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RUNNER’S GUIDE: 8 Tips for Road Runners

While one of my pet peeves is when a walker walks in the middle of the road, when there is a nice sidewalk right there, I have to admit I like running on asphalt over concrete. As I was running yesterday, I wondered if running on asphalt was actually softer and better for you. I decided to do some research when I got back home.

Asphalt vs Concrete

road runners tipsAfter doing some digging, I couldn’t really find any firm evidence asphalt is better for your body (there were mixed reviews and conflicts in opinions on the topic), however, I did find evidence it is indeed softer. According to my research, concrete is approximately 10 times harder than asphalt. These surfaces are measured by pounds per square inch (psi). Asphalt can be around 400-600psi and concrete can be anywhere from 3,000-4000psi for sidewalks to 8000-10000 for airport runways. Even though I found mix reviews on the impact these surfaces have on the body, I personally believe softer is better – and if nothing else, it’s more comfortable for me to run on them.

The next issue is how to run on the asphalt safely, without irritating drivers or getting run over. If you are like me, you’ve probably complained about people on the road. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Steve say “there’s a sidewalk right there you moron”. What he really means is “I almost hit you and you scared me to death and I really wish you’d use the sidewalk so you will be safe”. However, after the guy flips you off for coming too close to him when he was running in front of the sunrise, in a blind spot, wearing all black and taking up his half of the road, “what a moron” comes out of his mouth first.

So, here are a few tips to keep you running safe, and keep everyone’s middle finger in control.

8 Safety Tips for Road Runners

sidewalk1. Know that you are SUPPOSED to run on the sidewalk. Even if you choose not too, please know it is the law (at least it is here). While Florida law prohibits running on the road if there is a sidewalk nearby, I haven’t heard of anyone getting a ticket for that (YET). However, there are also laws for pedestrians to follow when sidewalks are not available. It would be smart for runners to follow these laws (since they are made for our own safety and were probably pretty well thought out) so you are as safe as possible if you choose to not run on the sidewalk. Tips #2 & #3 address those laws.

Running Tips & Laws2. Run on the RIGHT side of the shoulder (to the right of traffic). The law says the first choice (if there are no sidewalks) is to run on the RIGHT of the SHOULDER. (Note, I don’t believe an extra 4 inches of asphalt constitutes a shoulder. The Federal Highway Administration defines a shoulder as “the portion of the roadway contiguous with the traveled way for accommodation of stopped vehicles for emergency use”. This means a true shoulder should be big enough to pull over safely on. I would have to ask an officer if we should run on a 6 inch piece of asphalt to really know, however, if my body can’t fit on the shoulder without crossing the line, I doubt very seriously they want you on it.) Please realize this is NOT saying to run on the right side of the road. Pedestrians should travel on the the FAR RIGHT of the shoulder OFF the road and not in the lane at all. Run to RIGHT of cars, to the RIGHT of the white line and the RIGHT of the shoulder. Got it? Good!

running facing traffic3. Run on the LEFT side of the road (facing traffic). If there is no shoulder, like in most cases around my neighborhood, then pedestrians should run on the LEFT side of the road. So, if you are running in a neighborhood, a country two-lane road or on a long drive, you should always be on the LEFT side of the LEFT lane going against traffic. Don’t think pedestrians have the right-of-way. They DON’T. The ONLY time you have the right-of-way is when you are using a crosswalk. And if a car comes close to you, don’t glare at them like they are the idiot. You are the one that is not where you are supposed to be. Waive politely for being in their way, thankful they didn’t run over you. If nothing else, they won’t drive by thinking fit people are dumb AND mean!

4. Move out of the way. It is polite to move to the outer edge of the road or even off the road when you see a car coming. This acknowledges that you see the car coming, and you know they have the right-of-way. Plus it’s just plain safe!

running at night5. Be visible. It KILLS ME to see people running at dusk, dawn or even at night wearing black AND running on the road. Do you know how many times Steve or I have almost hit someone running on the road on the way to or from work, simply because they were not visible? Way too many times. Although you may not want to wear a dorky reflective vest, you can avoid wearing black, you can wear light and bright colored clothing, and you can even buy reflective clothing that is both stylish and safe. If you run during these times, you should invest in the proper gear. If you aren’t visible, then it would be better for your health to run on the sidewalk than trying to protect your joints but end up getting hit by a car. Just sayin’.

Running with headphones6. Turn your headphones down. I always have my headphones on when I run, but I keep them at a level where I could still hear screeching tires, a horn, siren or even someone yelling at me. If you can’t hear warning signs, you are risking unnecessary danger. If you are running at night, you may choose to not wear headphones at all so you can hear footprints if you feel you are at risk for anyone from sneaking up on you. The best way to stay safe is to increase awareness of what is going on around you at all times. If you block out noises, you just limited one of your most powerful senses.

running on shoulder7. Move off the road when you can’t see oncoming traffic. If you are walking around a corner or up a hill, realize oncoming traffic has no clue you are right around the corner. Your advantage is you can hear them coming. They have no advantage. You are in a blind spot and even their mere reaction to seeing you suddenly could cause them to overreact, panic or even swerve. Many people only think of what THEY can see, and not what drivers see. Just because you see someone coming doesn’t mean they see you.

crazy runner8. Be nice. Seriously people. I hate to say this, but don’t be a grumpy running snob with your 4 water bottles, compression socks and competition outfit acting like you are racing for a million dollars. You are a walking (or should I say running) advertisement for fitness so be a good one! No one wants to hit a happy smiling runner. Noooo! They slow down, move over and wave a nice happy wave to that runner. If you want to get hit, have a mean scowl on your face and act like your poo don’t stink. Even if someone doesn’t choose to hit you, they may throw something at you just because they don’t like the way you look.

Share any of your own running tips or pet peeves below! I’d love to hear them!

More tips & laws for walkers and runners

answers.com logoWant to learn more? Read my recent blog for Answers.com, Walking and Running: 7 Rules to Stay Safe and Legal, for 4 more laws you need to know.

5 Gift Ideas for Runners

Do your Power Walks Lack Power? by Bonnie Pfiester, Answers.com

10 Tips to Buying Running Shoes by Bonnie Pfiester, Answers.com

Preparation Tips for Hiking by Bonnie Pfiester, Answers.com

Top 10 Running Surfaces by Runner’s World

Running on Cement, Asphalt & Grass by Livestrong

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Run After Your Dreams (literally)

chase your dreamsSeriously, this is SO ME!  As I lay in bed, I think of all the things I should have done and need to do the next day. I think of what I will do better and what I will quit doing. I reflect on both my failures and my successes. Since snacking at night is always a struggle, many nights I think “I blew it”. Sometimes it’s me fussing over 100 extra calories, sometimes it’s 500! Either way, as I lay there, I begin to imagine me burning them off.

I imagine waking up more motivated, strong and disciplined. Honestly, if I could run at night (Yes, technically I can run at night, but I don’t like running in the dark, and it IS bedtime, etc. Just humor me here!)… If I could run at night, I would bolt out of the house like lightening. (Of course this is just my imagination. I’m sure it wouldn’t look like I picture it in my head. Needless to say, I fall asleep thinking I will make it all better in the morning. My pulse even increases. I get excited. I get motivated. I picture myself extra determined and really disciplined. I remember how great it feels to run and how awesome I feel when I stay disciplined. I decide right then that I will start my day off right and I will erase those dang calories tomorrow! Yessss!!!

Now that I have a solid plan in place, I can rest. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Then I wake up. Ut Oh! Where did that girl go!? Where’s the girl that was ready to leap out of bed right into her running shoes? Yes, that girl! Where is she? Have you seen her? Maybe I’ll have a cup of coffee and give her some time to show up. Still no where to be found? OK, maybe I’ll have another cup of coffee. Hmmmmm. Maybe she’s waiting for me outside.

Time to put my running shoes on and go find her. Yes, I must search for her. She is out there somewhere. I can’t wait on her to show up. My results can’t depend on her. I must find her. I will go. I will chase her down. And, every morning I will search for her. Eventually I will find her. Eventually she will show. But until then, I’m running – with or without her!!

Best Armband for the iPhone 5

PureMove Armband

The PureMove Armband is the best armband I’ve found made for the iPhone 5S/5. I got the opportunity to try it out this weekend on our group run with some of our bikini boot campers and members. Here’s why I was so excited about this armband!

One of my pet peeves is not being able to access my phone easily while running or working out at the gym. First, you have that stupid thick plastic barrier that not only holds your phone but it makes it extremely difficult to actually use the phone. Second, if you want to get the phone out of the case, it’s a challenge to get it out – especially if you are in a hurry. Lastly, once you get it OUT of the case, it’s a total pain to put it back IN the case without taking the whole armband off your arm.

With the PureMove Armband, I can easily navigate the touch screen – SOOO NICE! I was able to easily start and pause my RunKeeper app when I needed too (which was always a hassle). Not only was I able to navigate the touch screen better without the plastic barrier, but I didn’t have that annoying glare the additional plastic layer always gave my phone. The same tasks that took a minute or two to complete, now took me only 5-10 seconds. Less time struggling means more time sweating!!

vero beachSince I’m a picture-taking fool, I also enjoyed the ease of popping my phone right out of the case to take a quick snap shot of fun things along the way. Whether I want to take a pic of the sunset, scenery, funny sites or a pictures of gym members and friends, I don’t want anything to slow down my run. The PureMove Armband allowed me that freedom.

Have you seen Yes Man? That is SO me! hahaha 🙂 I never go anywhere without a camera – and of course the iPhone is my camera when I’m on runs and I just love knowing I can capture the moment, even on my run!

Here are some of the photos I’ve taken on some of my runs. Burning calories is great, but making memories makes it even better! And now it’s even easier to do with the PureMove Armband.

 

Is Your Walking is Working?

walkingThere’s a big difference between exercise and activity. While walking to increase activity is healthy, it is not as beneficial to your health as exercise.

Activity simply refers to movement, like cleaning the house, walking the dog or throwing the Frisbee. Exercise is purposeful and planned activity designed to obtain health benefits. Exercise includes power-walking, running, aerobics and weight training.

Though you may run while playing Frisbee, or lift heavy objects while working in the yard, the difference between the two activities is the level of intensity. A short burst of running to catch a Frisbee is light effort compared to running at the same pace for three miles straight.

Unfortunately, many people spend a lot of time walking, and very little time exercising. If you want to make sure your walks are exercise, here are 5 Tips to make your workouts more powerful from my latest article, “Do Your Power Walks Lack Power” at Answers.com

Answers.com

Bonnie Pfiester is the Exercise Expert for Answers.com

CLICK HERE for the whole article

Are Your Power Walks POWERful? 8 Tips to Improve

bonnie pfiesterI was running the other day and ran past a middle-aged woman (side note: I love how “middle-aged people” continue to get older as I get older. ha!). Anyway, so I say good morning (because that’s how I roll) and she mouthed something. This was my cue to stop, take off one of my earphones and say”what?” since I can’t read lips. She repeated herself saying, “I used to that. I used to run 3 miles a day and look skinny like you”.

I went on to say “you can do it again” and tried to encourage her. She said she was too old, etc and went on to make excuses. I then told her how my mom and dad got fit in their late fifties and that it’s never too late to get in shape. She was totally not hearing me, but I smiled anyway and off I went.

As I ran around my “morning loop” I passed her 4 times. This KILLED me. She was clearly was walking for exercise, but she was walking so slow she almost was going backwards. OK, not really, but you get my drift. She wasn’t even TRYING! I guess she thought she was doing something “healthy”, and don’t get me wrong, what she was doing was better than sitting on the couch – but she could have made SO much more out of her efforts.

Even people that walk past me that I can totally tell are walking for exercise are still WAY under where they need to be to really burn some calories. Power walks should be PURPOSEFUL walks. So, how do you know if you are on pace?

8 Ways to Put More Power in Your Power Walks

1.) Swing arms. Arms should swing at a 90 degree angle while walking and your body should twist at the waist while holding your abs tight. This gives you the power you need to move faster (look at the photo of the runner. I guarantee she would be able to book it like that if her arms were dangling down by her side. However, if you aren’t walking fast enough, you’ll feel like a complete tard because your arms will be out-performing your legs. Another words, don’t expect to swing your arms like a maniac and let your legs walk like you are in a coma. They work best if they are working together and it will feel much more natural. The best part about swinging your arms is, it not only increases calories burned, but it tones your abs and waist. If you do it right, you will actually be sore. If not, you are likely not getting enough rotation.

2.) Maintain good posture. Be sure to stand up tall while running or walking, holding your stomach nice and flat, rolling your shoulders back, and being careful not to stick your neck out (which people often do when they are moving forward, whether driving or walking). This will help train your body how to maintain better posture all the time. If you aren’t “training” your body on good posture while walking, you are training your body how to maintain bad posture.

3.) Walk as fast as you can. Try walking as fast as possible without breaking into a run, taking long strides with bended knee as if lunging forward. Your arms will really have to swing hard to help you keep this pace. It will also feel completely awkward, but it will look much more normal than it feels. Do this until you can’t maintain it any more. I would consider that your top pace for walking.

4.) Prevent slowing down by tracking your walks. For instance, you can count your steps from one mailbox, or light post, to another to help give you a top-end goal to help hold you accountable or you can track your walk time. You can also do sprint intervals to improve your pace where you sprint from one drive way to the next at every 3-5 houses or so. An awesome device that is great for tracking your pace is the iPhone App called the RunKeeper. It will tell you your average pace and track your progress.

5.) Look at people around you. Notice other walkers and realize they all think they are working out hard and many of them look no different than if you saw them walking in the mall while shopping. Make it your mission NOT to be “that guy”. 

6.) Have someone video tape you. This is a RUDE awakening. When I was doing a TV segment on walking, I was SHOCKED by how slow I looked. I was walking at 4.2mph and it looked like I was strolling. Sometimes pride fuels us to improve and we need to see how we look to others in order to be motivated to perform better. This sure helped me.

7.) Challenge your workouts with interval training. I love my GymBoss Interval Trainer. It’s a timer you can set to go off at different intervals to help make your walks more challenging and less boring. For instance, if you are wanting to become a runner you can set the timer for 2-minute walks and 1-minute sprints. As you improve, you can change that to a 2-minute jog and 1-minute recovery walk. Eventually, you can do a 2-minute run and 1-minute sprint. It’s a great way to boost your workouts and let the GymBoss become your “trainer”.

Polar RC38.) Buy a heart rate monitor. This tip is the #1 best thing you can do to hold yourself accountable. Your heart rate is the best indicator of how many calories you are burning. I like to be around 75% of my maximum heart rate with 65% being my lowest and 85% being my highest. (Maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. Then you multiple that number by the heart rate you are wanting to maintain, like .75). I suggest getting a POLAR Heart Rate Monitor like the Polar RC3, as a POLAR not only tracks your heart rate, calories burned, and all kinds of cool stuff, but it allows you to set up 5 sports profiles so you can so you can easily change between exercise sessions. It also has a zone lock that alerts you if you are falling out of your training zone. You can even set up interval training based on heart rate, speed/pace or distance, or chose from their training programs created by their fitness experts. Think of it as your very own affordable personal trainer. Plus it tracks your training history so you can see how you improve!

Here’s a great video showing all the ways you can use your Polar.

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FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Walk It Off: 3 Ways To Shed Pounds Walking

 

Walk It Off WorkoutWhat if you don’t have any fitness equipment?
What if there are no gym for miles?
What if you can’t run and are just a beginner?
As long as you have a good pair of tennis shoes, you can have a great workout with a really great walking routine. Let me show you how!

Many people start their fitness routine with a simple walking program. The problem is, since most beginners can’t run, they can get stuck in a boring walking rutt. They don’t really know “how” to walk, and don’t really know what the goal is for each walk except to just get it done. Many walkers are also not getting their heart rate up enough to really make the most of each workout. Today, I’m going to give you a few simple tips to help you walk with a goal in mind – plus, I’m going to give you a workout to try too! Get ready to lace up your shoes and sweat!

RAMP IT UP!

Taking your walking routine up a few notches is simple. Here are 3 important tips to help you burn more calories and tone more muscles.

1. Track your pace. I use RunKeeper to track my pace and keep me always pressing on to improve.

2. Swing those arms. Don’t let you arms dangle loosely by your side! Swing those arms! Tighten that core and rotate that waist! You’ll burn a LOT more calories, and you will tighten your midsection too!

3. Add a high-intensity exercise to your walk. Even if you can’t run a long distance, you can sprint from one mailbox the the next, or do walking lunges to increase muscle tone and increase your heart rate (and calories burned).

Here is an easy interval walking routine to ramp up your walking!

Walk It Off Workout

WORKOUT TIPS:

1. WALK: Your “walk” should be a powerful, fast, aggressive walk. No moseying!
2. LUNGE: Slow your roll. Don’t speed through this. Concentrate on good form. Go as deep as you feel comfortable and get the most goody out of this exercise. You should feel your butt tighten up after the 1st round.
3. SPRINT: Run like a pit bull is chasing you. In this 60 seconds you need to give it ALL you’ve got! Remember, you’ll have 5 minutes to bring your heart rate back down and recover.

MODIFICATIONS: Runners replace WALK with a JOG or RUN. Walkers, if you are recovering faster during your walk, shorten your walk time to 2 or 3 minutes each round and go for more rounds. Have fun and let me know how it goes!!

Get More Workout Routines at DesignerWhey!

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

 

Handicapped by Fat: Laziness Kills

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 8.27.14 AM

This is actually a photo a friend took of 2 local guys rolling around town.

Yesterday I was driving across the parking lot at our gym and I had to slam on the breaks to avoid an overweight man on a mobility scooter zipping across the parking lot. This was in an area that homeless guys tend to hang out, like the guy who uses a knee brace and crutches as props for his begging corner – but that guy can’t seem to remember which leg he keeps the brace on. Anywho! Back to the scooter guy. How many people do we see on scooters who can actually walk?

While I whole-heartedly believe there are people who need a mobility scooter, I can’t remember the last time I actually saw a handicapped person using one who actually was not able to walk. I know they exist, but I believe these aids are hurting people more than helping them.

The Crutch

fat-scoo7Maybe they start off using them because of an injury, or to help them be a little more mobile. But, it encourages more laziness and dependance – which can lead to even more weight gain. I believe that’s why we end up seeing so many heavy young people on scooters. It just becomes easier to use the scooter – and the more they use it, the more muscle strength and stamina they lose.

Scooters are an electric crutch that someone can get stuck with if they aren’t purposefully working hard to get away from using them. Of course I’m not suggesting that it’s going to be easy for these people – it will take work, but in most cases it’s totally doable. Unfortunately, we live in a world full of conveniences that have taken away one of the best exercises known to man – walking.

fat_not_disabled

Convenience 

It used to be, that if you had to go to your neighbors, you’d walk – not drive your golf cart 5 houses down. Our neighborhood is relatively small. Houses are built along a 1.4 mile road that circles a lake. It literally could take me 5-8 minutes to get to the opposite side of the neighborhood on foot. Yet, jumping in the car is the knee jerk response when I’m going to the tennis courts just a half a mile away.

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We realized just how spoiled we are when Steve did Fat March, a walking show for weight loss reality TV on ABC. Even when they were off camera, we walked pretty much everywhere if we wanted to go out to eat or hit the mall. I remember looking for a gym while visiting and calling around to see what was close by. When I found a gym about 2 miles away, the reality that I had to walk there sunk in. Of course it’s not like I can’t walk 2 miles, but I already missed being able to jump in the car and get there quickly. Steve laughed because, by that time, he’d already walked several hundred miles – what was 2 more!?

Although increasing your activity shouldn’t replace a purposeful exercise routine, it sure as heck is an important part of maintaining a good quality of life. If you don’t want to be stuck in a scooter when you are 70, you need to stay on your feet as much as possible when you are 40.

Impatience Makes Us Fat

drive_inI think the major problem with Americans today is we are always in a hurry. We don’t want to spend 10 minutes walking somewhere when we can get their in 2 minutes if we drive. Our impatience makes us lazy and it reducing activity. If cars weren’t so darn easy to jump in and out of, it would be much different. Even in the horse and buggy days, it might have been just as much work, and take as much time, to saddle a horse than it was to walk. So even then, walking was probably a smart option. Now we’ve gotten so smart we are acting dumb. We aren’t as aware of how our convenient and fast lifestyle is affecting our health and activity.

This blog is NOT to dump on people who use scooters. It’s not to judge anyone for where they are in their life. It is to ENCOURAGE people to NEVER give up on doing everything you can to have the BEST quality of life possible. Whether you can walk, but can’t run – or you can only walk with a cane. I just never want anyone to give up on their dreams of staying mobile and healthy. Even if you are completely healthy, it’s my hope that I can make you more aware of ways to protect your health and mobility. Here are some tips. Pass it along if you think they may help others. 🙂

A Dozen Ways to Increase Activity Throughout the Day

755475631. Always park further out at work, mall, grocery store, church, etc.

2. If you are going out to a nearby place to eat – walk,  don’t drive.

3. Walk to neighbors and save the golf cart for golf.

4. Take walking tours while traveling.

5. Avoid taking a cab when downtown in big cities.

6. Skip the elevator and take the stairs as often as you can.

7. Don’t take a grocery cart, just out of convenience. Use your muscles and carry a basket when you can.

8. Walk your dog instead of just letting out in the back yard.

9. Trade sitting and drinking coffee with a neighbor or friend for a nice walk. Walking is one of the best ways to get exercise and catch up with a friend.

10. Choose restaurants that are near fun places to walk, like the beach, parks, downtown shops and the mall, so you can take a walk after dinner with your date.

11. Don’t enable loved ones. Dealing with someone who is handicapped is touchy. Although you want to be sensitive, you also need to hold them accountable and encourage them to stay active.

12. Stay active when you get injured. One of the worst things you can do is allow an injury to get you down. A few months ago Steve tore his MCL, medial meniscus and IT band. Although he can’t walk without a limp, and he can’t run, do kickboxing or BCx Boot Camp, he can do the bike and elliptical. He even does legs – carefully. It’s scary, but you have to stay active to rehabilitate injuries.

ENCOURAGEMENT: A Man Who Didn’t Give Up

WALKING WORKS: Steve’s Memory Reel from ABC’s Fat March:

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

What’s your take on obesity and scooters? Do you know someone who beat the odds and lost the cane, chair or scooter wheels?

Kick Heel Pain

If you’ve ever stepped out of bed in the morning, only to find you barely could walk across the floor without this crazy sudden heel pain, then you may have Plantar Fasciitis. Typically, as you continue to walk, the pain will let up – but don’t be fooled. This problem will only get worse if unattended – and could potentially turn into a bone spur.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Steve explains what it is and how to prevent, or improve, it with 2 simple exercises.

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