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Archive for March, 2009

Finding the Right Cycle

March 18th, 2009 No comments

When it comes to cycling, there are those outdoors diehards who relish the feeling of wind (or rain) in their hair as they dodge potholes and pets and struggle up hills before coasting down the other side.

Then there are the cyclists who don't even own a bicycle and rarely if ever ride one surrounded by nature. The only breeze they feel is from an industrial fan, and any hills or obstacles are all in their heads. As strange as it sounds there are many diehards in this "group cycle" group too.

I'm choosing to sit on the fence for this one for one good reason. I really enjoy both. You might not have heard me saying that four months ago though, because there was a time when I thought indoor cycling was boring and uncomfortable. And since you can burn way more calories on a treadmill or cross trainer, I thought why waste good workout time.

Or that's what I thought before I discovered group cycling, or spinning as it's sometimes known, and fell in love with indoor cycling. To start with the bikes are different than those hefty plastic monsters found sandwiched between stair steppers and ellipticals in the cardio section.

Group cycling bikes are sleek and slim-framed, with smooth resistance and enough adjustments to fit almost any body size. Seats go up and down, back and forward, as do the handlebars. The only complaint I had in the beginning (and it's a frequent complaint from newbies like myself) was the pain in my butt and it was gone after just a few classes.

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My 10 Minute Treadmill Mile

March 11th, 2009 No comments

The verdict is in. My 10 minute mile is not just real, I can do it both in and out of the gym.

When I ran outside and took 10 minutes to complete 1 mile (or 1.5 km for those more familiar with the metric system), I was a little unsure of whether I could duplicate the results. I also wondered if I'd be able to do the same on a treadmill.

It's not that I've never spent time on a treadmil before, and yes I realize treadmill running is easier than road running (obviously, since the road isn't revolving under your feet), it's just that I tend to find the treadmill a bit boring. There's nowhere to go and most of the time you end up staring at a wall, the backs of other runners, or a television that you can't focus your eyes on without feeling nauseus. If you're really lucky, you get a window view.

So I sucked it up and cranked the volume on my MP3 player. After a warm-up I increased the speed to 6 MPH, the incline to 1 percent and settled in for the not-so-long haul. And I did it pretty comfotably for 11 minutes, which took me past the mile marker. The best part was I felt comfortable enough to continue jogging at a reduced speed for another 10 minutes.

So now I know firsthand that the wisdom I impart to others is true. Small increases can help you reach your fitness goals without burning out.

Next goal...I think I'll work up to a total running time of 30 minutes before addressing speed again.

The Old Run-Around

March 5th, 2009 No comments

It's that time of year again. Well, it is for those living in cold climates who choose to hibernate during the winter months anyways.

It's the time of year when semi-avid runners plot their return to the streets, tracks and trails. And let’s face it, at least a little plotting is necessary. If a runner's mileage has been scaled back for several months, or hasn't continued at all it’s going to take some work to get back into top running form. Even if the total amount of running stayed close to the same, and the road was simply replaced with a treadmill, there’s work to be done. We're not talking marathoners here, just simple folks who want to transition from walking to running, or add a few miles to their routine.

Since I’m one of those summer warriors whose ambition goes out the window when the temperature drops, I too realize I need a strategy if I’m going to be up and running this summer. I hate to admit it, but last year was supposed to be my “summer of running” where I'd finally break the 10 minute mark and transform my usual run/walk intervals into one fluid running workout. The biggest problem last year…I started too late. When I finally began making decent progress the fun races were over and the running group numbers had tapered off. Besides, in the middle of the summer it’s much too hot to run unless you do it before the sun rises. Ya I know, lame excuse.

To make things simple on myself, and the rest of you, I’ve devised a checklist of things to do so we can both meet our running goals this summer. Here are the first three tips:

1. Start now - As soon as the snow is off the sidewalks, get your butt off the couch and strap on a pair of running shoes.

2. Start slowly - This may seem like bad advice to the over-achievers out there but it’s important for those who haven’t had much running success in the past. As an example of how it works, you would go for a 29 minute walk and add one minute of easy jogging. The next time out, add another 30 seconds or a minute of jogging. When you feel ready add a few more minute-long jogs during your walk. Your joints will be able to gradually prepare themselves to deal with the stress of running and your lungs will thank you too. As a general rule, don’t increase the time or intensity of your run more than 10 percent a week. And keep track of your progress.

3. Map it out - If time isn’t the most important factor, you need to find out how far you’re going. Gmaps Pedometer is a great way to do this. You can increase the distance you're running at each workout and see yourself get that much closer to your goal.

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