Running Training Program - Week 9

All of you who have made it up to this point after completing week 8 of the running training program are doing great! Keep up that momentum and you will be getting the results of a leaner body, faster times, and a more fit you. I hope that last week's tempo run felt controlled but like a hard effort; you should have been able to learn a bit about pacing yourself from that workout too. If you felt like you were fading at the end you most likely were a bit overzealous in the beginning; conversely if you think you may have had a bit too much energy left at the end you could try to go out a bit harder next time. It's all a process and you will get more familiar and in tune with your body with keep at it.

This week we are going to actually do a little time trial sort of workout so that you can see what kind of shape you are in now and then we will do the same fitness test in a few weeks to mark your improvement.
It's always motivating to see in black and white that you've progressed and the clock is your proof. The time trial can be done out at a track for the best of accuracy and that's recommended; but if you don't have access to one you can measure out the distance on the roads. (You can use your car to help you there.) The time trial is going to be like a race, and you can even enlist a fit buddy to help push you if you'd like so it will be all out by the end.

Monday: Weight routine with five minute cardio warm-up
Tuesday: Combined interval workout for total of 40-55 minutes (with a warm-up and cool-down you will do 4 to 5 sets of three minutes hard, two minutes easy, 1 minute hard, two minutes easy)
Wednesday: Easy run or cross train for 40-55 minutes
Thursday: Weight routine with five minute cardio warm-up
Friday: 2 mile time trial (do a warm-up that includes some strides before you start, do 8 laps around a track, and then finish with a cool-down for a total of 35-45 minutes)
Saturday: Easy run for 40-55 minutes; be sure to go easy to allow yourself to recover from the time trial!
Sunday: Long run 45-75 minutes

Finally, you should still be focusing on getting that perfect form for at least the last 10 minutes of each run. Also do a form check periodically to catch yourself if you are lapsing into a bad habit. Keep it up you guys, and it is important to write down your finishing time for the time trial in your running logs so the next time you do it you will have a goal to try to beat!

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Top 5 Training Mistakes and How to Avoid Making Them
Training, and especially if you are doing it with the ultimate goal of competing, is something that is quite unique to every individual. That's why anyone you talk to will swear by one technique, coaches have different philosophies, and there are a never ending supply of resource books and tell all's explaining why 'their method' is the best one. The truth is that not everything works the same for each person; that is evident in that an entire team or group could be doing the exact same workouts but there are always going to be those that are 'better.' This isn't only due to the training method, as genetics and other factors most definitely play a role, but there is a truth in stating that what works for one person may not for another.

However, while there are an array of various fitness programs and routines there is still a common line of thought on the general way to improve and stay headed towards your goals. Such as you have to continually be pushing yourself with faster times or heavier weights, you need to address both anaerobic and aerobic fitness capacities, and you do need adequate amounts of rest for your body to restore itself and come back stronger. That last one is up for perhaps one of the biggest points of controversy with some people professing the less is more approach and others that would never cut back unless something short of their entire body being in a cast occurred. But even those with the latter mentality will usually have at least days that are easier preceding a strenuous workout.

When it comes to the top fitness and workout mistakes that people make, here are five of them and ways you can avoid them.

1) Blending your hard and easy days.
This happens when you aren't taking your easy days at a pace that is in line with what the purpose of the workout or run is. For long distance running training after a tough workout you'll do an easy run that is still going to maintain your aerobic fitness and keep your mileage up but at the same time you are running at an effort that isn't nearly as taxing as the workouts are so that you are able to recover. What lots of runners fall victim to, I myself have and even professionals sometimes still do too, is that they go too hard on the easy days and then come their workout days they aren't as sharp as they want to be. If you're feel flat on your hard days it could be because you just need to back off on the easy days. If you are blending your easy and hard days there eventually becomes a point where there is not enough distinction between the two and you can't really 'pound out' those tough workouts that are best going to improve your fitness level and ultimately performance.

2) Skimping on that warm-up. Some people either don't like to do a full warm-up because they say they don't have time, others think it will only tire them out, and still other are just too lazy. But whatever the reason is not getting in a proper warm-up is going to impede your performance both in workouts and races. The body works best when it gradually gets into the motion of things and if you jump into a workout with cold muscles you are not only going to be setting yourself up for an injury but you won't be able to hit as fast of times if you had warmed-up. You want to do between 10 and 15 minutes of easy running to get loose and into the groove of things and then do some drills and strides that are going to focus on a faster turn over. You then will be able to go into your workout ready to go; the faster paces will feel easier and in turn your splits and times will be better.

3) Skipping the cool down. So you've done the whole warm-up thing and after the workout you're so beat that you don't feel like taking another step. Even if you are only plodding along on the cool down you need to do it because after an intense effort you've built up plenty of lactic acid in your muscles and if you don't flush that out it will sit there and act like the poison that it is. You'll wake up tomorrow not only with muscles that are sore, tight, and screaming at you but you'll also be much more sluggish and tired in your run the next day. It may seem a bit contrary that doing more after a hard workout will make the next day feel easier and better for you, but it's the truth. To flush out all that lactic acid you have to do at least 10 minutes of easy running after your tough workout, even if it is super slow.

4) Being overly competitive.
Okay, so that may sound like something that isn't possible, but anyone who's been around a team or even just that one person who always has to one up everybody else, can attest to the fact that once that mentality starts it's like a loose cannon. It begins with someone always having to one step you and be just a bit ahead and it ends with everyone being out for blood each time they lace up their shoes and go for a run. A healthy amount of competitive energy is necessary to improve and should be a part of the training atmosphere, but when it turns from the mind set of doing what's best for the overall improvement of the group and instead becomes a vicious platform to prove who is the champion of the world that's where the trouble comes in. Usually this will lead to blending those hard and easy days because you won't be taking those easy days at the right pace for you to recover and will be instead trying to race those days along with the workout ones. And it hampers workouts because not all workouts are supposed to be all out race like efforts; while workouts are geared towards preparing you for a race they aren't supposed to be a that same level. The best athletes will work incredibly hard and push themselves plenty but come race day they always rise a bit to the occasion and have one more gear. But if you are racing each of your workouts like that you can only continue to do so for so long before you begin to be overly tired and over worked and your times will soon slow down. It can be tricky to avoid falling into this pattern and group dynamics play the biggest role; it can sometimes mean doing your easy runs on your own so you aren't tempted to go too fast and doing your very best to stick to the intended workout times and paces that you set out to do regardless of what transpires on the track. If you notice this type of racing staring it's best to put an end to it early whether that means talking amongst yourselves or your coach or potentially reevaluating the members of the group.

5) Not refueling or rehydrating afterwards. There is a key window of time after you finish a workout where it is of utmost important to get some food and liquids into your system. That time frame is 30 minutes and it closes rather quickly. The difference between 30 minutes and an hour after may not seem like a big deal but to your body and its ability to recover it is insurmountable. If you don't get in a combination of complex carbohydrates and protein along with a drink containing electrolytes right after you finish you will be only doing yourself a huge disservice. Refueling will speed along the recovery process and there have been numerous studies that prove your endurance and strength will vastly outpace those who skipped doing so; the numbers vary from anything between 45% to 70% but either way it is a big gap.

So if you want to make the very most out of your training program, no matter what specific method it is, make sure you don't fall into one of these workout traps.

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Avoid Achilles injury by calf strengthening moves

One of the top contenders for any point of an injury is a tendon or ligament. Because the tissues or tendons and ligaments lack an abundant blood supply they are slower to heal than a muscle injury and tricky to treat. They are also commonly chronic injuries that once they creep up can nag you on and off for many years. For those that are regular and avid exercisers these can be distressing injuries as they can leave you side lined for quite some time. A common tendon to become inflamed and then limit your exercising ability is the Achilles tendon.

The Achilles tendon is located at the back of your lower leg just above the heel and below the calf. It attaches your heel to your calf muscle and a great way to avoid an Achilles injury is through some calf strengthening moves. By building up the muscles of your calf and by targeting these muscles at different angles you can reduce your chances of being plagued with Achilles pain. This is a short exercise routine that can be done three times a week; start by doing one set of ten for each exercise and then build your way up to two or three sets.

* Forward calf raise.
Standing on a raised platform such as a stair you will rest the ball of your foot on the step and let your heel hand off the back of it. You will then begin by lowering yourself down until your heels are below your toes and you feel a stretch in your calf. Slowly raise yourself up onto your tip toes and then back down to the starting position. This will be one repetition.
* Inward calf raise. Just as before you will stand on the stair but this time you will point both of your feet inwards so your toes are angled towards each other. Continue to then lower and raise yourself on the stair.
* Outward calf raise. This time you will point your toes away from each other and your heels will be facing each other. Lower and raise yourself on the stair.

This will target your calves by three angles and by strengthening them this way you can better prepare them for any awkward movements, such as if you were running and slipped on a patch of ice, and then reduce the chances that this would result in an injury.

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Running Training Program - Week 8

Way to go for all of you who finished out Week 7 of the running training program. By now you should be getting better at gauging your paces for the workouts and noticing that you are feeling more fluid and faster. Soon you'll be burning up the track and roads, right?! From last week you should be focusing on one aspect of your form that needs improvement. We are going to continue doing that this week, except now you will be extra diligent the last ten minutes of each run.

The goal of this week is to continue to improve your running form and efficiency and develop your aerobic capacity with a tempo run. This will be a continuous, sustained effort that is just below that which you would be running in a race. You want to keep your heart rate around 80% of your maximum and you should feel like you are going hard but still able to maintain your form. It is not all out, but getting near that point. The most successful tempo runs will work on a negative split idea in that you will gradually be getting faster as you go along so that by the end you are at your fastest pace instead of fading from going out too fast. This is hard to do, even pros make the mistake of getting overly zealous at the start and dying by the end.

Monday: Weight routine with a five minute cardio warm-up
Tuesday: Short interval workout for a total of 35-50 minutes (within your run do 8 hard sprints for 30 seconds each; make sure you get at least 2 minutes recovery jog between sprints)
Wednesday: Easy run or cross train for 40-55 minutes
Thursday: Weight routine with a five minute cardio warm-up
Friday: Tempo run workout for total of 35-50 minutes (with a warm-up and cool-down you should do a 'comfortably hard' effort for 20 minutes)
Saturday: Easy run for 40-55 minutes
Sunday: Long run 40-70 minutes easy

Keep notes on how you feel during and after your runs in your training log and be sure to refuel and rehydrate within 30 minutes of completing each workout. This will make sure you recover properly, build muscle, and come back stronger next time!

Week 9

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The best way to lose weight through running

Q: What is the best way to lose weight through running?

A: While competitive athletes may not be using their training and running programs with the purpose to lose weight in mind, it is no secret that running vast amount of miles at high intensities are going to burn some serious calories. If you were to look at any of the top, or any runners who train regularly for that matter, you would see that for the most part they all run on the lean side. Running is perhaps the best cardio activity to burn the most calories per minute of exercise; it uses nearly every muscle in the body and as you are constantly working against gravity you are going to be using more energy than say if you were on a bike.

That being said, many people are tempted to sign up for a marathon because in training for one they believe they will best be able to lose weight.
While you probably will naturally be losing weight in doing this kind of training, logging more miles does in essence mean burning more calories, this is sometimes negated because in increasing your miles to an amount necessary for marathon training you will then be much hungrier. After all of those long runs your body will be depleted, you should refuel, but sometimes your level of hunger will in fact cause you to out eat the number of calories you expended. Serious marathon runners have been known to eat thousands of calories a day, they have to in order to sustain their work load, and their goal is not to lose weight at all. If they were to create a caloric deficit they wouldn't have the energy required to get in their next run.

That is why it is sometime difficult to lose weight by simply putting in tons and tons of miles for the sake of calorie burning alone; because you have to eat enough to have enough energy to log all of those miles. What some people then may have more success with is instead of thinking more, more, more, is to think about upping the intensity and quality of your runs.

This would include interval training which alone burns more calories in the same amount of time than a steady run because you are doing bouts of almost all out efforts. This kind of training also revs up your metabolism for hours afterwords and you will burn more calories throughout the rest of the day. What is interesting with high intensity workouts is while it does boost your metabolism, for whatever reason people aren't as likely to be as hungry after should they have done a long run instead. In fact it is far more common for people to lose their appetite after doing harder intervals. This doesn't mean that you should forgo eating after one such workout; quite the opposite as you should force yourself to eat a reasonable amount of something containing protein and complex carbohydrates in order to recover from the workout and come back stronger.

So if your main purpose for running is to lose weight, (although hopefully you have a true passion for it and your underlying motivation is for all of the overall health benefits regular exercise brings) you may want to rethink doing a marathon just for the sake of logging in all those miles. You could wind up losing the weight faster should you set your goals towards quality over quantity.

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Worst workout clothing faux pas

It sometimes amazes me what people will where when they are doing their workout programs. Today in the gym I saw a man wearing moccasin slippers; this has been one of the odder fitness shoe selections I've seen in quite a while but by no means the weirdest. When I was working in a gym I spotted a woman lifting weights in open toed high joke. Not only does this look ridiculous, as there really is no need to make such a fashion statement pumping iron, but it is dangerous for a couple of reasons. First, I'll guarantee she isn't able to do all of her moves with the proper form and she is setting herself up for an injury, and secondly if she were to drop one of these dumbbells on her foot she is looking at a nice set of broken toes.

There are other poor fitness clothes choices for when you are working out; I've seen people running in jeans and a belt, I don't even want to think about that kind of chaffing. No doubt that will burn a bit when they go to later take a shower. And while I give them props for getting out there and doing their workouts, should they be wearing the right kind of gym clothing they would not only be more comfortable but their workouts would improve too.

Take for instance someone wearing jeans, they aren't going to be able to get a full range of motion and their strides will be shorter than they should. Instead were they to wear a pair of running shorts they would improve their efficiency, in turn have better form, and thus be able to run faster. Proper fitness clothes could make the difference between cutting a workout short too; if you are wearing hot jeans and cotton shirts that are absorbing and retaining all of your sweat and body heat you could be left stiflingly hot after only a few moments. With clothes that instead breathe and that are made out of a moisture wicking material you could go longer without being left overheating and with huge pit stains.

When it comes to shoes, while I love my Converse they aren't for running.
They lack the necessary support that your foot needs. This is especially true if you overpronate and you will soon find yourself with an injury, whether it be knee pain, shin splints, Achilles problems, plantar fasciitis, or another form of tendonitis.

You can still infuse a little fashion and personal flair in your workout clothes; there are plenty of lines that are geared towards just that. Still, while you are working up a sweat your main focus should be at doing your best to then get the very most out of each workout.

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Running Training Program - Week 7

Way to go for all of you who have finished Week 6 of the running training program and are back for more! The last week we began to add in training elements that were outside of strictly running with weight lifting being the first. Another very important aspect to focus on is proper running form. This will not only make you more efficient and then faster but help prevent injuries. The less excess energy you waste on poor running habits, like crossing your arms in front of your chest or over striding, the easier it will feel to increase the pace.

The goal for this week is to pick one aspect of your running form that needs to be improved and focus on that single thing for the last five minutes of every run. That means if you need to adjust your stride length, for each of those five minutes do a 10 second stride count and try to hit 30. Test yourself and see how close you can get. You only want to tack one thing at a time, and then slowly integrate that change to not only make it easier (you don't want to be thinking of a zillion things you need to fix) but it will also prevent you from getting hurt. As you shift your form you will be noticing different muscles working and you don't want to overload them all at once and wind up unable to get out the door next time.

Monday: Strength training with five minute warm-up (think of form!)
Tuesday: Shorter interval workout for 35-50 minutes (with a warm-up and cool-down have the middle 20 minutes alternate between one minutes hard and one minute easy)
Wednesday: Easy run for 40-55 minutes
Thursday: Strength training with five minute warm-up (think of form!)
Friday: Longer interval workout for 35-50 minutes (with a warm-up and cool-down have the middle include three to four sets of 3 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy, one minute hard, 2 minutes easy)
Saturday: Easy run or cross train for 40-55 minutes
Sunday: Long run 40-70 minutes easy

Keep it up you guys; you should be feeling stronger in those workouts and be sure that the days of your easy days you allow yourself to recover. Don't go too fast or hard or you will be left overly fatigued on the more important workout days.

Week 8

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Get that perfect running form - Tips to be more efficient

We've all seen them, the hunched over, the gigantic striders, their arms flailing akimbo; yes when it comes to different running forms and styles it seems we are all as unique as our appearances. Yet there is a 'model' running form that has been shown to be most efficient and if you were to look at the best runners in the world there you would find that many of them do resemble their competitors. This is because their techniques have proven to be the best to get them the fastest times possible; they don't waste any excess energy on unnecessary movements and everything is streamlined and moving forward.

While not everyone will be able to run as fast as the Olympic caliber runners, we can take steps to at least mimic their proper running form. This includes holding your arms at a 90 angle bent at the elbow and then moving on the same plane frontwards and back. You shouldn't be crossing your arms in front of your chest, having them held up so close to your chest that you don't get much movement at all, and you don't want then to be down swinging by your thighs. Concentrate on lifting them up to be about even with your beast bone in front and then when they swing back think of hitting about where you would have a pocket on your shorts.

Proper running form is also going to mean that you are standing up tall to not only allow for the most lung capacity but you will also be slightly tilted forward to help propel you that way. You want to think about being erect and then slightly tipping your pelvis inward so that your butt isn't sticking way out in back. Your legs then should work in a sort of cycle motion with your knees lifting up and then back to then push off. You want your foot to ideally land directly below you for the maximum power for each push off. Everyone will have a different stride length, but you want to aim to get as close to 180 strides per minute to be the most efficient; this works out to about 30 strides each 10 seconds. (One stride is a full complete cycle on a single leg, not each step that you take.) Count your strides and try to adapt accordingly; if you are overstriding and leaping while you run you will be wasting a lot of effort as you will need to claw forward before your foot even pushes off. Similarly too many short strides aren't going to give you the most power for each lift off.

Finally, one thing you need to keep in mind for the perfect running form throughout is to RELAX. Don't clench your jaw because this will likely cause you to tense up and raise your shoulders. Relax your shoulders and let your arms swing freely. If you find this happening take a deep breath, shake out your arms, and return to the correctly position. Adapting your running form is tricky and takes a lot of time because at first the changes won't seem natural. But if you target one specific thing to focus on in your runs, master that aspect, and then move onto the next eventually you will be looking more and more like those professional runners who make it seem almost effortless. But don't be fooled, they are working just as hard as you!

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Running Training Program - Week 6

Thanks for coming back for more and great job for finishing week 5 of the running training program. Hopefully the speed workout and longer interval session went well and that you are learning to gauge your paces. An important thing to remember is that as with any kind of sport or regular workout routine you always want to be stressing different energy systems and then challenge yourself to improve. Along with that there are many things you can incorporate into your program that while they may not be running they will translate over into faster times and better performances. This includes weight training, dynamic drills, stretching, plyometics, flexibility drills, form work, and core work. That may seem like a lot to digest, but those are just some examples of the many different training techniques that you could sprinkle in throughout your training weeks and months. Yet at the same time you don't want to add in everything all at once, and there's no need to necessarily add in all of those things and it depends on your own unique goals that you can then pick and choose what is most important and what you have time for.

The goal of this week is to integrate a weight lifting routine that will hit every major muscle group in your body.
This will increase overall fitness, get you leaner and meaner, but in terms of running it will give you more power. You will want to do this routine twice this week and eventually we will increase that to three times a week. This week will still have a speed workout day and another day geared towards building your endurance.

Strength training routine with a five minute cardio warm-up
Tuesday: Speed workout for a total of 35-50 minutes (start with a warm-up and then you will do sets of one minutes hard, one minute easy, 30 seconds hard, one minute easy; you will do a total of three to four sets and then finish the run as a cool-down)
Wednesday: Easy run for 35-50 minutes
Thursday: Strength training routine with five minute cardio warm-up
Friday: Easy run or cross-train for 35-50 minutes
Saturday: Longer workout for a total of 35-50 minutes (start with a warm-up and then between three and four sets of 5 minutes hard followed by three minutes recovery jog; finish the run as a cool-down)
Sunday: Long run for 40-70 minutes (go very easy)

We have changed the amount of times for the intervals to get you used to going at different paces. For the speed session really work on blasting the shorter 30 second intervals and on the longer day aim to work on being able to still start out at a level 8 in terms of effort (from one to ten) but as you progress try to pick up the pace so you finish faster than you started. Finally, we will keep the length of the long run the same this week and be sure to take it easy so that you recover from the hard workout the day before. Get after it and be sure to check back for more updates throughout the week!

Week 7

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Great weight training program to tone up, get fit, and improve performance

While I myself am much happier to be logging those miles or doing cardio rather than lifting weights, I know that in neglecting strength training I'll be missing out on all of the benefits that it brings. There is of course the fact that weight lifting is the best way to build muscle mass which will in turn give you the tone and definition that you want but also boost your metabolism because a pound of muscle burns many more calories than a pound of fat. What's more is a gym weight lifting session is going to elevate your metabolism even higher for the hours after your workout in the after burn effect; you could end up burning more calories throughout the day after a bout in the gym than a run outside. But outside of that, regular strength training will improve your performance in other areas whether you be a long distance runner, cyclist, high jumper, basketball player, or football player.

By building up that core strength and muscle mass you will be more powerful and strong as well as less likely to wind up with an injury.
Weak muscles are prime contenders for a strain or pull and you can avert time off with regular weight lifting routines. You don't need to go into the gym and throw around huge amounts of weight, although you can if you are looking to specifically bulk up and build mass, but if you are looking to lean out and get toned up you can do lower amounts of weight with a higher number of repetitions.

For those taking part in the running training program series, this upcoming week we will begin to implement a specific weight lifting training program a few times a week. This will improve your overall fitness level and eventually make you a stronger runner. Yet if you aren't doing the running series, you can still take advantage of a great strength program that will hit all of the major muscle groups. You can begin with with doing one or two sets of fifteen repetitions for each exercise and then build yourself up to doing a third set. You should aim to incorporate weights into two or three days that you head to the gym. Finally, you want to do the series as a circuit meaning that you will do one exercise immediately followed by the next in the group without resting and then complete all of your sets; then with limited rest move to the next group. This will keep your heart rate up and you will burn more calories throughout as well.

Group 1:
* Leg Press machine or standing squats while holding weights
* Hamstring curls (on machine or do leg lifts while laying down on your stomach)
* Single leg lunge (be sure to do 15 reps for each leg and to make it harder you can hold weights)

Group 2:
* Lateral pull-downs
* Dumbbell press on bench
* Calf raises

Group 3:
* Bicep curls
* Tricep kick backs
* Side raises with weight (standing up and holding weights in both hands raise your arms up at your sides until they are at shoulder level and then back down)

Group 4:
* Seated Russian Twist with weight (sitting on the edge of a bench, lean back and raise your legs up bending at the knee so you are balancing on your tail bone; holding a weight, contract your abs and alternate pivoting your torso to the right and left side while keeping your lower body stationary)
* Crunches (do them either on the floor or on a ball)
* Back raises (lying down on your stomach, lift your upper body off of the ground and then lowering back down)

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Plastic surgery and the obsession for perfection
I thought with all of the recent attention being drawn to certain celebrities, or those who claim to be celebrities, it was worth addressing the whole plastic surgery issue. I myself have seen far too many Dr. 90210 episodes to venture going under the knife, but apparently that is becoming more and more of a rarity. I'm not saying that I think I'm better than anyone who has had plastic surgery, but I would be lying if I didn't point out that depending on just what the said surgery was I may think of them in a different light.

There are countless tales of the model looking to enhance her butt and then dying on the table. Others undergoing risky augmentations in countries with more lax medical licensing laws who either wind up with botched jobs or never wake up at all. I feel it is sad that there are those willing to die for vanity. Yet it isn't always necessarily vanity, but insecurity that is the underlying issue. A lot of talk has steamed back to Heidi Montag of the infamous Speidi relation, and I would say there are definite insecurity issues there. No one is perfect, and to chase that ideal is something common with many people afflicted with one addiction or another other problem. Obsession with anything can become all consuming; it is the case with eating disorders, substance abuse, over eating, addiction to these surgeries, and even addiction to exercise.

Exercise is something completely healthy and should be incorporated into everyday life, but as with anything it can be taken to the extreme. Working out to be healthy and overall fit and fierce is one thing, but punishing yourself and doing it solely to lose weight or look a certain way isn't going to make it enjoyable and in the end you may not ever wind up with the results you crave. There are always 'trouble spots' that you will be critical of yourself over and in the end are you going to be unhappy in your overall life if you don't look like the 'ideal' you have set up in your own mind? Workout because of the way it makes you feel inside and that joy it brings after having accomplished something you didn't think you could have ever done. There are few times that I am more proud of than when I've finished a race or particularly daunting workout and have had a personal best time or surpassed my own expectations.

Especially with the growing number of surgeries that are geared to chiseling out that Adonis body that you don't want to work for at the gym or stick to a balanced diet for, I think it's sad people are looking for the easy way out. Skipping the gym and excising solely on KFC and Dunkin' Donuts but getting the fat sucked out of their body in an attempt to remedy the situation isn't the way to go.

Of course there are people who have every reason to go under the knife; they have lost so much weight in order to be healthy they need the subsequent extra skin removed, children born with deformities, you're met with a horrendous accident and your face is damaged, and there are far less extreme cases in between. But I think surgery should be a kind of last resort because you need to ask yourself if it really will make you happy. If so, then go forward, but if you are chasing an ideal that may never be achieved there is something else that is bothering you.

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How that treadmill stacks up compared to runs outside

I'm always surprised just how much of a difference running outside is versus on the treadmill. The standard rule of thumb is that in order to more accurately mimic the outside environment on the treadmill, factoring in the amount of air resistance you'd meet, you should put the treadmill at a grade o 1.5%. Yet it still seems to me that even with this incline running on the treadmill is easier; I find myself able to go at a faster pace with less of an effort when compared to outdoors.

This could be attributed to a few reasons: 1- on a treadmill you're always going to be landing in exactly the same position. There are no variances in terrain, your footfalls are pretty much repetitions of the last because you aren't stepping on a rock, curb, or any other number of things. 2- you are always at the same cadence that you program into the treadmill. Outside you will inevitably always be running at a different speed as you naturally speed up or slow down whether you are making a turn, trying to make a light before it turns red, or getting chased by a rabid dog. Outside there are variable that will not allow you to be running dead on a specific pace like you can on a treadmill. 3- you do use different muscles on a treadmill because of the way the belt works. You're quads are taken completely out of the equation because the belt runs in a way that it will pull your leg backwards and then you will be heavily relying on your hamstrings to do all of the work. Outside you use both your hamstrings and your quads.

And so it seems that while convenient, running on a treadmill is not going to necessarily equate to the same times you would run outside. I'm not saying this is the case for everyone, there are those that swear by treadmill training and there was the woman from Alaska who won the US marathon trials a few years back after having to do all of her runs inside due to the weather. I guess the point is that if you are actively training and planning to race outside, a few runs on the treadmill isn't going to hurt, and it can prevent an injury if the outside conditions are much too icy or hazardous. Yet at the same time bear in mind that there is a difference, even if it is more subtle to some people; and when you do get back outside you want to keep that in mind. Usually after prolonged bouts of treadmill only running the first few times outside will leave you a bit sore because of the different muscles you use.

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