Jul 01

Mastering the Family Walk (5 tips for amazing family walks)

Having children has been the excuse of many parents for weight gain in later years. In fact it has been found that women and men statistically start gaining weight at 38 and 44 respectively,  this of course coincides perfectly with the time that many parents start having multiple children.

Parents are also facing increased pressure to have fit kids, with this generation of kids being the first in history that is NOT expected to outlive their parents.  Yep, you heard that right . . . if you have children today there is a chance that they will not outlive you . . . due to . . . DRUM ROLL . . . obesity.  Below is a quote from a USDA Congressional Testimony in 2004:

In the past 20 years, the percentage of children who are overweight has doubled and the percentage of adolescents who are overweight has more than tripled. If we do not stem this tide, many children in this generation of children will not outlive their parents.  USDA

Its true kids are fatter, parents are fatter, and children may not even outlive their parents!  Fitness and health are FAMILY MATTERS it is not enough to assume that kids will make healthy choices on their own, and it is no longer acceptable for one member of the family to start a diet and exercise routine alone . . .FITNESS and HEALTH MUST BE FAMILY MATTERS.

Mastering the Family Walk

Walking a an activity that the entire family can do together.

  • An easy paced walk of 45 minutes can burn 202 calories.
  • Adults and children can both enjoy a walk.
  • It can help kids enjoy the outdoors.

Unfortunately as parents we get busy, we come home from work exhausted and tired and the last thing most of us WANT to do is head back outside with our kids who are crying or tired. In Texas it is usually over 95 degrees in the evenings during the summer and I generally have little motivation to get outside for a walk.

However, walking as a family provides a number of benefits that are hard to ignore. Zen Family Habits lists the following 5 benefits that walking as a family provides:

  1. Great exercise
  2. Nature is the best medicine
  3. Reconnect with spouse and kids
  4. Replace bad habits
  5. Engage your community/nature

With the obvious benefits it is clear that getting out with the family is a great way to exercise and spend a little time with the spouse and kids.


  1. Be patient: realize that many children can be stuck in old habits. If you do not have a habit of walking as a family then expect for the kids to throw a fit in the beginning. Don’t give in to their resistance just continue with a “family walk routine” . . . soon enough your kids will begin to understand that this is the new norm and they will begin to look forward to your family walks.
  2. Provide a healthy snack: setting aside a special treat for walk times is a great way to get the kids out the door. Now you should make it a fun and healthy snack. For our kids we give them fruit snacks or fruit leather. This works to create a positive experience for them as we walk and it also allows them to have something to occupy their hands as we walk.
  3. Have a destination: set your walks aside as times that coincide with trips to places the grocery store, a friends house, church, the movie store, etc . . . this way your kids have a destination in mind and a goal set aside for the walk. We live about a mile a Neighborhood Walmart so we usually set this as our destination and we walk there to buy milk or fruit.
  4. Make it easy on yourself: having the right gear can make all the difference. This means using a stroller that fits your family needs, is easy to push, or having the right bikes for your kids. Taz uses a balance bike which, of course, we refer to as his BIG BOY bike. This generally gets him excited to get outside and show off how big he is. We also give Taz the garage door opener and tell him it is his “job” to open and close the garage door.  This gives him a purpose and a job on the walk.
  5. Make your kids a part of the process: If your kids are ANYTHING like mine than they have a mind of their own and love to think for them selves (a good thing later in life I’m sure). To help with this “gift” we try to include Taz in as much of the decision making process involved in going on walks as we can. We stop at a park on the way home, we let him bring a special toy, we bought him a special water bottle that he can spray on himself to cool himself off with when it is warm. Each of these things helps to allow him to feel like a part of the family decision making process and helps the walk go smoothly.

Starting any sort of new routine is hard. Getting kids out of the house and in the stroller or on the bikes can be especially hard if it is new for them. Don’t fret, don’t quit, just make the process fun and enjoyable for them and let them be a part of the fun. Bring music, bring snacks, bring toys, make being outside with the family an enjoyable process.


Jun 30

5 tips for Getting it All Done (how I train for an Ironman, raise 2 kids, work full-time, run a business)

Getting it all done is the great challenge in life.  When you set a goal to run a marathon, triathlon, 5k, or just to loose weight it can be that much more difficult to get things done. Currently, I am training for an Ironman, working full-time, running a business, and raising 2 kids.  Finding (making) time for everything can be an incredible difficulty.

Below are 5 tips that I use to get it all done:

  1. Make a schedule – then stick to it
  2. Stop wasting time on TV
  3. Be easy on yourself
  4. Surround yourself with good people
  5. Go to bed early

Make a Schedule – Then Just Stick to It

One of the most complicated aspects of getting things done is actually knowing and understanding everything that needs to be done.  Once you have a clear idea of everything that you need to do you will find it much easier to get yourself organized. One individual who is an amazing example of organization and seems to have an unnatural ability to get things done is Spencer Haws (yes, he is my cousin).

Spencer has a family and runs a large businesses that takes up a large portion of their time.  Spencer has 4 children and managed to build a business that generated enough money for him to quit his full time banking job in the evenings while his kids were sleeping.  Not only that but he also runs marathons with his wife and siblings in his “spare time”. In talking with Spencer he continually discusses the importance that making schedules played in his ability to grow his business and quit his job.

Tools that Help With Making Schedules

You don’t need to go out and spend a ton of money on a fancy planner.  Below are a couple of FREE tools that I have found are the most effective tools for me in planning and setting schedules:

  • WorksheetWorks.com: I prefer this weekly planner that allows you to plan in 15 minute increments over the course of the entire week.
  • SlimTimer: Slim Timer is an awesome tool if you find that you tend to waste time online.  This tool allows you to track all of your online activities.  By using this tool I was able to decrease the amount of time my mind spent wandering and distracted while working online.  You will find that you spend less time on Facebook, your email inbox, etc if you track your online activities.

Stop Wasting Time on TV

Television can become a productivity abyss! When you really sit back and look at your goals and desires (what you REALLY want out of life) does it involve knowing who the Bachelor picked or how well an NFL wide receiver can dance or do you want to spend time with your kids, run a marathon, learn to play guitar etc . . .Few people think that a complete life involves time spent on the couch watching TV.  If most people are honest with themselves they want much more.

A 30 minute television show is enough time to burn 300 calories.

Now days with Netflix and Hulu you can easily sit and watch entire season of a television show while the day slips away and you miss your chance to grab a quick workout.


Watching less TV can easily open up huge blocks of time to allow you to be able to workout quickly or practice a habit or go on a walk with the kids. Another thing you can do to increase productivity is a simple trick called batching. This involves doing like tasks at the same time rather then doing small tasks as they happen. For example, rather than checking your email each time a notification comes in you can set aside several times a day that you check your mail and deal with it all at that time.

  • Check email just 3 times a day
  • Take Facebook off your phone – only check twice a day
  • Set aside one time a day to check the news

Be Easy on Yourself

Live is a journey.  Fitness is a spectrum.  You do not need to be exactly who you want to be TODAY.  You don’t need to run the perfect marathon TODAY.  Setting goals and slowly moving toward them without getting discouraged can allow you to achieve great things. It can be easy to get discourage when you set a goal and realize all the difficult work it will take to actually reach it. Breaking the goal down into smaller tasks can give you a short term sense of accomplishment as you move toward your larger goal.  This works great with running.  If you set the goal to run a marathon you can sign up for a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and then accomplish running your marathon.  Even if you have never run a marathon it can be possible with smaller tasks and by being easy on yourself. If you do fail or have a temporary lapse in your goals . . just relax. . . it doesn’t mean that you are a failure or that your goal is no longer achievable.

Tools to Help

  • Lift.co: This is an Apple and Android app that leverages the power of community and positive reinforcement to help you reach goals.
  • Way of Life: This is another goal tracking app that allows you to create graphs and charts to view long term goal progress.

Surround Yourself With Good People

This is an obvious tip that is often overlooked. If you want to run marathons or train for a triathlon it is important that you surround yourself with other individuals that have similar goals. Jim Rohn has said:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn

When it comes to preparing for races or setting and achieving fitness goals this quote becomes even more true and important to you achieving success.  You should find people who eat healthy, workout, are positive thinkers, and will encourage you in your fitness goals.

How to Find People to Run With

  • Meetup.com: Meet Up is a different kind of social network.  With meetup you find clubs, groups, organizations, and meetings for people who have similar interests as you.  With a simple search for “RUN” I was able to find 16 running groups within 10 miles of my house.
  • Facebook:  With Facebook you can find groups both in your area and online of people that can help you set and reach goals.
  • Road Runners Club of America:  The RRCA is an online database of road runner groups.  Using this tool I was able to find 58 organized road running clubs in Texas.

Go to Bed Early – Wake Up Early

Sounds easy right?  However, the idea of waking up early is repeated over and over again by highly effective people. Zenhabits discusses 10 benefits to waking up early.  For parents I think one of the greatest habits to waking up early is the small amount of quiet time that it provides you prior to the kids waking up.

For me, it works best to wake up around 530am as Taz wakes up around 7:30.  This gives me about two hours of alone time where I am able to focus and work or workout uninterrupted.   I like to take the time to review my plans for the day, open the blinds and greet the sun while I work for a couple hours.

How to Wake up Early

The simplest way to wake up early for me is just to set my iPhone alarm with a gentle alarm that isn’t too annoying.  I can also motivate myself to wake up early if I have a project or goal that I am excited about.  Generally, I will write down 2 or 3 tasks the night before related to that goal and this motivates me to go to sleep and gives me the excitement to get out of bed when the alarm goes off.


It can be hard to stay on top everything as a parent.  Especially if you have a goal to run a marathon or triathlon etc. . . but I have found that by applying these five principles and using the tools listed I can find much greater success in reaching my life and fitness goals.

Do you have any thoughts or ideas on how to reach your goals and get it all done?  Share them below in the comments.


Jun 26

Women are Out Running Men (let’s go boys!)

Competitive running was historically a heavily male dominated sport.  Think back to the first Olympics back in Greece.  Women were not allowed to participate at all in the games and married women were not even allowed to attend the games.

The first woman to run the Boston Marathon was Roberta Gibb and that wasn’t until 1966 and she wasn’t even supposed to be there.  Women were not officially allowed to run the race until as late as 1972! Roberta had to register for the event as Bobbi.  Keep in mind the race has been around since 1897.

For the majority of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s men outnumbered women in official running events.  However something changed between 2005 and 2012 and the number of women running events began to grow exponentially, with women now outnumbering men by nearly 2,000,000 in organized running events.

Women Taking Over Running

Below is an infographic depicting how women are taking over the sport of running!  Feel free to use this graphic on your site (the code to embed on your site is at the bottom of the post).


So what do you think?  Do you think women will continue to outnumber men in races?


  • http://www.runningusa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&ArticleId=333
  • http://www.runningusa.org/state-of-sport-2013-part-III?returnTo=annual-reports
  • http://www.mizunousa.com/running/blog/the-planet-wave-why-women-are-better-marathoners-than-men/


Download this infographic.

Embed Our Infographic On Your Site!


Jun 24

The Law of Averages (how to run faster, eat better, and be happier)

One of my all time favorite quotes is:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

-Jim Rohn

Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker said this, you can view the speech where he said this below:

Do you agree with this?  

Another way of saying this is PEER PRESSURE.   People like to be part of a crowd, they like to be with those with whom they have commonalities.  Even supposed “outsiders” are always together.  Remember junior high with all the kids sitting at the lunch table wearing the same “Misfits” shirt.

Even if you are not susceptible to peer pressure you will BE like those you are around the most.

The law of averages which basically says that the outcomes of any series event will eventually “even out” applies to human behavior as well. When this is applied to humans it assumes that human behavior will even out among those who spend time together.

“Law of averages typically assumes that unnatural short-term “balance” must occur” –Wikipedia

So what Jim Rohn is basically hypothesizing is that the law of averages applies to who we spend our time with and how we act and interact.  We will BECOME those with whom we spend time.

Take a moment and think of every person that you spent your free time with (NOT those who you were forced to spend time with like at work).

Who were you with:

  • Family
  • Friends

Now, how fit are those people, what are their paychecks, what kind of clothes do they wear, how to they respond to stress?  How similar are your responses to those items.

Are Your Friends Holding You Back?

Are Your Friends Holding You Back?

Two Ways We Become Those We Spend Time With

I believe that there are two ways in which we “become” those we spend the most time with.

  1. We actually adopt habits
  2. We find a new friend

If you spend all your time with someone you will begin to adopt their mannerisms and behaviors.  I feel like it is about the 7th grade (about 12 years old) that kids start to really think for themselves and strive to create an identity separate from their parents.   As they do this they start forming groups and cliques with other children who respond to the “call for individualism” the same way.  They start listening to the same music, getting the same hair cuts, play the same sports, watch the same movies.  All of these outward expressions of self begin to create inward values and belief systems that drive our reactions to the world around us.  This is turn continues the cycle of becoming LIKE those with whom we spend our time.

In order to “find themselves” and discover who they were they became MORE like those they spent the most time with.

If we find that we just don’t fit in with those around us we seek a NEW group of friends. I remember in college about my sophomore year I started to realize that I just didn’t resonate with the vast majority of the student population at my small private college.  I attempted to express myself in my own way but was unable to really grasp the actions of others so what did I do . . . I had two choices:

  1. Adopt the actions of others to fit in
  2. Find a new crowd whose beliefs more closely fit mine

I chose the latter and withdrew from the college and moved back home to Texas where just months later I met and married Sandi . . . who very closely met my way of thinking and responding to the world.

The name for this is Social Comparison Theory as proposed by Leon Festinger in 1954 which basically states:

We determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others.  – Psychology Today

You can also learn more about Social Comparison Theory HERE on Wikipedia.  Thus we spend time with and associate with those who we believe have approximately the same “social worth” or we improve or worsen ourselves to BECOME LIKE those with whom are are around.

How Does This Apply to Fitness

In this groundbreaking study published by the Department of Social Psychology at Santa Clara University about workout partners it was discovered that by simply working out with someone more fit than yourself  . . . you begin to mirror the actions of the partner and actually increase the intensity of your own workout.

Exercising with someone more fit than oneself could promote a higher intensity workout,  participants gravitate towards the exercise behaviors of those around them. Even when all participants, regardless of experimental conditions, were instructed to exercise at a moderate level and keep their pulse rates within a particular range, they mimic the exercise behavior of their exercise partner.  -Journal of Social Sciences

Basically they found that individuals mirror the activity of those around them.  And on the opposite spectrum they discovered that when highly fit individuals worked-out with unmotivated individuals they began to decrease the intensity of their workouts to match the level of the less fit individual.  If you hang around individuals that always eat out or eat unhealthy food you will begin to eat poorly or spend your money on junk food.

So here are a few quick tips to improve your own fitness level:

  1. Believe in yourself – Learn to place little weight on how your mind sizes up others.  Fitness and health are both on a progressively changing continuum.  With each hour of each day you are either becoming more or less healthy.  If you aren’t where you want to be at this moment then make a small change and move forward a tiny bit.  There is no need to compare yourself to others that are more fit AT THIS MOMENT than you are.  If you continually make small choices you will continually get healthier BIT by BIT.  Social comparison theory CAN be a positive thing IF you do not use it to beat yourself up for where you see yourself TODAY.
  2. Who are you spending time with – It is important that you find other individuals and families that are interested in health and fitness as well.  You don’t need to find fanatics, just other who will support you, challenge you, and be there with you as you set and achieve your fitness goals. When you tell your current friends you are going for a jog or taking your kids to the park . . . What Do They Say?
  3. Workout partners – Do you need a workout partner?  This really depends.  Some people really benefit from working out with others while others may not need the company.  In the study from Santa Clara University they found that those who were at a higher fitness level than their workout partner actually saw worse results when they worked out with a partner of lower fitness level.  So, if you do decide to workout with a partner it will help YOU to find someone of a higher level and intensity.

Who Are You Spending Your Time With


Let me tell you why I love this quote so much. I have always been a firm believe in the power of positive influence in our lives. Great leaders have the ability to lead by influence rather than by other (less effective) tactics like fear, coercion, incentives and others.

Few people are capable of leading a crowd in a positive direction and it is human nature to follow the crowd and the path of least resistance.  You can be that leader that others need.  You can reach your fitness goals.

There are so many people that want to be healthy and fit and raise a healthy family.  That is the purpose of this website . . . to build a community of individuals with a common goal of health and fitness.   If you do not feel like you have that support from those you are currently spending your time with . . . lean on the community here. 

Do you have tips for motivating yourself and friends to obtain fitness?  Share them below \/\/\/\/\/


Jun 24

Tips for Common Goggle Problems (a little spit goes a long way)

While training for a triathlon I have started racking up the swimming miles.  This process has been a big learning experience as I have struggled through laps with leaking or foggy goggles, missing ear plugs; using nose plugs, swim caps, and more.  So far the biggest challenge has been with my goggles.

After doing a lot of research it seems that if your goggles are leaking a lot they are probably not a good fit for you or might just be a cheap goggle.  I will also add that in one instance I had gotten a small tear in the seam of my goggle.  I didn’t notice until after a long swim, and had finally hopped out of the pool to grab an extra pair that I had.  The likely cause was my little baby using them as a teething toy one morning.  So the following is a list of tips for goggles that fit

  1. Don’t just go with the cheapest option.  A good pair of name brand goggles can be anywhere from $15 to $30 and are well worth the cost.  Speedo is a very reputable brand in the goggle arena.  I would recommend looking at a sporting goods store to compare a few different name brand goggles.
  2. The goggles you own may not be the best fit for your face.  A sporting goods store will give you a lot of options for shape and size.  Often you can open the packaging up and try on goggles to test out the fit.  Try putting on the goggles and letting them stick to your face.  If they stay in place and feel comfortable they will probably be a good option for you.
  3. If you have tried a couple different goggles and still can’t get a good fit, they make goggles that are a little more like a facemask.  They work great for swimming distance and work for a variety of faces.


I have a narrow face and have had several problems with different goggles.  One pair that I got has a really small nose bridge and the goggles give me a headache.  Another pair seems a little too wide for my face and water gets in on the side.  My most

Another problem that I have had recently is fog.  It gets bad enough that I have a problem swimming straight… in a pool.  I have also learned several tips about foggy goggles.  If this has been a common problem for you try out these 3 tips.

  1. It may be time for a new pair of goggles.  New goggles usually have anti-fog properties, but over time even the best goggles will start to become foggier.  Dirt and scratches will make it worse.
  2. A common trick for swimmers is to spit into the goggles.  Spit, rub, rinse and they are ready to go.
  3. Using dish soap baby shampoo to clean can help.  A very thin layer of conditioner works well too.

Hopefully these goggle tips will help you problem solve your issues in the pool.  It has made my long swims much less stressful.  I can focus more on breathing and stroke and worry less about the water or fog in my goggles.  For additional suggestions, try out Slowtwitch.com.  It has a great forum for triathletes.

Image Credits: Rona Proudfoot (Title Text Added), Alex Bianchi


Jun 24

30 Marathons that Allow Jogging Strollers (the ULTIMATE guide to running with baby)

Running with children can be a fantastic way to instill a sense of fitness and an appreciation for the outdoors.  A lot of moms and dads end up running with a jogging stroller during their training runs but it can be nearly impossible to find marathons and races that allow them.

We have put together a list of 30 marathons and half marathons that actually allow runners to run with their stroller.  You can sort by month, state, price, or race name.

Do you know of a marathon or half marathon that allows strollers?  Post it in the comments section and we will add it to the list! 

Hill Country Marathon Marathon October Marble Falls TX $70-90
Hill Country Marathon Half Marathon November Marble Falls TX $70-90
Skirt Sports Half Marathon Half Marathon June Louisville CO $95-155
Rocky Mountain Half Half Marathon August Rocky Mountain NP CO $110
Santa to the Sea Half Marathon December Oxnard CA $55-95
Run You Go Girl Half Marathon September Tacoma WA $65-95
Santa Hustle Half Marathon December Indianapolis IN $50-55
Bunny Rock Half Marathon April Chicago IL $60-80
Eugene Holiday Half Half Marathon December Eugene OR
Sisters Hald Marathon Half Marathon April Sisters OR $40-60
Hattiesburg Clinic Half Half Marathon April Hattiesburg MS
Oshkosh Half Marathon Half Marathon April Oshkosh WI $45
Irving Marathon Marathon April Irving TX $74-115
Irving Marathon Half Marathon May Irving TX $74-116
Wallis Sands Half Half Marathon May Rye NH $60-70
Camp Wannarunamileormore Half Marathon April Bald Eagle Regional Park MN $50-65
Massacre Marathon Marathon February Greensboro NC $40-60
Twin Lights Half Half Marathon April Gloucester MA $60-70
Fifty Yard Finish Half Marathon June Orchard Park NY $55-85
Den Fiesta Bowl Half Half Marathon December Scottsdale AZ $45-70
Go Girl Run Marathon April Springfield MO $60-85
Germantown Half Half Marathon March Germantown TN $45-65
New Years Race Half Marathon January Los Angeles CA $85-125
Run Bentonville Half Marathon March Bentonville AR
Run For Water Half Marathon May Abbotsford Canada $60-100
Crystal Coast Half Marathon March Morehead NC $55
Owl Roost Rumble Half Marathon April Greensboro NC $35
Run Carolina Beach Half Marathon October Carlonia Beach NC $40-80
Heros Half Half Marathon April Everett WA $55-75
Triple Lakes Race Half Marathon October Greensboro NC $40-50
Zion Half Half Marathon March Zion NP UT
Great Smoky Mountain Half Marathon September
Crawlin’ Crab Half Half Marathon October Hampton VA $60-90
Showing 1 to 33 of 33 entries


 What Months are Marathons that Allow Strollers?

As you can see from the list the majority of the marathons and half marathons on the list are in April. This is obviously a great thing because you will not need to worry as much about your baby being too hot or too cold.  April is one of the best running months due to weather.  In fact the IDEAL temperature for running is actually about 50 degrees.

With each increase in temperature of 10 degrees there is an almost exponential increase in pace per mile of the average runner.  The elite runner will be affected slightly less than the average runner. However, when temperatures reach levels greater than 85 degrees you should use caution and listen to your body. Below you will find a chart indicating the effect of temperature on race pace  . . . thus April races are a great time of year.

50 8:00 min/mile None
60 8:12 min/mile 2-3% increase
70 8:31 min/mile 6-7% increase
80 9:06 min/mile 12-15% increase
85 9:31 min/mile 18-20% increase

Benefits to Running with a Stroller: Calories Burned


There are obvious benefits to running with a stroller.  You shouldn’t automatically decide to not run with your baby because it will be more difficult . . . that is one of the benefits.  Below are some of the ways that pushing a baby stroller during training runs and races can actually be a good thing:

  • Increase muscle strength
  • Burn more calories
  • Spend time with baby
  • Get kids outside

Muscle Strength

The added weight of the stroller and the baby will actually work to increase resistance while running which will work to build muscular strength and endurance in your hamstrings and quads.  The. increased weight will provide some of the same benefits that running bleachers will as far as developing strength.

Calories Burned Pushing Jogging Stroller

Burning calories is what it all about right?  It is pretty simple to find online calculators that will estimate the amount of calories burned while running based on weight of the runner.  These alone are not 100% accurate as they do not include such physiological factors as heart rate, vO2 max, and other metabolic processes involved in burning calories.  So as long as you can keep that in mind you can make very rough estimates regarding the amount of calories burned pushing a jogging stroller by using those numbers.

So you can use the calculator below to get a general idea of how many calories you burn while pushing a jogging stroller:

Weight: put in how much you + the baby + the jogging stroller weigh

Grade: if you are running on a generally flat course just make this “0”

** This is not a science or 100% accurate number but is merely a means of providing an estimated # of calories that you can burn while running with a jogging stroller.

Spend Time With Baby

Ok I realize that for some parents this is not really a benefit as they use jogging and exercise as their alone time but for me this was always a great time to spend with my kids.  When our first son was born I would take him on multiple walks a day in our Jeep Jogging Stroller this was a great chance for me to just spend time with him and tell him stories.

Sandi also ran MANY long runs pushing Taz in the stroller.  In fact she even ran one 18 mile training jog with Taz in the rain . . . with the Jeep stroller he stayed completely dry!

>>View the Jeep Stroller Here<<

Get The Kids Outside

Running with the baby in a jogging stroller is a great way to get the kids outside at an early age. It is clear from the literature that kids are spending less time outside.

Spending time with the kids outside together as a couple is a fun way for mom and dad to organize family time together and allows for parents to train together as a couple.

Finding the Right Jogging Stroller

If you do plan to run with your child in a race than you need to make sure that you have the right one for the job. Getting a top of the line stroller can actually cost a bit but it will make the entire journey much easier.  We have written extensively HERE about find the right double jogging stroller.

So put your excuses aside.  Search the list above of the top marathons and half marathons that allow strollers and then hit the road and get going. Running a marathon with a baby will be a highly satisfying experience for the whole family.


Do you know of a marathon or half marathon that allows strollers?  Post it in the comments and we will add it to the list! \/\/\/\/\/


Image Credits: Ed Yourdon (post text added), Bill RuhsamEric Peacock


Jun 19

Playgrounds turned Ghost Towns (Why Don’t Kids Play Outside Anymore)

My workout today consisted of an 800m swim in my community pool and a short 8 mile bike ride around town.  Nothing too fancy, but during the entire time that I was out I could count the total number of kids that I saw outside playing on one hand.

In a recent study published by The Telegraph in April 2014 they found the following depressing information:

  • 1/4 of children spend less than 30 minutes playing outside PER WEEK
  • 80 per cent of parents admitted they have never taken their children star gazing or fishing
  • 60 per cent said there is now more for them to do indoors

Read the entire article HERE.

400 Acres of Parks and No Children

I live in a beautiful town in North Texas that maintains a total of 400 acres worth of parks including trails, nature preserves, pools, splash pads, and playgrounds. This number doesn’t even include the neighborhood parks and pools contained within the majority of the HOA communities within the city.

We live in a community of about 500 homes with an elementary school and playground and a community pool perfect for swimming.  We generally head over to the pool somewhere between 7:30 – 9:30am.

Here’s the kicker . . . we have only ever seen 1 other person in the pool with us.

During my 8 miles ride today I went through the largest park in town, past my neighborhood pool, through a green belt, and through 2 other neighborhood parks.  During this ride the number of children that I saw could literally be counted on one hand.  I did see several elderly couples walking or feeding the ducks.

So, Where are All the Children

Retro photo of Far west town

It is summer in Texas which means all the children are out of school but it also means temperatures are warm.  In North Texas the summer temperatures in June reach about 95 degrees in the early afternoon.  In the morning time the weather is only in the upper 70’s.  Getting out in the morning is the best time in this area to avoid the heat . . . so weather is a poor excuse for not being outside in the mornings.

There are approximately 30,000 children under the age of 18 in our town.  Where are they? They have parks, they have money, they have time, they have the weather . . . but they aren’t going outside.

“The inactivity—particularly of outside, large-muscle, physical activities—is being replaced by other things.  It’s not like kids who are inactive are sleeping all the time. But it’s a lot more sedentary activity, like watching TV or playing [on a] computer. That is a double whammy because not only are they not getting the large muscle activity that they used to get when they were outside playing all the time, they’re doing something else, and that’s a cultural thing, not just a physical thing.”

-William Kull, president of the Red Apple Foundation

This 2008 study found that not only were children spending less time outside but that there was also a change in culture occurring in our society inciting them to spend less time outside and more time on indoor activities.

Nature Deficit Disorder

Author Richard Luv has dedicated his career to the study of “research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults”. You can find his book:“Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder” HERE.

“Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience nature has changed radically. The polarity of the relationship has reversed. Today, kids are aware of the global threats to the environment—but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. That’s exactly the opposite of how it was when I was a child.”


So how do we get our kids back outside and prevent them falling victim to “Nature Deficit Disorder”? Three simple actions will make the difference and start the role getting our kids back outside and fill our parks once again.

  1. Example
  2. Mandates Unnecessary 
  3. Fun is Key

These suggestions come from a 2009 study published by Heartland.org where they studied the responses of 60,000 children ages to 6 – 17 regarding physical activity.  You can view the article here (this is where the quotes below come from).


Parents can set an example for their children.  The researchers did not notice a decline in adult activity and thus suggest that parents should bring their kids along with them when they are outside:

“By instilling a love for outdoor recreation in youth, parents and role models not only help their children immediately but also set a long-term precedent for a healthy life.  The decrease in outdoor activity has accompanied an increase in obesity, ADHD, and depression. Outdoor recreation has been shown to improve achievements both in education and in health.”


Mandates Unnecessary

The researchers argue that government mandates will not work in improving or increasing outdoor activity.  While awareness campaigns can aid in increasing public knowledge of obesity and other associated outcomes of a sedentary lifestyle making a rule and expecting children to just fall in love with physical activity will not work.

“They think they’ll just make a rule and people will fall in line. That’s not the way it works. You have to motivate people, and that’s a tougher challenge.”


 Make it Fun

Introducing children to outdoor activities in a way that makes it fun will aid them in desiring to continue to go outside.  This is not the job of schools and should be done at home.  If schools mandate situps and jumping jacks (which aren’t fun for kids) than kids may stop wanting to be outside.  Instead try some of these fun outdoor games for kids or these pool games to help kids love playing in the pool.

Try simply taking your child on a nature walk, play rescue games or princess games with your kids.  Go outside and look at the stars.  Its not a science . . . its just being outside that counts.

“Kids are outside because it is fun, not necessarily because it’s good for them. The fun habituates them to a healthier long-term lifestyle.”



Motivating Your Friends to Take Their Kids Outside

As a reader of SimpleFamilyFitness you already know how important it is to be outside with you kids you are already a fit mama or daddy.  The important this is to just relax and have fun.  Don’t use your children as an excuse for not being outside  . . . instead use them as a catalyst for being outside more.  Not only will it keep your house cleaner but it will prevent obesity, wear them out, and build a new generation of children who love the outdoors.

Do you have friends who don’t take their kids outside?  Try these tips to get them outside:

  • Join or start a Facebook group for moms and dads that posts activities for kids
  • Post your activities on the SimpleFamilyFitness Facebook page to motivate others
  • Google search “activities for kids in  . . . ” with your city name
  • Invite them to your community park for a picnic
  • Take them to the Zoo
  • Find a splash park and invite them to play

Generally speaking people want to be active and enjoy being outside.  Inspiring others by simple invitations can be enough to get them moving and outside.

Do you have tips to get your friends or tips for keeping you kids moving?  Share them below.

Image Credits: Matt WierPostdlf


Jun 19

How to Buy a Triathlon Bike Without Breaking the Bank (amazing tips and tricks to save big $$$)

It’s no secret . . . triathlons are not the cheapest hobby in the world.  It can cost thousands of dollars to start running tris.  The most costly expense by far that any newbie triathlete will face is the cost of the triathlon bike. Finding a cheap triathlon bike can be incredibly difficult to do.  This chart below highlights our picks for the top 12 triathlon bikes that won’t break the bank (okay we did include an $8,000 bike for fun just because they are so cool to look at).

What to Look For in a Good Triathlon Bike

Okay so what really drives up the cost of different bikes are several aspects rather than just one thing these include:

  • Derailleurs (what actually shifts the gear)
  • Frame (steal, aluminium, carbon)
  • Wheels
  • Handle bars

Of course there is much more that goes into the overall cost of a triathlon bike, but those are the main driving factors in bike price.

What the %&$** is a Derailleur Anyway?

With the derailleur being one of the single most important factors that makes a triathlon bike either cheap or expensive it is important that you understand what one is and what makes one more expensive than another.


Wikipedia defines a derailleur as follows:

Derailleur gears are a variable-ratio transmission system commonly used on bicycles, consisting of a chain, multiple sprockets of different sizes, and a mechanism to move the chain from one sprocket to another.

In plain English that just means that the derailleur is the mechanism that moves the chain up and down from gear to gear.

When you hear someone talk about “COMPONENTS” they are generally referring to the derailleurs, brakes and shifters.

What Makes One Derailleur More Expensive Than Another?

Okay now that we know what exactly a derailleur is, what makes one more expensive than another?  In order to get a cheap triathlon bike you have to balance component quality with budget and try to find the best bike with the best components for the lowest cost possible.

Better derailleurs will generally:

  • Use less steal and thus weigh less
  • Have better construction to last longer
  • With better construction they will shift gears more smoothly

In the chart above you will see that all bikes have Shimano components.  I have attempted to list the type of component being used.  The “Low End” or “2300” component will be heavier and not last quit as long as the 105, Ultegra, or Dura Ace.

You will quickly see that the cheaper bikes have the Low End components.  If you buy a cheap tri bike you can always hang on to the bike and decide to upgrade the components at a later date as finances allow.  This is a trick that many bikers use to slowly create the perfect  bike.  One year upgrade the wheels, the next the front derailleur and so on until you have the bike of your dreams.

Hierarchy of Shimano Derailleurs – Comparison Chart

The chart below was not created by me but was borrowed from ChooseMyBicycle.com, you can view the original chart HERE.

This chart details the differences between each of the different Shimano components from lowest cost to most expensive.  If you are wondering what the difference is between a Shimano 105 and Dura Ace than this chart will help you to know which is the best and what the differences are.  This also works are a great comparison chart of all of the Shimano rear derailleurs.

I currently have a Javelin Triathlon bike with Shimano 105 and really have no complaints.



Shimano 2300


Basic Road Bicycle component

Low cost

Shimano Claris Shimano ClarisEvolved version of the 2400 groupset Entry
Shimano Sora


Reliable Gear and Braking system

Light Weight

Shimano Tiagra


Light weight


Cost Effective

Mid Range
Shimano 105


Very Light

Exceptionally Smooth

Increased Durability

Mid Range
Shimano Ultegra


Hollow Crank arms

Improved pivots and springs

Shimano Dura-Ace


Equal shifting through range

Perfect accuracy while shifting


Do I Need a Triathlon Bike or a Road Bike?

man triathlon iron man athlete standing with all his equipment in silhouette on white background

More than anything a triathlon is about conserving energy.  You learn to swim in a way that saves your energy for the bike, you learn to eat while biking to have enough energy to run, and you learn to run in a relaxed manner so that you can finish the race.

In road biking you are looking for power and energy conservation is not as much of an issue.

It is this key difference that triathlon bike builders have integrated into the design of tri bikes.  The more of these innovations you have built into your tri bike the more expensive your bike is going to be.

So when it comes down to it . . . it is not NECESSARY to go out and purchase a new tri bike with all of the latest gadgets and gizmos if you are just starting out.  Instead buy a cheaper road bike and purchase desired ad ons.


A road bike will work perfectly for an entry level tri bike and it is much cheaper as most tri bike companies try to put all the latest technology on their bikes to have the coolest and best looking bikes out there and it can be hard to get an entry level tri bike for under $1200 minimum.

When I was a Boy Scout I did the Cycling Merit Badge and we had to do 4-25 mile bike rides and 1-50 mile bike ride.  I completed all of these rides on an old Huffy Mountain Bike from Wal-Mart.

Don’t get me wrong.  The more expensive bikes will make riding a bit easier but you can easily complete you training rides, sprint tris, and even short course triathlons on a simple mountain bike.  If you begin to do longer rides than a nice cheap triathlon bike might be a good investment. If later on down the road you start needing to worry about shaving a few minutes off your time than upgrading to a more expensive and decked out bike might be something you can save for.

When I say cheap I mean about $300-$700, this will get you a great bike that will last for years if well maintained.  If you feel that you MUST have an entry level tri bike plan on spending at least $1200.

So What Is the Difference Between a Road Bike and a Tri Bike?

  1. Seat Angle – Tri bikes have a much steeper seat angle that places the rider closer to the handle bars creating a more aerodynamic position.  This also puts less stress on your quads thereby saving energy for the run.
  2. Smaller Wheels – Triathlon bikes have 650c wheels vs 700c wheels of the road bike.  This creates less friction with the road and allows for greater acceleration.
  3. Aero Bars – Tri bikes come equipped with aero bars that allow the rider to lay forward in a more aerodynamic position.

Triathlet auf dem Fahrrad

These are the main differences between a road bike and a triathlon bike.  The fact of the matter is that these three things can all be changed at a later date for a nominal cost.  You can purchase a new seat post, new handle bars, and a new wheel set all for much cheaper than buying a top of the line triathlon bike.

 You’re Ready to Buy Now What?

So the first thing you need to know before going out and spending money on a new bike is the actual size bike that you should buy.  To do this you I recommend going to a local bike shop and having the clerks fit you on a couple bikes.  Act like you are SUPER interested in buying one of their bikes and get the number.  Alternatively you can use an online bike size calculator like this one here.


This number tells you the size frame that you should buy.  There is room for adjustment once you purchase the bike but this number will give you a starting point.

Now, take this number and head over to Amazon or Craigslist to actually purchase your bike.  I recommend Amazon.com for a new bike or Craigslist for a nice used bike.

If you do decide to use Amazon and use one of the links above we do earn a commission and we GREATLY appreciate it! (Thanks : ).

For Craigslist I would suggest SEARCH TEMPEST.  What Search Tempest does is allow for you to search the entire USA for what you are looking for . . . a feature missing from Craigslist.

Either of these two methods will work great for finding a nice cheap triathlon bike that meets your needs.  Sandi and I actually used Craigslist to find a new Tri bike at half price as it was a closeout.  After negotiations we were able to get two new tri bikes for $1200 including shipping . . . a great deal!

Bike Is Here . . . Now What?

No that the bike is in your home and you are done ohhing and awing over the shiny new toy you need to put it together and head over to a bike shop to get it fit.  Fitting the bike will insure that the geometry is all right and that the positioning is right to not put pressure in the wrong areas (remember its all about energy conservation).

You can attempt to fit the bike on your own using this amazing website HERE (TRI BIKE FIT). Warning:: Doing this on your own will not ruin your bike but you may be left working MUCH harder on your rides than necessary.

The Bottom Line

There are cheap triathlon bikes out there and it is possible to race and train without going broke.  In the end I think the bottom line is that you don’t want to spend thousands of $$ on a bike that will only save you 5 minutes.

You want to find a bike that is reliable, comfortable, and fits within your budget.

Please realize that while the super expensive bikes look awesome they are NOT required to start running triathlons.  If you already have a mountain bike in the garage grab a pump dust off the cob webs and hit the road.

If you really need a good bike set up a budget (a couple hundred bucks will do the trick) and head out and get the bike that meets your needs.  Remember if REQUIRED you can make updates later on down the road.

Now use our list and pick out your bike (if you do click on one of the bike links and make a purchase we do earn a commission and GREATLY appreciate it) Thanks!

See you on the road!

Image Credits: C. Corleis


Jun 18

How to Train For a Triathlon Without Spending a Dime (money saving tips for the poor triathlete)

Triathlons are expensive. In fact one of the first reasons people give me for not having run a triathlon is cost.  Unlike marathons where all you need are a good pair of running shoes, triathlons require a lot of gear.  And it is easy to keep spending on the top of the line tri products to make the race a bit easier.

Actual Cost of Triathlon Gear

The below costs are taken directly from Amazon.com and include middle of the road gear (not top of the line and not the cheap-o stuff) needed to begin training for a triathlon.

This brings the cost of simply buying the needed gear to begin training for a triathlon to $2060.  This is a huge amount of money.  Especially for someone who isn’t even sure that triahtlons are for them. Add to this the cost of gym memberships, pool memberships, and replacement parts and you are talking about several thousand dollars just for training.

Keep in mind this isn’t even the top of the line gear.  This is really just for the entry level gear to get you started out in racing. . . oh and don’t forget the $200 race entry fee (for a small unknown race).

Then you realize that every training plan you can find wants you to train for 3 or more hours up to 5 times per week and it quickly becomes clear that this is no joke.  If you are gonna train for a triathlon you are going to have to get a second job to pay for everything but you are also going to have to quit you day job in order to find the time and energy to actually workout and train.

young athlete triathlon in front of a sunrise over the sea

Don’t Fool Yourself – Gear Won’t Make THAT Big a Difference

It doesn’t have to be so expensive OR complicated. Only a very small percentage of racers will ever achieve elite status and of those who do only a small few will ever make money racing.

This guide is meant to introduce you to an alternative manner of triathlon training that won’t break your bank or make you neglect your family. Simply showing up to the starting line of a triathlon and then crossing the finish line is such an enormous accomplishment.

“If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just finish the race; its up to you.”


-Dave Scott 6 Time Ironman World Champion


 How To Train Without Spending a Dime

I will cover the money saving tips that I have found in my triathlon training in order of the events in the race. That seems to make the most sense and will allow for some organization in topics.

Swimming Tips

Swimming doesn’t have to be expensive right?  All you need is water and a suit.  Well where most people drop the most money is on a triathlon suit that is made of breathable moisture wicking material that dries quickly.  These suits also have a small pad in the butt to aid with the biking portion of the race.

The cost of these suits starts at about $60 for a Pearl Izumi, while not too expensive you can get a nice Speedo swimsuit, goggles, and swim cap for about $45 from a place like Academy Sports or Dicks.  To save even more money just use the suit you have in your dresser.

During the early stages of training you aren’t as concerned about speed as you are about just putting your time in the pool.

To get your time in the water use the summer to do your swim training.  We do all of our swim training in our neighborhood pool which is free to use (except for required HOA fees).  Most triathlons are in the Fall and Spring anyway so using the summer to swim works out perfectly as you can spend the hot months in the water.

If you don’t have a community pool use the city pool, a lake, or friends pool.  If you do end up having to pay to use a pool block out as much time as possible to get extended pool workouts in this way you can go less.  Rather than simply doing a 500m swim try doing an additional workout.  The goal is to simply learn how to swim while conserving your energy and to make sure that you can at least swim the minimum distance required for your race.

Remember the swim is the shortest (time and distance) portion of the race so don’t spend TOO much time stressing over it.

Swim Money Saving Tips:

  1. Use the swim suit you have
  2. Use a community pool
  3. Swim during the summer

Once the race day draws near and you are feeling much more confident on the swim portion then you can purchase a Tri Suit.  But waiting until you have had time to practice will help you feel more confident and give you time to save up for this purchase.

Biking Tips

So the bike portion of the race is where is become VERY easy to drop TONS of money.  A top of the line bike can cost well over $10,000 and it is almost impossible to buy an entry level tri bike for under about $1500.

I’m afraid it is the bike that keeps more people out of triathlons and that makes me sad.  I have admitedly been passed in races by individuals riding a $70 Wal-Mart mountain bike.  But it is human nature to think that if we had the tools the pros use than we will automatically be as good as the pros.

I admit: having a light weight bike and clip pedals does make biking long distances EASIER but it is not required.

To start training for a triathlon simply dust of the old Huffy bike that is sitting in your garage and hit the road.  You should buy a cheap helmet.

At this point in the game the trick is to simply put in the miles and get your body used to biking and sitting down for that long.  The bike portion of the race will be where you spend the most amount of time during your triathlon so it is important to not ignore your bike training.

Don’t rush out and get a new tri bike.  When Sandi and I upgraded to triathlon bikes we went first over to Craigslist and were able to pick up $1500 tri bikes for about $600 including shipping.

Prior to doing this run down to your local bike shop and have them fit you out for the right size bike.  With this number in hand hit up SEARCH TEMPEST which allows you to search Craigslist nationwide and start shopping.

If want to spend under $200 then check out your local WalMart or sporting goods store (yes, I am being serious).  You can pick up a nice road bike like the Schwinn Prelude for just over $100. Or this Victory Vision for about $200.  Obviously you will be sacrificing on quality and speed, but it will work fantastically for short races and training and will work as a great cheap tri bike.

Bike Money Saving Tips:

  1. Use the old Huffy
  2. You don’t need bike shorts
  3. Buy a helmet
  4. Check Craigslist, WalMart, and sporting goods stores

Run Tips

I remember when I was a kid and my mom would take us to Payless to buy new shoes before each school year.  I would put the new ones on and head outside to run and break them in.  Without a doubt each time I got new shoes I honestly thought the new ones made me faster. It blows my mind how MUCH money people are able to spend on running. All you need are shoes.  I think that:

If people spent as much time actually running as they did buying name brand running clothes they would all qualify for Boston.


Under Armor, Nike, Adidas, etc. . . are all made in the same sewing factory in Asia.  They will NOT make you faster . . . you don’t need them.

As far as shoes go it is important to get a running shoe that fits comfortably . . . BEYOND that – – – just don’t buy stuff you can’t afford.

>>Watch “Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford HERE<<

When it comes to running just slap your shoes on and begin slow just getting your body used to running and being on the road.

Run Money Saving Tips:

  1. Use your old shoes
  2. Hit the road
  3. Don’t buy stuff you can’t afford

Now is the Time – Run a Tri

There are always a million reasons not to run a triathlon.  When it comes down to it, for a lot of us finances is really just another excuse for something else . . . most likely fear.

You don’t need to be rich, retired, single, or even in perfect shape to sign up for an run a triathlon.  Just set a goal and be realistic with yourself.  Don’t expect perfection and just get out there and train and run with the gear that you have.

Do you have money saving tips?  Share them below \/\/\/\/\/\/


Jun 13

8 Pool Games for Kids and Toddlers

What would summer vacation be without the pool?  When I think back on my childhood and the summers between each new school year my mind is full of memories spent in the pool. Kids love playing in the water and love being in the pool.  Our kids can play in the pool every day and here are some fun pool games that our kids enjoy playing.  For other outdoor activities for kids read this here.

Swimming is the perfect way to encourage kids to explore outside and to put down the ipod and TV remote.  Getting in the pool is fun for the child and promotes healthy activity with the child even knowing they are working out.  Added bonus for parents . . . it’s a great way to work on your tan and stay cool in the hot summer months!

  1. Marco Polo – obviously a list of summer swimming pool games for kids would be incomplete without including the classic game of Marco Polo.  If haven’t ever played . . . it’s simple.  One person is chosen to be “it”.  They must close their eyes and count to 10.  They then keep their eyes closed and start moving around the pool searching for the other players saying “Marco” to which the other players must respond with “Polo”.  If a player is underwater when Marco is said than they do not have to respond.  “It” must find the other players with their hands and when another player is found they become “it”.   Other variation include allowing players to step out of the pool.  “IT” can say “fish out of water” and if a player is out of they pool they become “it”.
  2. Torpedo – I love this game!  Again a player is chosen to be “it” they stand on the other side of the pool with their back to the other players.  Each player picks a number from 1 – 5 and IT says “Torpedo 1″ or 2,3,4, or 5.  If they call a number that a player has selected that player tries to swim across the pool without the “IT” hearing them.  If IT turns around and sees a player moving they try to catch them before they get to the other side of the pool and become IT.
  3. Colors – this game is very similar to Torpedo except that IT stands on the same side of the pool with their back to the other players.  IT calls out colors.  If they call a color that a player has selected that player begins to swim quietly across the pool trying not to be detected by IT.  If IT turns around and notices the player swimming, they try to catch the player. If IT turns around and no players are swimming they must take a step away from the pool.
  4. Animal Jumping Game –  this is a really fun game tat I haven’t really ever seen anyone else play. It is very simple. Players line up outside the pool and jump in one at a time.  Once they jump another player in the pool calls out an animal.  The player who is jumping must try to mimic that animal prior to landing in the water using their best acting skills. It is a pretty hilarious pool game that kids of all ages can enjoy from about 3 or 4 years old up to adults.20140613_101718-e1402688212406
  5. How Long Can You Hold Your Breath? – this swimming pool game is best for kids about 5 years old and up.  You simply get in the pool and have everyone go under the water and try to hold their breath longer than everyone else.  The last player to come up out of the water is the winner.  Make sure that kids who play are not afraid of water and wise enough to come up before they get too out of breath.
  6. Diving For Treasure – this summer pool activity is pretty easy to play you just need swimming pool or diving rings for kids to jump in a gather.  Anything will really work for this, but you can buy them HERE. You just toss the rings in the pool and kids go after them.  The child who gets the most rings is the winner.
  7. Whirl Pool – Wave Pool – kids love this game – they simply move around in the pool or jump up and down to create waves after a couple minutes especially if they use pool noodles or other floaties. I used to love playing this every summer in my parents pool as a child growing up in California.
  8. Noodle Joust – just buy a couple pool noodles for a couple bucks HERE toss them to the kids and let them wack each other. Obviously this game is best for older kids who are used to playing a bit rough.

Other fun pool games include races across the pool, hand stand contests under water, basketball or water volleyball, and playing tag or chase.  We used to play freeze tag in the water and to get unfrozen you had to swim under the frozen persons legs. Another fun games for older kids is belly flop contest. . . not for the faint of heart but a LOT of fun!

What pool games did you used to play or what games do your kids love playing?