Posts filed under "training"

Your Running Economy
Yes, marathon fees have definitely gone WAY up in the past few years but it still has nothing to do with your "running economy"!  Back in the day, not only were marathon fees less, so was everything else that went with it!  Now we have heart rate monitors, special running shoes that cater to each foot and devices that can talk to you while running!  Do not read this wrong, I have ALL the gadgets a runner freak could have and I want more!  It just amazes me how much scientific study has gone into running and the number of runners that are out there now! It’s a GREAT thing!

Even though you may have all the gadgets and shoes, that is just one way of getting us out there to train more efficiently.  There is also the scientific side of it all.  How your body moves and operates while in motion. The human body is fascinating and the more you know, the more you can train smart!

One term you may already be familiar with is VO2 max.  VO2 is the volume of oxygen muscles can consume per minute. Even though many runners are familiar with VO2 max, it is not the optimal way of measuring your oxygen intake.  You can put two runners side by side and measure their VO2 max.  Their levels may be the same but why would one runner run faster or longer than another?  Well, just like each person is different, so is the “make up” of each person’s VO2 max.  It is genetically linked, so blame your parents!

Next, you can measure lactate threshold.  This is a more effective way to help train runners because it has a greater influence on performance and is more responsive when training.  Your lactate threshold is the point during a run or exercise at which the work becomes so intense that muscle cells cannot produce the additional energy aerobically and so the body begins to rely more and more on the anaerobic glycolytic systems to produce ATP.  This is the point when you begin to feel the burn in your legs.  Normally on your long runs, you train at lactate levels to increase endurance.  So, your pace is 10-15 seconds per mile slower than your 5K pace and for serious runners 25-30 seconds per mile slower at a 90% max heart rate level.

Last, we have what scientists call "running economy".  This I found fascinating because it just makes sense and you can train yourself to become a more effective runner. Your running economy is volume of oxygen consumed at sub-maximal speeds.  Runners can have similar VO2 max levels but with running economy it is the amount of oxygen used when running based mainly from how much muscle mass you carry.   For example, a Kenyan runner is typically lighter in muscle mass than an American runner.  You need oxygen when moving muscles and since they carry a lot less muscle, their oxygen intake is more economical.  Check out a Kenyan runner's legs compared to an American runner.

If you are a marathoner, your running economy determines your running performance because it can indicate how hard you are working in relation to your maximum ability to use oxygen.  How can you improve your running economics?  Research has shown that running higher mileage (more than 70 miles per week) is a start.  So working your way up to 70 miles per week along with a healthy diet can definitely improve your running economy.  Just like any sport, when you put more into your workout and watch what you eat, you will start to lose fat and gain lean muscle.  Also, interval training and tempo runs can improve your running economy as well.  When training for a race properly and improving the way that your body intakes the necessary oxygen needed, the more effective a runner you will become. 

Make sure before you start any running workout you talk to your doctor, local fitness trainer and/or running coach.  They can determine where you are now and how to improve your running economy.  Also, if you are running 30-40 miles per week and you want to test the study above, make sure you take the right steps when increasing your mileage.  Do not go from 0 to 60 within a week.  You can easily get injured and negatively affect your training.  For more great information on marathon training and workout plans check out Jeff Galloway’s “MARATHON!” Book and more at!

Posted on March 27, 2013 and filed under "VO2 max", "economy", "lactate threshold", "running economy", "running", "training".

Your Half/Full Marathon
tips for the weeks approaching the big event
You have been training for several weeks now and the big event is literally RIGHT around the corner...the MARATHON! Everything changes once you have set the goals and marked the date.  The way you eat, train and schedule your day is all a necessity and as strict as it may be, you have to admit it. . .YOU LOVE IT! I know that I do.  Right now I have to live vicariously through my running buddies because my schedule has been so ridiculous,  this blog entry is dedicated to all the Carlsbad Marathon runners (coming up this weekend, January 27th) and my favorite running partner Jeffery Heard.  
Nic and Jeffery AFC 1/2

Even though many runners are down to the wire. . .stay focused and know that however you cross that finish line, you have accomplished something that is FANTASTIC! I always remind myself after every marathon that only less than 2% of the population can say "I ran a marathon today.".  That says a lot!

Here are a few tips to remember for running coming up on their last couple of weeks the marathon.  These tips will keep you focused and ready.  To ALL the runners this weekend. . ."GOOD LUCK" and know all GOOD VIBES are coming your way!

Tip 1. It's good to TAPER your training load.  A lot of times new runners think, the more the better as you get closer to your event but that is not true.  A good running plan will show that a runner needs to taper down the week before the marathon to give your legs rest and receive all the benefits of your hard training the day of the marathon (2-3 weeks prior is a good timeline before the event).

Carlsbad 2012
Tip 2.  Work on Running Mechanics.  Making sure you have the right posture that will work for you from your foot strike to your chest lifted. . .it's never too late to practice the mechanics of your running.  Take what you have learned through each long run / training sessions and apply them to your race.  As you taper down, feel how your body moves when running and think about how you will breath at mile 5, what can you do with your legs at mile 10 and how to use your arms to get through your last couple of miles before the finish line.

Tip 3.  The Nutrition Factor.  What foods worked best for you before your long run and what definitely did not? I remember training for a full marathon several years back and I had the hardest time running after downing plain oatmeal and toast.  It would stick to my ribs like I thought it would and my stomach would cramp horribly after my training run.  After doing a little research and talking to my coaches who knew me best, I found out that I was digesting too much fiber and not enough protein.  I changed my diet quickly and what a difference a day a makes! I added peanut butter to my toast and reduced the amount of oatmeal.  Remember, this may not work for everyone but it definitely worked for me and I haven't changed it since.

Tip 4.  Check out your Race Date Gear.  Make sure you wear what you have trained in, especially if you are new to running a marathon.  You have to be comfortable and wearing something brand new the day of the race can be disastrous.  Getting a wedgie from those new shorts to nipples bleeding is not only a bad look but an uncomfortable ride.  Check your shoes and make sure they will live up to the 13.1+ miles coming your way in a week!
One of the BEST marathons in California
Tip 5.  Practice Starting Slow mentally and physically.  If you have run these events before, you know EXACTLY what I am talking about.  The crowd of runners usually clump up right at the start and stay that way for nearly a mile or two.  Unless you are in the front and can bolt your way out of there, it's a safer chance to start slow mentally (you competitive types know what I am talking about) and physically so that you don't get trampled or pushed around when starting your race.  When you are surrounded with other crazy runners, everyone just wants to get it started.  Savor every moment and that includes the start!

Other than that. . .have FUN, run your own race and SMILE for the camera at the end of the race! Happy Running!
Posted on January 22, 2013 and filed under "carlsbad marathon", "half marathon", "marathon", "running", "training tips", "training".

Motivational Monday
Right now in my house, we are very blessed with two smart girls that are healthy and athletically active.  If you have been reading my blog, one is a top CIF runner and the other is a championship soccer player.  I'm a parent, so that was my plug-in about my cool kids.  

Every time my girls come from practice or tournament/meet, the first question my husband and I ask them "how do you feel"? We want to know if they put in 100% effort into their game or if they didn't try at all.  Of course, they HATE when we ask (particularly if their Dad asks. . .LOL!) the same questions over and over again.  After we find out how they feel we start to ask questions like, "Well, if you didn't do this or that, how could you have changed the game?"..."If you decided to 'BRING IT', could you have passed the girl in front of you, made that game winning shot, etc? "How bad would it have been to push yourself just a little bit more?".

Now don't get me wrong, we want to make sure they are still having fun but if they are not trying and they are good, what's the point?  As parents (who have made many mistakes in our lives), we want them to understand the whole picture, from the beginning to the end.  Sports can be a great platform in explaining a start and a finish.  The girls need to understand that if you are not trying at the start, your finish will be less than satisfying and then what? 

If your goal is to run your first 5K, you have to take the first step and start with the first mile.  It may take 12 weeks to get there or 4 weeks, but you have to take the first step.

Next, you have to visualize working towards your goal and not just focus on the end result.  What steps do you take to make your first 5K happen? Obviously sensible training and a plan that you can stick to is a good start.  Many times visualizing about the end result can hinder how we will get there.  Work to get there and don't stop trying.

As you come closer to your goal, how do you expect to feel?  Will that goal satisfy you or do you really want more or even something else?  Be clear on what you want and keep challenging yourself.

My oldest daughter had the privilege to watch the Nike Cross Country Championships live this past season.  For days after,  she talked about the runners bodies, running form, times and their heart for running. After about three days of hearing the same stories over and over again, listening to her read the paper about some of her favorite runners I finally asked her, "what is stopping you from being one of those girls?".  I could tell by her reaction, she was genuinely surprised that she COULD possibly be considered as one of  "those" girls.  I saw a light in her click. . .on. . . and the wheels starting to turn.  Later that week, she asked me "what do I need to do to get there?".  My answer, Just "try" by training smarter, training harder and believe in yourself.  The worst thing that could happen is that you didn't try!   

With that, Happy Monday!

Posted on January 14, 2013 and filed under "doing something", "motivational monday", "running", "training", "trying".

This weekend, it is NOTHING but MUSIC, CHOREOGRAPHY and WORK OUTS! I, along with 1000s of other Les Mills instructors will be rolling out the new Les Mills workout formats.  Les Mills workout formats consist of everything from strength training (BodyPump) to kick boxing(Body Combat) to Pilates/Yoga (BodyFlow). . .Les Mills covers it all and you will "GET FIT"!  

I wanted to feature all of my instructor friends this weekend and there are A LOT!  Here in San Diego, we have a fantastic group of Les Mills instructors that if you experience one of their classes, you will not be disappointed!  Each instructor goes through rigorous training, challenging not only their bodies but their minds.  When you workout with one of us. . .we workout with you!  Every instructor has their own personal and unique stories but ONE MISSION and that's to make this planet a FITTER PLANET!

I wanted to keep this entry short and sweet because I have to prepare for this weekend  myself.  My Les Mills formats are BodyPump, CXWorx and RPM.  That's A LOT of MUSIC and CHOREO but I GOT THIS, MAN!!! If you want to join me, check out my schedule on the GET FIT and MOVE page.  If you want to join any of my peeps. . .check your local Les Mills listing at your gym.  LOL!

I want to wish all the San Diego instructors. . .L M I S D. . .good luck, have fun and KIA KAHA, brothas and sistas!

Check your local fitness facility to see when your big Les Mills Launch will take place, sign up and get your workout ON!

Become a Les Mills International San Diego fan on FACEBOOK.  Click and "LIKE"!

Getting back into full training was (and is) one of my New Year's Resolutions.  I decided to start before the New Year so it was more of "getting it done" than "hoping to start" on J1! I am glad that I decided to start early because I feel myself getting stronger every day and it's pushing me to want to do more for the New Year.

One thing that I had to except late this past summer is that my 14 year old daughter is now faster than me. . .much faster! So, now when I go for my runs and she wants to join me (UGH. . .I want to scream but. . .), we agree that she is at her pace and I am at mine.  After freaking out about running with her, I have to admit, her faster pace helps me by keeping me at a pace that is definitely a littler faster than if I would have run alone.

Last week I added sprints to my workout.  I put in about 2-3 miles and then add 8, fifty meter sprints.  I ran as hard as I could concentrating on my form and foot placement.  It is a great way to work on speed and feel your body in motion.  You are not only working your legs but your upper body is getting a good strength workout.  How? When you are pushing to or AT full speed, you are pumping your arms, bracing your core and building muscle when driving those legs up and out.  Fantastic way to get in tip-top shape.

According to Runner's World Newswire, older sprinters seem to have healthier bones than older distance runners.  Why? Higher-impact, less frequent and multidirectional movement provide more of a stimulus for building bone than do the frequent, relatively low-impact stimulus of distance running (  German researchers examined 178 competitors at the 2006 edition of the European Masters Championships.  They measured bone density, lean tissue mass, and how well one's nervous system communicates with one's muscles.  The sprinters outperformed the other two groups of all measures.  The sprinters also had significantly higher bone density in their legs, hips, spine and trunk.

Now, I do not suggest going out there and just hitting the sprints right away.  Look at where you are at in your training and add a few sprints at time.  Start with 3 or 4 and gradually work your way to your top pace the first week and then push yourself from there.

Here is my running workout for this week (What is yours?)
Sunday: Cross Training
Monday: 3.5 miles (+Cross Training)
Tuesday: 25 minute run with 6 sprints (80-100 meters)
Wednesday: off
Thursday: 25-30 minute run
Friday: Cross Training
Saturday: Cross Training
Sunday: 5 mile run
Posted on January 2, 2013 and filed under "bone density", "men running", "running", "sprints", "training", "women running", "workout".

I don't like New Year's Resolutions 
....but I have made a small list of things
 I would like to see change for me in 2013.  
UGH but herre we go!

1) Run more.  With my husbands schedule and my girls being so busy with school, soccer and cross country, it's been HARD to get my daily runs in.  So, definitely MORE RUNNING!
2) Be a better instructor and trainer.  I am always looking for ways to be better and the one thing that will help me is to get out of my own head.  I live in it and I need to become a neighbor and just be the best!
3) Give more to others.  Starting with this blog.  I love receiving information and sharing it with everyone else because even though we are all different, it's good to hear what others are up to and how we can learn from them as well.  There is always a lesson to be learned.
4) Become "COCK" strong!!!  LOL! I know that sounds crazy but I just want to be a little ball of muscle again! I love being able to teach, train and GO like the energizer bunny! So, you will see me doing more and hopefully feeling stronger than ever before!
5) Personally, I want to be a more loving wife and stronger mom.  Yes, I want to be "SuperWomen"! It will benefit my family and when they are happy, I am happy! What does that mean? Get more organized, put what's important first and continue to build a strong foundation for my girls to jump and leap from.  Do you get it?

What are your New Year's Resolutions.  I don't believe in long lists because you start to make long lists and then get disappointed that you can not finish that list.  So, start with 3 or 4 things that are "DO-ABLE" and get it going! Do NOT set yourself up for disappointment.  It's the hardest thing to swallow.  I would love to know what you are doing for the New Year! Many of you email me and that's great!!! Keep the coming and don't hesitate to comment as well!

Happy New Year!
Posted on December 31, 2012 and filed under "New Years Resolutions", "mom", "motherhood", "running", "training".

I had a couple of people in mind for my Friday Featured Friend but I decided to change it up and introduce someone who's pretty special me and more than just a "Friday Friend".  My little bambino, Nia! "The Nia" is what we call her and she just started her first year of high school and immediately joined the Cross Country team which took me by surprise.

Nia had "no interest" in running because of a bad experience she had with Track and Field years ago and she "LOVED" soccer!  She had been playing soccer for nearly 7 years and did not want to give it up.  But with high school fast approaching and not much effort was being put into soccer, she decided to do something a little different.
The season officially started last weekend.  Nia has already made the Varsity team by putting in miles over the summer.  She admitted 2 weeks ago, "Cross Country was the best decision and soccer is no longer my favorite sport.". . .I have to tell you, I nearly fell over on my own two feet when I heard that!
At 14 years of age, Nia is loving high school right now.  She is meeting new people and hitting the books hard because she has big dreams of going to an Ivy League School.  Nia and the team run every day after school with 2-3 hard tempo runs per week, a track workout and recovery run to help them prepare for their meets.

The biggest thing that Nia is trying to do right now is NOT get injured.  "I have to watch my pace and make sure I am doing what Coach told me to do.  I don't want to get hurt and the season has barely started."  At 14 years of age, girls are still growing upward and outward.  So, it is very important to protect the IT band and knees.  How? First, running in the proper training shoes is key, static stretching after practice or before bed time is very beneficial and using "The Stick" helps Nia recover faster by directly loosing up her muscles.

Nia loves fashion, Taylor Swift and reading.  She has the most fun when she is hanging with her girlfriends and Mom is no where in site.  Watching this girl run is "poetry in motion" and I am not just saying that because she is my daughter.  When you see someone doing something that they truly enjoy doing, it definitely shows in every move they make.  I have never seen her more happy and relaxed when competing and that's what makes her my "special" Friday Featured Friend. . .OH. . .the "daughter thing" helped too! Happy Running!

(get with them and move. . .LOL)

 Running and fitness "groups" are the best way to start getting into shape.  You are around others with the same ideas and passion for what you are trying to achieve. 

When I first moved to California 15 years ago, I found the LA Leggers and loved every minute of our training runs!  There was ongoing support and I built life long relationships.  

Check out this great running group in Indiana that share some GREAT inspirational pics on Facebook.  They make you want to run and if you are an avid runner, they make you feel like "yeah, I'm a runner and I'm good!".  Find your local running or fitness group and just get started and "happy running"!!!

We are a running group that pushes ourselves as hard as we can, and encourage everyone else to do the same! The Ridge Runners Team is a group of approximately 20 runners from Northwest Indiana that share a great passion for the sport of running.  Collectively we race in hundreds of races a year.  Most of the races are local to the Calumet Region, but many of us travel all over the country to find new challenges and experiences.  We not only race as a team, we train as a team.  We feel very strongly that a team needs train together in order to push, encourage and challenge each other to our full potential.  When accepting new members, we don't just look at finish times, we accept runners who possess the enthusiasm for running and racing that we all have.  Besides speed, we also expect courtesy and integrity out of all of our members.  We strive to be viewed as running role models for new runners and for the non running community!

If you are ever in the Indiana area, check out this group! They are well experienced runners who can really get you off to a great start! "NWI, keep posting those great pics on Facebook. . .LOVE THEM!"

Let's Take it OUTSIDE!
Cross training and Boot Camp Benefits!
Boot camps are popping up all over the place, especially on the West Coast where the sun is always shining.  Now that the fitness world is moving away from the big machines and using body weight to burn more calories faster, trainers are taking the workouts outside and asking you to get your friends involved as well!  Now before I get into the benefits of boot camps, I am definitely not knocking the gym.  I love the gym, still use the gym and you need the gym on those rainy and cold days! LOL!

GET FIT BOOT CAMP is a boot camp that meets twice a week here in the North County area and I have to say the results that this group is getting is UNBELIEVABLE.  There are at least 4 individuals in the group that were not remotely interested in working out or running.  Now they call me for extra sessions and want to be pushed more and more each time we meet.  It's crazy!  I have a wide area to do everything from running, climbing, jumping and sometimes hanging off of things at the park just to make the workout interesting.

At GET FIT we work on the entire body using plyometrics, hand weights, tubes and body weight.  We start with the lower body and work our way to the top ending up with 5 minutes of an ab workout.  The group has evolved from walking in between sessions to running and lifting weight they could not lift 5 months ago!  

ADVENTURE BOOT CAMP is a nation wide certified boot camp that has really grown in the east area of San Diego.  One of the biggest camps is lead by Jake Glaze of Glaze Fitness! 

The benefits of this boot camp are the following: 
1) Dramatic improvements in your physical well-being and self confidence.
2) Increased strength and endurance.
3) Pre- and post-evaluations to help you monitor your progress.
4) Loss of inches and a firmer body.
5) Four weeks of fun, energizing activities designed to help you reach your fitness goals and nutritional education. 

Boot camps are even great on the days that you do run.  You can do your easy run and then fall right into boot camp.  When you join a boot camp, make sure that there is a "active" warm up routine and a nice cool down for your body and legs!
Posted on August 30, 2012 and filed under "athletes", "boot camps", "training".

for Runners

Running is one of the highest participating sports in the world and there's a good reason for that.  Running is the best way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn body fat in the shortest amount of time.  It's a simple and inexpensive sport to jump start and it's good for your overall health.  So, once you start to put one foot in front of the other, get some miles under your belt and then run your first event. . .then what? Yes, you become addicted!  Your entire mindset starts to change because you accomplished something that possibly weeks prior you thought it would be impossible.  Now what? What do you do next? How can you get stronger and faster and AHHHH. . .better?. . .the answer CROSS TRAINING!

Yes, running is the highest participating sport but it's the one sport with the highest number of injuries as well.  Yes, you improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn body fat faster but if you are looking to get lean, mean and become a machine, cross training will help burn body fat over a longer period of time.  So, once you are ready to go to the next level, where do you begin?  Well, lucky for you, you have options.

I would first suggest starting with a personal trainer. Why? A personal trainer can assess your basic fitness level and provide a strong base to start from.  Second, a personal trainer can introduce you to cross training exercises safely and effectively.  Many of us just hit the gym and wonder later why we are still getting injured?  Well, there is a proper way to hit the gym and a PT can show you how.  **Small Tip: A good personal trainer is there to set you up to workout on your own correctly.**  Third,  having that one-on-one contact is so beneficial in getting the results that work specifically for "you".

Next, there are group training classes like Body Pump, Cross Fit and "runner specific" Boot Camps that can get your body moving in ways that running can not.  Back in 2008 when I started to get involved with cross training, particularly Body Pump, I noticed a change in the way my body looked and how it reacted in my running events.  I noticed all of my times drop considerably from my 5K time to my 1/2 marathons.  I felt stronger and lasted longer during my events!

When you are running, the body works in what trainers call the medial or sagittal plane.  That means your legs and arms move from front to back to put your body in motion.  When you cross train you have the ability to exercise the body in the frontal plane (moving the body from side to side) and also the transverse plane (rotating the body using your upper and lower body).  When you move the body in these different planes you build muscle and exercise tendons that you normally do not use in running.  This allows your body to resist injury, build muscle to protect tendons/bones and gives you more power when you run.  If you watched any of the "behind the scenes" coverage of Olympic runners training regime,  they use weight lifting, TRX training and plyometrics to gain power.

This week, I will introduce you to various types of cross training for runners.  Just remember, if you are putting in a lot of miles during the week, there is no need to load on go heavy on your legs.  Keep it light and simple, just enough to maintain what you have and never hesitate to talk to your trainer on what will or will not work for you as a runner.  If you take a group fitness class, you should be directed by your instructor on what you should use and how much you should use when working out.  You can always ask questions before and/or after class on what is appropriate for you as a runner and NEVER stop asking!

Key note: While training for your next event, if you are running 3 to 5 times a week, cross train 2-3 times a week.  Spread the workouts a day apart (for proper recovery) and stretch every night before hitting the sack!

As always keep RUNNING and sprinkle a little "cross training" to add a little spice to your workout plan!