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The Bullhorn, Issue #017 -- Monthly Motivator for August 2007
August 15, 2007

Just the right push to succeed!

Avoid Injury Downtime

Every Cross Country season, I can remember many runners getting injuries in the first few weeks of the season. Without fail, we’d usually have a good portion of our team miss some of the early meets and invitational races due to shin splints, stress fractures, and sore knees. In hind site, it’s clear that most (if not all) of these injuries were probably avoidable.

When we start an exercise or cardiovascular routine, we often create some overly aggressive goals for ourselves without sufficient time to succeed. In the case of my cross country team, most of the injuries were a result of runners trying to do too much too soon. In fact, the majority of the injuries plagued runners early in the season as they went from not running all summer to the full strenuous workouts of the pre-season. They gave their bodies little opportunity to adapt and strengthen.

If we adopt an exercise or running plan that includes gradual increases in duration and intensity, we greatly reduce the chance of injury and the downtime that comes with it. The best way to plan this gradual increase, is to back into your goal. For example, if your goal is to run a ½ marathon in the end of October, you’ll want to run a 12-miler 2-3 weeks before the race…an 11-miler the week before that….a 10-miler the week before that…and so on. And while these long-run workouts are a critical component to building our endurance and strength, the real key to success lies in the rest days and the lower intensity workouts in between. It’s during these times when we get stronger. If we shorten these periods, we increase the chance of injury.

And although we may try to create just the right balance of stress and rest to perform our best, we may still get an injury that slows us down…it happens. One of the best ways to minimize the downtime is to listen to your body and treat the injury before it gets too bad. Most injuries from overuse give some warning signs like discomfort and small pains before they become de-habilitating. You can head that warning sign by taking a day off or by cross-training. Most runners (myself included) are head-strong and a bit stubborn, and we would just assume run through a typhoon than enter a “0” in our workout log…listen to your body’s warning signs and ease up a bit when you have to. It’s far better to invest in a few days of rest, than it is to see a month-long string of “0”s in the workout log from a serious injury!

Check out the Common Injury pages for exercise and running related injuries and more ideas on how to diagnose, treat…and avoid them! Good luck.

The Motivational Power of Music

What songs get you excited? You know…you hear it on the radio…you turn up the dial…and you get whisked away in some daydream of the glory days, good memories, a person, a place, or just a great feeling that all is well. Music can be really powerful. It can stir emotions; inspire us; and give us a motivational spark when we need a lift.

Exercise and working out can be just as mentally challenging as they are physically challenging. This is not to take away from the physical effort of exercise, but it takes a fair amount of mental willpower just to keep going. The mind will usually bombard us with logical messages, such as: “I’m tired”…”My legs are stiff”…”I feel like walking”…etc…And on some days, these messages can keep us from completing workouts…or worse…never even starting them! It’s days like this when a few good tunes can save the day!

I have an inexpensive little MP3 player that can store a few hours worth of music…plenty for me. And while all of my running songs motivate me, there are a few of them that give me a real shot of energy. These songs can pick me up even from the lowest mental states and make me feel like an Olympian running down the final straight-away. I’ve even found that music has a positive effect on my breathing and my running stride.

Music is a terrific motivator, whether it’s a theme song from your favorite movie or a high-tempo pop song…whatever song stirs some up some good memories and positive energy will likely put an extra spring in your step. Music can divert our minds from the strenuous physical stress of exercise and keep your mind from dwelling on negative thoughts. It’s almost the same phenomenon as making a small child laugh after they’ve had a little wipe-out or scrape…it can make them forget all about the crying and wailing part ;-)!

So load up some good motivational songs on your music player and let it carry you through the workout. It’s like tapping an internal rocket booster that you didn’t even know that you had!

Exercise of the Month:
The Mighty Push-Up!!

Push-ups are one of the most convenient and effective exercises that you can add to your daily exercise routine. Push-ups are a great chest and arm workout without the need for weights. In this exercise you are pushing approximately 3/4 of your total body weight with each repetition. For a 150-pound person, this is equivalent to bench-pressing approximately 115 pounds.

To do a proper push-up, lower your body so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor, as pictured above. Do the exercise slowly for maximum benefit. To concentrate more on your triceps and inner pectoral muscles, place your hands 8-10 inches apart. To work the outer part of your chest, place your hands 24+ inches apart, or slightly more than your shoulder-width. As with any exercise, do the amount of repetitions you can comfortably do without taking your muscles to exhaustion. You can gradually increase the repetitions, sets, and frequency over time. This favorite “punishment exercise” is a great addition to any workout and will give you some noticeable muscle changes in a fairly short period of time.

New Pages!!

Every month, The Fitness Motivator adds new pages and helpful resources to assist you in meeting your fitness goals. Some of these pages came about from YOUR ideas (thank you!), while others are based on personal lessons-learned. If you haven’t been on the site in awhile, here are just a few of the pages added since the last newsletter:

Low Calorie Desserts: Have a sweet tooth? Here are some great guilt-free ideas!
Marathon Checklist
Here's a must-have check-off list from Day 1 of training up through the 26.2 mile race.
Nike Air Pegasus Shoe Review
See if this popular running shoe is right for you!
Shin Splints:
Find out the cause, treatment, and ways to prevent this common injury.
Run Faster:
This group of pages covers lactate threshold runs, VO2 Max workouts, tempo runs, interval training, and much more!

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.

Keep up the great work & stay focused on your goals. Best of luck!

Encouragement to Succeed!

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

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