Forum on November 27th from 2pm-6pm and on November 28th from 6:30am- 8:00am. Participants are encouraged to arrive at 7am on race day morning. The race will begin at 8 am sharp. This event is a rain or shine event, so come prepared. For more information visit Atlanta Turkey Day 5K website.

 

Fierce Workout: Better, Faster, Stronger

In preparation for the fall running season, I have been doing a lot of track and hill drills to build speed and endurance. When I plan my workouts I keep one simple rule in mind: hard training leads to easy races. I train very hard, I constantly demand more of myself so when I get to race day I know that I can do anything! Below is one of my track workouts that I find to be very effective in building mental and physical endurance. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

better_faster_stronger

I would recommend that you take breaks as needed and make sure that your heart rate doesn’t drop too much during your rest periods. Always remember to hydrate properly before and after exercise. This particular workout can take a lot out of you especially if you push through it without breaks. Good luck, have fun, and be safe!

Fierce Workout: The Road Runner

It is no secret that the key to a successful, injury free running season starts with training all those areas that generally go neglected during the run because our body prefers to rely on larger muscle groups to do most of the work. This imbalance could lead to improper biomechanics and subsequently annoying injuries that derail our progress and potentially take a mental toll. Below is a workout that is designed to target muscle groups in both upper and lower body for proper balance.

The_Road_Runner

Depending on your ability, I would recommend doing this workout AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) for 35-40 with a proper warmup and cool down periods. If you are feeling especially great, workout on the track and add a sprint at the end of each round. Alternatively, you could also add weight to the lunges, squats, and step-ups. Be sure that you are ready before you modify your workout. After all, you are training to prevent running injury not to get hurt during your workout and end up missing all the running fun. Have fun, be safe, and let me know what you think!

Shin Splints: The Pain You Shouldn’t Run Through

132cf-552758_415770251831649_1198731197_nRest days. Some of us love them, some of us can’t wait until they are over and our normal week begins. I fall in the latter category. Imagine my disappointment when my doctor told me to stay away from running and other impact exercises until my shin splints heal. I was devastated. No, it doesn’t sound like the end of the world, but for a run addict it is worse than the end of the world. What do you mean I can’t run? Are you insane? Cross training? Do you want to kill me with a teaser of an exercise without proper release of all this beast mode, pint up energy? No, no, no, no, no! Let me at it! Let me run! But alas, I had to listen to the doctor. There I spent  9 weeks in physical therapy, doing my exercises, not running or jumping or doing anything else that would aggravate my aliment. If being away from the road wasn’t hard enough, the prescribed amount of running after the awful, long break was laughable. Start with a mile and build up by a mile every week. That is for a person who began her half marathon prep! I was going nuts! Running that one mile for the first week was equivalent of eating just one Hershey Kiss — frustrating. You just get a taste of how awesome this run is going to be and then you have to stop and go home, it wasn’t even a warm up! Regardless of my frustrations, I did as the doctor told me. I built up slowly, continued my therapy exercises, stretched, rolled, iced, took anti-inflammatory medication, invested in new shoes and insoles,  took my calcium and vitamin D and up until recently was enjoying a fairly pain free running existence. The key words here are “until recently”.  On Tuesday of this week I came home after my metabolic workout, took off my compression calf sleeves, and found a large, purple bruise set a few inches above my ankle. The first thought that went through my mind was: “Oh, no! Not a shin fracture!” The second was: “I have to get to the bottom of this! I can’t keep having my running goals derailed by my body.” I immediately went to go look for a highly rated podiatrist in my area and made an appointment for Monday afternoon.  In the mean time, I decided to do extensive research on my incredibly frustrating, shin splint condition.

 What are Shin Splints?

shinsplintsMedial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) is commonly known as “shin splints” and is  one of the most common lower leg injuries among athletes and dancers.  Shin Splints occur when the tibia and the surrounding muscles undergo repeated stress and do not have time to properly heal and recover from repeated muscle contraction and strain. MTSS usually presents as a dull, wide spread pain along the inside of the lower leg (middle-distal tibia) during impact exercise. In the early stages of MTSS the pain is worse at the beginning of exercise and subsides as the exercise progresses. I know some runners out there are saying to themselves right now: “pssht, I’m a runner! Pain is part of our existence especially if it dissipates as I warm up!” Don’t be fooled! Although the pain might temporarily subside, continued aggravation of an overuse injury can lead to serious consequences like stress fractures and mild to severe pain that does not subside with cessation of exercise at sometimes persists even at rest.

 

How did I get Shin Splints?

In short, I don’t know. MTSS is a very personalized injury that can be caused virtually by anything from improper form to your genetics.  In most cases MTSS is caused by improper form, an unusual increase in exercise or a sudden change in exercise surface (i.e. changing your running surface from trail to pavement). Inadequate nutrition can also be a contributing factor to MTSS especially in the cases where shin splints are a reoccurring injury. Bio-mechanical abnormalities such as: knee abnormalities, tibial torsion, ankle abnormalities, foot arch abnormalities, femoral anteversion can all put a person at risk for MTSS. Your doctor should perform a plethora of necessary tests to determine what the contributing factors of MTSS are in your case.

So, What Do I Do Now?

Regardless of the cause, shin splints are an overuse injury and should be treated with rest. Most doctors will recommend that you decrease or stop all impact exercises for a period of 2 to 8 weeks. Other treatment methods like anti inflammatory medication, ice, physical therapy, or dry needling might be recommended.

Is There a Cure for Shin Splints?

Yes, there is a cure. Rest and retraining. If your doctor and PT (physical therapist) have determined that you have bio-mechanical imbalances, you need to fix them as soon as possible.  For example: most runners seem to have weak glutes. If that is indeed the reason you seem to overuse your lower leg, then you need to train your glute and hip complex to offset the load and so on. The most successful way to prevent MTSS is to address the reasons why it happened in the first place. So, if your form and muscular development is the problem, you need to get a running coach or a trainer and make sure that you learn the proper way to run/ train in order to prevent further flare-ups.

But if I can’t Run I’ll Wither Away and Die!

I use to think that too. I use to hate every hour that went by when I couldn’t go out there and run. I whined, I cried, and I was a very unpleasant person to be around when I was not logging regular miles. However, I did find an alternative to running that was not as good as the real thing, but in a pinch…. The day I found pool running I became a nicer person. No, it is not the same as going out there and feeling like a total badass while leaving hill after hill in your rare view, but it is something. Pool running works the same muscles as regular running but without all the impact. So, if your doctor and PT tell you not to run,  ask them about pool running.

Shin Splints can be extremely annoying and inconvenient but only if you let them. Just like dealing with any other sports injury, you need to look on the bright side, take the time to develop in other areas that you might want to use in the future. For example, if you know that you might want to do a triathlon in the near future, pick up biking and swimming. If lifting weights is your secondary passion challenge yourself to beat your max. Under no circumstances remain unoccupied.  Forced inactivity can hurt more than the injury and lead to devastating results. So, if you are stuck with shin splints, concentrate on getting yourself better, do not skip PT sessions, do not push yourself to run through the pain, and most importantly get off the couch and go to the gym/ pool/ bike trail.