Friday, July 31, 2015

Galloway Tips: Dealing with the Heat

So today we have our latest round of tips from the Main Man Jeff Galloway and this one hits close to home folks. Dealing with the heat while running is a huge concern, especially if you live in place like Puerto Rico where it's hot and humid all the time. And I mean all. The. Time. Without further ado...

Dealing With the Heat

Training through the summer can not only be grueling, but down right dangerous.  Here are some tips to train safely and as comfortable as possible in the hot summer months.

Slow down by 30 sec/mile (20 sec/km) for every 5F temperature increase above 55-60F ( every 2.5C above 14C)

When the temperature is over 70F (21C) you may take a 5 minute “cold shower break” every 25-30 minutes to keep cool.

Try to complete your run before the sun rises above the horizon.

More frequent walk breaks during hot weather can lower body temperature increase.  If you used to run 3 minutes between walk breaks, run only 90 seconds (walk 30 seconds) at 70F (21C) and at 80F (26C) drop to 60 sec run/30 sec walk or 30/30

When you start to heat up more than normal, take a longer walk in a mall or indoor AC building

Pick shady courses on hot days.

Don’t wear a hat!  Pour water over your head

Have an indoor alternative—treadmill, etc

Run in the deep end of the pool, using a flotation belt

I should point out...

PS from The Fat Runner...

That performance decrease based on temperature is no joke. At both the Disney Marathon and Philadelphia Half Marathon, after doing all my training in Puerto Rico then traveling to the US in winter time, I felt like I had super powers. Running in the heat is VERY different.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Am I Absolutely Insane?

I need someone to confirm this. Please.

Like I don't have enough on my plate. Training for the Goofy Challenge, trying to make cross-training an ongoing part of my routine, becoming a Beachbody Coach, trying to adjust after a huge promotion at work and planning a cruise for next year, you could say I have plenty to worry about. But, when the flesh is weak and the will is strong there is always something else you can add to the stack.

My cousin just came back from this huge trip. She traveled to New Orleans for a volleyball tournament her daughter was participating in. Of course they did the whole tourist thing as well and had their share of Gumbo and Beignets. Then they drove from New Orleans to Orlando and visited some parks. Because really, if you are in Orlando, can you really not go visit a theme park of some sort? 

Anyway, of all the stuff they did, she simply could not shut up about their visit to Disney's Hollywood Studios. I found this weird at first. DHS is undergoing major changes and many attractions are closed. Not to mention that the Sorcerer's Hat is no more. Aside from Star Wars and Toy Story Mania, it could easily be skipped right? Well, no. Not if you are a Frozen fan...

You can see where I'm going with this.

Disney -ever the efficient revenue creator it has always been- has turned what could be a negative (empty, half-operating park) into a positive. Until September 7, 2015 DHS will be celebrating the Frozen Summer of Fun. Without going into the details, it will be everything Frozen. Frozen sing-along, Frozen Royal Welcome, Frozen parade, Olaf's Summer Cooldown, Frozen Fireworks... Frozen, Frozen, Frozen.

"All I kept thinking about was how much fun your girls would have there." she kept telling me over and over. You see, she has three girls as well but they are a bit older and while they had plenty of fun, they seemed to have just missed the Frozen bandwagon so it wasn't such a big deal for them. My girls on the other hand, have Frozen in the head. I think I have established that pretty soundly this past year.  In fact I could use a little Frozen break, really. But, as you parents out there already know, it is rarely about you.

Yeah, this whole Frozen fever is getting really old but my girls love it. Plans started to pop in my head. Ambitious plans. Expensive plans...

I needed someone to talk me out of the ledge. My Dad shows up right at that very moment. (serendipity?) I explain my situation and crazy ideas popping in my head. Surely cooler heads will prevail. He'll think it's crazy, talk some sense into me, end of story. Instead, he pushes me over the edge then jumps himself. Funny thing is my Mom (who also schemed in favor of this by the way) later told me "What the heck were you thinking asking him?" and she is right. I guess he just showed up at the wrong time and I just needed someone to talk to but I can see my mistake. I talked to him as my father and forgot that he is, for all intents and purposes, a GRANDFATHER. In fact we call him Iron Man sarcastically because when it comes to his granddaughters he breaks easily.

As luck would have it, my parents are gonna be staying at Disney's Pop Century Resort the last week of August because of a basketball tournament where my Dad will be coaching the Puerto Rico team. So, we are gonna fly that final weekend on Friday morning, spend Friday and Saturday there, then leave on Sunday. All this to immerse ourselves in Frozen Summer Fun. It's insane.

How did it come to this? There really is no justification but here was my line of reasoning, if you can call it that: We are not gonna be doing a full-on Disney Parks vacation anytime soon. Frozen Summer of Fun is a temporary thing. They did it last year and repeated it this year. Will they do it again? I don't know. As they ramp up work on the massive transformation that will turn DHS into Disney's Hollywood Adventure and permanent Frozen attractions (like the Frozen ride in the Norway pavilion) open, Frozen Summer of Fun could very well be axed. Even if it survives another year, we won't be able to go next year as we have another trip planned. If I wanted to take them to see this, it had to be now or never.

What sealed the deal for me though, was this: My girls will never be the age they are now again. Other films and fads will come and go but that sense of wonder, that sense of magic they have over Frozen and Disney and Princesses, that will eventually go away. Which also means you, as a parent get to enjoy that moment only once as well. Many people ask: "Why take a small child to Disney World? They probably won't remember it later." and they are probably right. But remember what I said at the beginning about parents and it rarely being about you? Well, this is the part that is about you. Getting to experience those thing through their eyes. You treasure those moments closely in your heart.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Challenge is in the Eye of the Beholder

5K's are hard.

I've been following the running adventures of Jenn over at Runs with Pugs for a while now. Incidentally, she is the inspiration for this post so thanks Jenn! Anyway, Jenn ran the Walt Disney World in January and immediately afterwards (Actually, I'm pretty sure it was well before that) made the decision to not run marathons and focus on other things; specifically work on her 5K times. Something she has accomplished successfully by the way. She has already managed to go sub- 30 minutes in training and is about to do so in a race pretty soon I'm sure. You go, girl!

Jenn's journey this year has gotten me thinking about how we set goals and how we, and others view those goals. While it is certainly different for everyone, when runners gather together (whether in person or online) and talk, we can sometimes make it seem like running a marathon is the ultimate goal for every runner. It almost feels like finishing a marathon is the core requirement before you can consider yourself a runner. If Runnerville is the place where all runners live, then the marathon is the gate you have to go through.

Of course, this is totally untrue and not only that, I have personally never heard any runner actually stating something like that (thank goodness, I know some have) but again, when you gather runners in a discussion, invariably some will be marathoners. They will begin talking about how rewarding it is and how challenging. They will talk about how it was probably their greatest running accomplishment (guilty!) and of course this creates unconscious peer pressure. You want to be one of the cool kids. You want to be a marathoner.

It also doesn't help that many people look at 5K's as a "first step" and therefore an easy one as you develop your ability to go farther. We make it look sometimes as if a 5K or even a 10K is just something you do on your way to running Half and Full Marathons. Again, this is totally untrue. I will argue in fact, that training for a 5K is one of the hardest things you can do.

Marathons are in essence, a test of patience. Especially to us slower folks. You train your body to keep moving for hours and hours until you reach the finish. In many ways, it's a grind which is probably why the Disney marathon is so popular: it actually gives you stuff to see and do while you grind your miles for hours and hours. You do something other than running with your time.

Time, on the other hand, is what you don't have on a 5K. It is a mad dash to the finish. It doesn't matter if you are a 20 minute finisher or an hour finisher. A time improvement at this distance requires a gargantuan effort, mainly because regardless of your fitness level, a 5K is a sprint. Sprinting is hard. Have you ever tried to sprint for 30 minutes? You have if you have run a 5K.

Exhibit A: Yours Truly. In the course of a year, I improved my Half Marathon time by a half hour. That is a HUGE PR. (and you will recall, a very memorable moment for me) On the other hand, my quest to run a sub-40 minute 5K was... well, difficult. I finally managed to pull it off in November 2013 and to this day, I have not been able to improve that time despite many efforts to do so. Sure, when I train I don't focus on that distance. I have spent the last 2 years working on Halves and Fulls but it goes to show you: A 5K PR is not something you wake up one morning and simply do. It takes a lot of hard work. Just as hard as training for a marathon. Don't think so? Ask anyone who trains for 5 and 10K's for the Olympics and such to see if it is any less hard.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Road to Goofy

So it officially begins... Sort of.

The actual training plan for the Goofy Challenge begins in September. But the enormity of the Challenge definitely warrants preparation. So I have worked out a long term training plan which includes the preparation of the preparation.

The current agenda is paying off big time. Cross-training in the form of P90X3 is starting to show it's benefits. The program is tough and it has been challenging to get used to the extra work besides running, but the purpose was to come out stronger out the other end and its working. Yesterday, I ran probably the best 4 miles I have run in a long while. I've been losing weight slow but steady, just the way I want it and I've been eating better than ever. Now, it's time to focus all that into the specific task that is the Goofy Challenge.

The main part of course, is the running. I've been running steadily about 3 times per week. Now I need to specify those runs into regular runs, workout runs and long runs. Regular runs are what are usually called easy runs but I refuse to call them that. Nothing easy about running long distances if you ask me. Fun? Of course! Good for you? Definitely! But easy? Not if you are doing it right.

Workout runs have a specific purpose. Tempo runs, speedwork, hills... they all fall in this category. One of my runs per week will be a workout run. I will be very careful in this area as this is what I believe got me into knee trouble the last time.

Long runs are, of course the bread and butter of the training plan. I will be adding distance very slowly. Starting early affords me this time to get my body used to it. Eventually I will add a second long run to start "simulating" the Goofy Challenge conditions so that will be 4 runs a week total with 2 long runs on consecutive days. Again, being very careful to avoid injury. I know it sounds like a lot but it really is alright. In fact, apart from the extra long run, its not that much different from my current schedule.

Then, there's racing. I feel weird even saying it but I've hardly raced this year. In fact I haven't raced since the Puerto Rico Half Marathon but that has been by design as I focus on cross-training and other things. However, racing will be an important gauge of where I'm at training-wise. There will be three races that I consider part of my training plan. First, the Popular Bank's 5K, which I have done every year since it was my first race ever. A PR here is, in my opinion, a step in the right direction. Then in September there will be the Lola Challenge Weekend. This one will be very important as it will involve running a 10K on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday. I call it the "Mini-Goofy". I can't think of a better way to make sure everything is going according to plan than this. Finally in November I will again run the Diva's Half Marathon. Yes, it will be done in a tutu. Can't really back away from that at this point. On both of these instances, I'm not looking for a PR of any kind. I just want to finish and feel good afterwards. If I can pull that off, it would be great. If I can run the Divas Half and wake up the next day without any major ill effects I would definitely hop on the plane to Florida in January with a whole lot of confidence.

In the cross-training department, I'm currently halfway through P90X3. I think I have made enough emphasis on how tough but rewarding this has been. As I reach the peak of run training and therefore, mileage, cross-training has to be brought down in intensity as I focus more on running. I was thinking of doing a second round of P90X3 back to back but after some thought, I think it would be better to try something that is lower impact. There is a great program called PiYo that is lower impact but still challenging that I'm very interested in. If I end up doing it, I'll tell you all about it when I do.

And that's pretty much it. The Road to Goofy in a nutshell. Nothing is written in stone though. I will be adjusting things as I go along and if you guys have any suggestions I'm all ears so bring it on!

Monday, June 22, 2015

An Important Announcement

I admit I've been struggling a little bit about how to approach this post and in some moments I actually thought about not writing it at all. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I think it's important I talk about it for a bit just so you know where I'm at and since it is part of this fitness journey then why not?

As you may have read here lately, there have been some pretty big changes going on as I ramp up my efforts on my way to the Goofy Challenge. Nutrition, diet, even the entire family approach to how we deal with health and everyday life has changed and so far it has been a very positive experience for which I'm very happy, especially having my wife on board working out and eating better. One of those changes is cross-training and P90X3 which has kicked my butt in a million, albeit good ways. The effects of that have also been very positive, even if I have been sore most of the time for the past 4 weeks or so. People at work and friends are starting to notice the changes.

Which is why, I decided to become a Beachbody Coach.

Beachbody is the parent company that makes P90X3, plus many other workout videos and they have a business opportunity where you can sell their products and earn a commission for it. Coaches also give support to the people who buy the products through them at no extra cost to keep them accountable and increasing their chances of finishing their program and stick to their workouts and nutrition, thus adding value. For me, the logic behind the decision to do this is: If people ask me what I'm doing and I tell them, and they end up buying a video or Shakeology because of it, is it a bad thing that I earn a commission? For something I was going to tell them anyway? Heck no!

This is not something I was planning to do but then people actually started asking "You look good. What are you doing?" so I felt I should look deeper into it and give it a try. After all, we have three girls to take care of and money doesn't grow on trees. Plus, I got running shoes to buy you know. I see bloggers promote and endorse products they believe in all the time and in my case, P90X3 has proven to be a game changer in my fitness journey so far. I feel this a logical next step.

However, I do want to make a few things clear and put your minds at ease.

What I won't be doing

The Fat Runner has been, and will always be about my running journey and sharing it so that maybe it can help others. That is not going to change. I will not be pushing products on this blog or trying to convince anyone to buy them. 

I will also not pester anyone I have met through this blog to buy them either so friends and readers, rest assured I have not turned into a greasy car salesman and you can continue reading knowing that this place will remain what it always has been.

What I will be doing

You will see banner ads that lead to my personal Beachbody coach page on this blog. There were ads there before so the only difference is, you will see more Beachbody ones than the others. Hopefully, it will prove to be more profitable than the 18 bucks Google says I have made so far with Ad Sense... (and I'm rounding up)

When I do a workout like P90X3, I will mention it like always so you know what I'm doing fitness-wise. It is part of my journey after all. It will not be to sell it to you. If I try a new workout from them, I will review it as I always have, both the bad and the good. Just like I do when I report on running gear, watches, my bike etc... I know that cross-training is an important topic for runners and we are always looking for both practical and functional options so my reviews will focus on how these workouts impact runners.

Plus, there are several videos I have my eye on that I would like to try out and as a coach, I get a discount so it's like... cool. Win-Win.

You will see on my social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...) mentions and invites for Challenge Groups. This is the support part I was talking about earlier. I will be setting up these groups for people who want support and accountability while doing the workouts. A haven if you will, so they can share their experience and motivate each other. I can tell you that the support I have received from friends online has been an integral part of why I have made running a really important part of my life so being able to pay that forward is something that interests me very much. So, when you see me mention it on social media you will have a head's up and will know what I'm talking about.

Of course, I will not turn you away if you ask me about it and I have always been here to help. If you have always wondered about these videos or Shakeology or anything else I'm always more than happy to answer your questions and help out in any way I can. This blog has put me in contact with some pretty awesome people and opportunities so I'm always more than happy to repay in kind.

So that is pretty much it. 

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Mystery of Running Shoes

Do any of you actually know when your running shoes are done? You know, that point when you can longer use them anymore for running?

Based on my experience, I'm kind of surprised no one has come up with something -anything, really- that lets us know for sure, that your shoes are done. That person would make a lot of money with that.

The thing is, that all the running shoes I have bought so far (OK, most of them) look just as good after I've used them as when I bought them. Right now, I have two identical pairs of Brooks Beasts: One new, one spent. They look the same and yet I can't run on the old ones without major knee pain.

I used to go by pain. When I ran and my joints, hips and back started to hurt I knew it was time for a new pair. Most (sane) people will tell you that when you reach that point you are past the time to change them but that's what I did. But that was before I started to have knee issues. Now, the knee is the first thing that starts to hurt. Way before anything else. What's worse, I can't yet identify if the knee is hurting because I need new shoes or simply because it hurts. (Yes, it will hurt from time to time)
Ahhh... fresh pair of Beasties.
The newest pair of Beasties I bought last week were long overdue apparently. When I talked about my running funk and about how running didn't feel right, it seems the shoes where part of the problem. On the first run with the new shoes, I ran the fastest 3 miles I've been able to run in a long while. Probably since the Puerto Rico Half Marathon in March. Why? No knee pain.

This is bad news. Not because of the knee perse. I'm learning to deal with that and I'm hoping it gets better as I lose more weight. It's because now I have to buy shoes more often. On average, I've heard running shoes can go 300-500 miles before they are spent. I was already below that, reaching 250 miles if I pushed hard enough. This last pair was done with 210 miles. Crap.

Such is life. You know, Brooks Running should sponsor more Fat Runners. That, or I also hear that there's a bunch of stuff in the human body that there's two of that you could survive without one of them. You know, like kidneys and lungs and stuff like that. Apparently there is a market for that...

How about you guys? How long do your running shoes last? How do you know it's time to change them? Any tricks you can show me?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Winds of Change

So a lot of stuff going on in The Fat Runner household...

We're cross-training ourselves into shape. Hopefully a nice shape. As far as shapes go, round doesn't seem to agree with my running. The biggest change by far though, has been nutritional. A complete 180 degree turn in that area and so far, our kitchen makeover has proven to be for the better. We have severely cut back on fast food and other processed stuff and the effects are already being felt.

Chicken Sausage Frittata
 My wife started feeling funny about two days after we started. I've been thinking of a word to describe what she was feeling and the best I could come up with was malaise. A general feeling of malaise. She felt weak, with no real desire to do much. I thought at first that it was the onset on a cold or something like that. Then, she told me "I feel like I need to eat candy or something sweet." Well, she didn't need to say anything else after that. She was going through withdrawal. A natural side effect of eating home cooked meals instead of processed is that you consume a lot less sugar. Sure enough, a couple of days later she was feeling great and I'm kind of surprised about how great actually. She is also doing P90X3 and she wakes up every morning charging to do it. Amazing how we get used to things and let them take over.

Then there's me. After a week of eating as clean as I have in a very long time, I was faced with the situation I was kind of dreading. I was on the road, no lunch from home and hungry. I had to eat something so after much pondering I settled for a Mexican food place and had some tacos. I went heavy on the salad and went for chicken instead of beef trying to at least minimize the damage. An hour later I was regretting that decision. I had to get to the bathroom. Bad. The tacos were really not agreeing with me or my stomach. I've never had any problems with eating fast food. Believe me. But after only a week of better nutrition my body just said "Hey! What happened here? You were throwing in the good stuff!"

Panko breaded Tilapia, asparagus and rice with beans
And it's not like we have been lacking flavor-wise. I love to cook so I took this opportunity to revamp our diet as a challenge. Chicken Marsala, Mexican Tostadas, Open-faced Bacon and Egg Sandwiches... it has all been made at home with healthy recipes and it has all been good. Of course, I've had to manage my time a little better to be able to cook. My wife is taking care of dinners (and subsequent lunch for me the next day) while I do breakfasts and try to keep it interesting on the weekends. Not only are we feeling great but the cut on fast food, as I mentioned in the beginning, has been severe, which is a good thing. Where we were doing 13-15 meals eating out, the average these past two weeks has been about 3-4. Not bad right?