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The Bullhorn, Issue #024 -- Monthly Motivator for March 2008
March 15, 2008

Just the right push to succeed!

The Right Mix

Part of the challenge of improving your fitness is finding the right mix of stress & rest. (Remember: Stress + Rest = Improvement). But how much stress is enough? How much rest is enough?

With exercise goals, many of us tend to be heavy on the stress & light on the rest. This leads to overtraining, burnout, and makes us miss those improvements that we desperately seek. Improvement can also elude us if we train with the same medium-intensity and never push the envelope. The quote below from Bill Bowerman to his cross country team sums it up quite nicely (Bill Bowerman is a legendary distance running coach & co-founder of Nike):

"Take a primitive organism, any weak, pitiful organism. Say a freshman. Make it lift or jump or run. Let it rest. What happens? A little miracle. It gets a little better. It gets a little stronger or faster or more enduring. That's all training is. Stress. Recover. Improve. You'd think any damn fool could do it. But you don't. You work too hard and rest too little and get hurt."

At the University of Oregon, Bill Bowerman was known for taking non-superstar recruits on his cross country and track teams and turning them into world class athletes. And he recognized the importance of gradual improvement and rest. Check out this article for some entertaining insight into Coach Bowerman.

So where does that leave us and our fitness pursuits (you ask)? Well…we’re 10 weeks into the new year and 10 weeks from the start of summer…what’s your goal?...what’s your plan? are you doing? It doesn’t matter if you’ve blown your New Year’s Resolution…who hasn’t?! We’ve got 10 weeks until summer and that’s a lot of time to get closer to where you want to be.

If you’re a walker that is thinking about becoming a runner, try this 10-week schedule to gradually start running. Are you a beginner runner that is thinking about doing some longer distances? Try this 10-week plan for a 10-mile race. Or would you just like to lose a few pounds for summer and fit into that goal bathing suit? Check out this 10-week weight loss challenge!

You’ll notice that all three of the above plans have a mix of intensity and rest. And you’ll need this mix to get to the end. In the past, I’ve tried to cram in more intensity in a shorter period of time in an effort to get faster race goals…and it has backfired. A few times this method resulted in injury, while other times it resulted in overtraining, burnout and fatigue. The key to your fitness success and doing your best is knowing how long and when to rest. Now matter what your goal or aspiration is, write it down & plan the right mix or stress and rest to get there. Happy Training!

The Right Pace

I was talking to a friend the other day in the gym when they explained how much they hate running (as I ran on the treadmill). When I asked them about their running, they described how they would run a few weeks to prepare for an annual 5k, only to run an agonizing race and then swear off running for the next 11 months?! I explained that I would hate running too, if all I did was run hard for 1 month out of the year?!

Whether you’re running for fitness or training for a race, running can be a jolt to your system if you’re not in a routine. Like the above article described a right mix of stress & rest, there’s also a right pace to run. On any given week, 50-70% of your runs should be comfortable…not comfortable like sitting on a beach…but comfortable as-in you could hold a conversation and not have the urge to lose your lunch. We all want to run faster, and intervals, tempo runs, and hills make us faster over time. It’s the recovery runs and easy days where we need to consciously throttle back and most of us do not. And it’s this pace that should comprise the majority of our workouts. There’s something to be said for that wise tortoise that just kept moving forward.

In training for my Spring marathon, I’m currently at the stage referred to as monster month. This is the month of training where mileage and speed push you to what seems like the brink. It’s a hard month. And if you’re not careful, it’s the most common time of injury for marathon runners. That being said, it has made me continually evaluate training philosophies and the physiology of running (so please forgive me for the common thread between the two articles this month ;-). But I did learn something new, in my web surfing…

One of the articles that I was reading was the training philosophy and pace calculations by Jack Daniels, cross-country coach of State University of New York and renowned author on distance running. He derived a formula for an alternate VO2 Max, which he calls VDOT. He used this VDOT value to help predict running performances for his athletes, as well as determine optimum training paces for them to improve during both hard and easy workouts. Try this VDOT calculator to check your own recommended training paces based on some recent race results or time trials. It’s a neat tool to help you find the right pace for YOU. Best of luck!

Exercise of the Month:
Calf Raises!

This month’s exercise is the calf raise. You can do this exercise virtually anywhere and with no equipment. Yet despite its simplicity, it’ll quickly develop your calf muscles and have you stepping quicker in your walking or running. To do the exercise, place your hands on your hips and raise yourself up on your toes and then slowly lower yourself. Do 10-20 repetitions. After you’re able to perform 2 or 3 sets of 20, try doing them on a step or curb to increase the range of motion. You can also try it with some hand weights to increase the benefits. You should not do this exercise to the point of exhausting the calf muscles. Try to get 2-3 sets of a comfortable set of repetitions and repeat 3-4 times per week. It’s better to start slowly and add more to your repertoire than it is to exhaust yourself and take an extended time off. Slow & steady wins the race…good luck!

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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