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The Bullhorn, Issue #025 -- Monthly Motivator for April 2008
April 15, 2008

Just the right push to succeed!

Getting Back on Your Feet!

Let’s face it: We’ve all had moments in life when we’ve felt that we couldn’t get any lower. Whether it’s when we’re injured, sick or after we’ve just eaten a quart of ice cream…we’ve all been there. But even at our lowest or lows, very few (if any) of us have ever been homeless.

There was a recent article on CNN Heroes that highlighted the efforts of a Philadelphia marathon runner that set out to help the homeless through her newly started “Back of My Feet” organization. As a long-distance runner, she had run by these poor souls morning after morning until one day she thought, “What can I do to help them?” Her solution: Get them running shoes! “Running is such a beautiful metaphor for life,” said Anne Mahlum, Founder and President of Back on My Feet. “Life is about choosing different roads and our program teaches the importance of choosing roads filled with opportunity, hope and happiness.”

So How Does Running Help the Homeless (you ask)? "...compared with sedentary individuals, active persons are more likely to be better adjusted, to perform better on tests of cognitive functioning, to exhibit reduced cardiovascular responses to stress, and to report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression....Exercise training reduces depression in healthy older men and in persons with cardiac disease or major depression. Exercise also improves self-confidence and self-esteem…” Source: American Heart Association, Inc.

Anne Mahlum’s story is a truly inspirational and motivating one. By getting her fellow Philadelphians to get out there and run, she has instilled self-confidence and a new breath of life into many that may have given up on themselves. Her program also has a placement list that matches potential employees with employers. To learn more about their program, please visit the Back on My Feet website.

Fitness is a day-to-day challenge with some days being better than others. If you’ve had a string of bad days – don’t give up! Make a plan to get back on your feet tomorrow! Sometimes the hardest part of a workout is the part where we lace up our sneakers and decide to do it. Just picture that post workout boost of confidence that you’ll get and that feeling of euphoria as you get ready to face the rest of the day. So whether you’re in a running or fitness slump or just need a jolt of motivation to keep going, I hope that Anne’s story inspires you to get back & stay on your feet!

No Time for Downtime!

Knowing when to rest and when to push through is a very individual and touchy decision. On one-hand, rest is important and if we don’t allow our bodies to rest we can become more susceptible to sickness and over-training injuries. On the other hand, if we skip too many workouts we can miss out on the opportunity to attain our goals. And sometimes when we’re looking for an excuse not to work out, do the sniffles really qualify??

Unfortunately, I don’t have a clear answer. In fact, I’m currently in that situation right now. I’m running the Boston Marathon next week and I’m more congested than the LA Freeway at rush hour! I’ve taken some days off and rested, while others I’ve pushed through. And based on my experiences, here’s what I think…

  1. Running with slight head congestion (no fever) is OK. I had a 20-miler last week that actually loosened my sinuses right up and let me have some breathing ability back for the rest of the morning. I went at a fairly slow pace for the first few miles and picked it up as I felt better in the later miles. For minor allergy symptoms or the sniffles, running has helped clear my sinuses up.
  2. Intensity needs to throttled back when you’re not 100%. Seems logical, but us fanatical runners don’t always apply logic when it comes to running. I tried a workout last week that involved a fast-paced medium-mileage run. I wasn’t able to take deep and full breaths like I’m used to, which led to cramps and slower splits. Had I set a slower pace, I would have had a much better workout both physically and mentally. Missing workout goals can have lasting affects on confidence and morale…not worth it. You can’t give it your ALL if you’re only 75-80% healthy…so throttle back.
  3. There’s no harm in taking 2-3 days off. One of my best workouts this year was after taking 3 days off with this cold / allergy. It still bothers me to leave all those blank lines in my workout log, but it hasn’t seemed to negatively impact my running times. In fact, I think the rest has improved my times. Taking a few days off as a preventative measure is far better than taking a few weeks off to recover from a full-blown illness.
  4. A few home-remedies actually work! I’ve noticed that steamy showers, warm soup, and a cup of tea have temporarily cleared my sinuses on quite a few occasions. And for those that are open-mined and can look past the fact that squirting water up your nose is gross…nasal irrigation works! Check out this Mayo clinic video, if you’re looking to get some breathing relief from allergy season to get ready for marathon season.
  5. There are no can’t miss workouts. I can hear my wife calling me a hypocrite as I type this, but it’s true: there is no one workout that will make or break you. Training for overall fitness or a race is a compilation of months and months of effort. And while missing a few workouts may set us back from our plan…when has any plan ever worked out without some modifications? Be flexible. If your body is telling you to take a day of rest…take a day of rest. I am usually forced to follow my own advice when my symptoms get worse (i.e. like now?!), but it’s far better to heed the early warning signals than to push yourself to that point. Be your own best judge.

Yesterday’s mantra of “No Pain…No Gain” is illogical. Working out should be rewarding and to be rewarding it needs to have an element of discomfort, sweat, and fatigue. But only you can decide between productive discomfort and nonproductive strain. And it’s this good judgment that will keep you going on the right path for years to come. Best of luck!

Exercise of the Month:
Hand Grips!

This simple, yet powerful isometric exercise can help improve your grip strength, develop powerful forearms, and increase your overall cardiovascular health. As far as fitness equipment goes, handgrips are pretty cheap ($5 - $10 pair). You can even use something as simple as a tennis ball or racquetball. The muscles of your wrist and forearm are often overlooked in exercises, yet are commonly used in day-to-day activities such as opening doors, driving a car, opening containers and having a strong hand shake. They are also critical muscles for athletes that play golf, baseball, tennis, and other sports. Strengthening these muscles will also help avoid common injuries such as tennis elbow. Put a pair in your bedroom, at work, in the car…in just minutes a day you’ll see and feel the strength in your forearms. You can 'squeeze' this exercise into your busy days while watching TV, sitting in traffic, riding the train, sitting at your desk, etc…

Sound Off!

If you have any feedback (positive or negative), success stories to share, or suggestions for future articles, please feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you and we take all feedback, suggestions...and yes, even criticism very seriously. We’ll use this information to improve our newsletter and The Fitness Motivator site to help you and others like you attain your fitness goals.

Encouragement to Succeed!

P.S. - Please feel free to forward this to a friend!

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