Jun 11

10 Running Games for Kids to Get Them Off The Couch and in the Yard

It seems that children, by nature, tend to love being outside and playing.  However, as they are introduced to video games, tv, music, naps, ipods, etc . . . they tend to set being active and outside to the side and start to embrace a less active lifestyle.  Helping children to again love being outside and running can be pretty easy and in general is simply a matter of the parents actually taking the kids outside. We have discussed the role of parents in creating healthy habits in children here. Below is a list of 10 running games for kids that parents can use to help their children love the outdoors and begin to embrace running.

For a fun read regarding the importance of helping kids embrace nature and outside play check out this book: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Defect Disorder, By Richard Louv it is an insightful and informative read on the topic and will help to encourage parents to implement outdoor and running games for kids.  Read it for free HERE on Google Booksor BUY here on Amazon.

10 Fun Running Games for Kids – From Couch to Yard

  1. Red Rover – this simple “old school” game can be played with children of all ages but you will need at least 6 children or so to actually make the game work. To play set up two lines of kids standing parallel to each other, clasping hands.  One line says “Red Rover Red Rover Send _______ on Over”.  The childs name that is called leaves their line and runs full speed at the other line and tries to break the chain of clasped hands in the other line.  If the child does not break the chain, they become part of that line.  If they do break the chain, they go back to their line and select a player from the other line to join their team. This is a fantastic game for all ages.  Taz played at 2 years old with his older cousins and had a fantastic time. Though the kids are not running the entire time they are outside and do have to run intermittently.
  2. Tag – Everyone loves tag.  Kids seem to be able to play tag without ever stopping.  To play simply choose one child to be “IT” they run around and try to tag the other children.  When a child is tagged, they become “IT”
    1. Freeze tag – this is a variation of tag where those who are tagged must freeze and are not able to move until another child unfreezes them by tagging them or going under their legs. The “IT” child wins if they are able to freeze all the children.
    2. Shadow tag – Shadow tag is really the same as tag except that instead of tagging the person the “IT” individual tags the childs shadow.  Tag is a great running game as it is really an endless game that requires a lot of running for the child and can really wear out an active child.
  3. Capture the Flag – a great organized way for kids to play this game involves two teams with separate sides and forts.  Each team has a flag (this can be a shoe, shirt, or anything small).  Teams try to get the flag from the other side without being tagged.  For more detailed rules click here. Children do have to run a lot in this game so it is good to help kids begin to enjoy playing outside.
  4. Relay Games – this is where parents can really use their creativity.  Find a large field, bring some toys and create games for kids that require running. Wheel barrow races, water balloon toss, obstacle course, etc . . . really parents can use their imagination all you really need to do is set very loose ground rules that include running or jogging, and allow the kids to use their imaginations to run and burn energy.  This is a good way to introduce children to running without them even knowing it.

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    Taz Playing Baseball

  5. Soccer – the important thing about playing soccer with kids is that at first you don’t stick to closely to the rules.  Just bring a cheap soccer ball (or any ball) for that matter and let them practice kicking.  They will learn how to run and develop coordination all at the same time. We were shocked the first time we actually gave Taz a soccer ball and let him go loose at the park.  He took off! It was as if he always knew how to play. You can pick up a ball for a couple buck at Walmart or Academy Sports.
  6. Red Light – Green Light – a great game for younger children.  It works best if an adult is able to play and kindof lead the game.  The person who is it stand with their back to the other kids.  They turn their back to the kids and say Green Light allowing the kids to take steps toward the IT person.  The IT person turns around at any time and says RED LIGHT.  The kids must stop moving. If the it person notices movement the child must go back to the starting line. A child wins if they make it all the way to the IT person.  This does not involve an enormous amount of movement but will help kids develop an interest in movement games.
  7. Kick the Can– Kick the can is an amazing game for kids and adults alike.  It is best played with older kids and at night.  Rather than try to exlpain this fun game I will refer you to this website here to read the rules. This game involves a lot of movement and running and kids will really enjoy it . . . I still do!
  8. Races – I realize this is pretty generic but kids love to race.  They love to win and they can all be taught how to lose graciously. You can get creative as a parent and build fun racing courses or just race specific distances.  You only need 1 child for this and can have them race the clock or you can have a lot of kids play.  If you buy a cheap set of cones you can set up little racing courses and require the kids to bear crawl, army crawl, run backwards, etc . . . at each cone and time them one at a time.  I have always been amazed at how easy it is to get kids running when you make it a race.DSC_0338-e1402492147690
  9. Duck Duck Goose –  this running game really needs no introduction.  I will say that if you are playing with younger kids (under 4) I have found that it is important for parents to just let go of the rules and let the kids have fun running and playing together.
  10. Sardines – sardines is like reverse hide and go seek that is way I included it on this list.  Rather than just one person hunting for everyone – everyone hunts for one person so there is much more running by everyone.  Younger children can play this game but I have not tried playing with anyone under about 5 years old.
  11. Go to a Track, Baseball, or Soccer Fieldokay I guess you get a bonus game – we have talked in other posts about how important it is that parents bring their kids with them when they go running.  This may sound oversimplified but I have experienced it time and time again with my own kids, nieces and nephews, and friends kids that to get kids out and running all you really need to do is provide them with the space.  They will develop their own games they will use their imagination and they will run and play.  Just find a park with a nice field and let the kids go wild.

If these games are incorporated into a childs life at a young age they will become habit and kids will begin to seek outside time to be able to play.  However, if you are just starting out or trying to help a couch potato child learn to love the outdoors . . . just be patient.  Don’t give up after just trying one game.  Start with one game and move on if your child doesn’t enjoy it.  Just get them outside and be patient as they learn to run and play.  It is just like teaching them to like new foods.  Provide the opportunity and let them develop their preferences.

What Running Games do You Play With Your Kids?

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of every running game out there for kids. But this is a nice range of games for various groups and ages.  The important thing is to get outside and try these games today.   If the weather is bad you can play some of these games indoors too.  Remember, the important this is to spark the interest in fitness and activity.

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Jun 09

6 Tips For Training For A Marathon AFTER Having a Baby

I ran my first marathon at 26 years old.  The feeling I felt after I crossed the finish line instantly alleviated my pain and fatigue.  I loved the feeling so much that the next day I signed up for two more marathons.  When I decided I wanted to have children I made a deal with myself. After each baby I would run another marathon.  With each marathon I have learned new things.  I wanted to share some experiences and some suggestions for post baby training.

1. Be careful not to rush back into training after the baby is born. Listen to your body and your doctor to know when you are ready.  The generic timeframe is 6 weeks, but this is just a guide.  After my first baby I started jogging at exactly 6 weeks after the baby was born.  Unfortunately I wasn’t completely healed, and a few weeks later I went back to the doctor because of persistent pain where my stitches had been.  I hadn’t completely healed, and had started back a little too soon. On the other hand after my second child I started running about 4 weeks after baby was born. I felt great and could tell that I had healed.  I have never had a c-section, but make sure you doctor is on board with your plans to workout.

2.  Running while nursing.  Initially the biggest challenge will be the amount of time between feedings.  Infants usually nurse every 3 hours.  If your baby nurses slowly you may only have a couple hours between feedings to get in a jog.  The good thing is as your baby gets older the time between feedings increases.  This will allow a little more time for long runs as your baby gets older.

3.  Warm Up and Cool Down.  Your body has been through a lot and you probably weigh a little more than you did before your baby was born.  It is more important now than ever to warm up and cool down properly.  The point of a warm up and cool down is twofold: first you don’t want to pull a cold muscle by going too hard too fast, second you want to ease your heart into your workout.  A nice stretch at the end of your workout will help you stay nice and flexible and may increase your stride.  It is best to do this at the end while your muscles are warm.

4. Running with your baby.  One of the most rewarding aspects of training for a marathon after you have a baby is including your baby in your workouts.  I bought a jogging stroller before my son was born and as soon as I was ready I started bringing him with me.  Occasionally I snuck in a few runs without the stroller, but most my long runs were with my little guy.  The longest run I did with my son was an 18 mile run.  I brought a bottle with breast milk in a little cooler with an ice pack.  My young son liked the motion of the stroller and slept very well.  When he woke up I let him drink the milk from the bottle and I pumped as soon as my run was done.  All the other runs went very well, but the last couple miles my son was upset and couldn’t be consoled.  After a diaper change and cuddling he still wouldn’t calm down.  The last couple miles I ended up holding him in one arm and pushing the stroller in the other.  Looking back this run probably took more out of me than the marathon, which is what made it a perfect training run.

5. Be prepared for bad weather.  One day I went on a run with my jeep jogging stroller.  I strapped my son into his car seat and set the car seat into the stroller.  I took off on a 4 mile run.  About a mile and a half away from home it started to pour.  Huge drops of rain gushing down.  I put the car seat cover and stroller cover up and hoped my little son wouldn’t get too wet.  I raced home as fast as I possibly could but I was drenched from head to foot within in couple minutes.  I felt like I was having buckets of water poured onto my head.  I got home and rushed my son inside the house.  I finally opened the car seat cover and my son was completely dry.  There were a couple drops on his blanket, but they hadn’t gotten through to his skin.  He was cozy in his little seat and happy as could be.  It was one of my fastest runs and once I knew my son was safe and dry the rainy run was pretty awesome!

6.  Stretch time with baby.  My favorite time was the end of my runs talking to my little guy and tickling him while I stretched on the floor next to him.  It helped me make sure to take the time I needed to get a nice deep stretch while my muscles were still warm. This is sort of my reward in my habit loop of running.

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My 6 month old son cheered me on at the Chicago marathon in 2011 and was waiting for me at the end of the race.  He had a teddy bear and flowers for me when I saw him.  It felt so good to hold him in my arms at the end of such a big event.  I hope that my marathon promise will help me to always stay healthy for my little ones.  And some day I hope I will run along with them when they run their first big race.

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May 31

Why Stretching is Bad and How to Properly Warm Up

Running Bleachers-Basics  –  Calories Burned  –   Bleacher Workouts

BLEACHER WORKOUT WARM UP

Before you begin any workout it is important that you properly warm up. This is especially true before a bleacher or stair workout This is a topic that many people, including experienced runners may not correctly understand.

Two Types of Stretching

There are two basic forms of stretching; dynamic (not to be confused with ballistic) and static, both of which serve very different purposes.

Dynamic involves moving body parts in a controlled manner as you reach the limits of your range of motion.

Static stretching on the other hand involves stretching the body to its furthest reach and then holding that position.

Dynamic stretching should be done prior to exercising and static should be done after exercising.  Do not confuse this point.  This article from Runners World is a helpful resource concerning stretching.

Examples of dynamic stretches include high knees, butt kicks, running backwards, swinging you leg in a running motion etc.

For further examples of proper warming up for running bleachers Aurora Sports Med has a fantastic video on You Tube.

Just imagine your muscles as rubber bands, as they sit still during the day they contract and become cold.  Stretching the muscles puts strain on them and pulls them to their max, doing this with cold muscles will cause damage.  As you perform dynamic stretches you are putting your muscles slowly through the same types of motion that they will perform during the workout while running bleachers.  Static stretches can be done as part of your cool down and actually will help to improve flexibility, increase speed, and prevent injury.

In my experience new runners either under prepare or over prepare for for workouts.  If your muscles  are cold and tight they will not be able to expand and putting them through a workout will only cause harm. Dynamic stretching mimics the movements of the workout that you will do in a slow manner slowly progressing the body part (muscle) to the full range of motion. Once the muscle is able to reach the full range of motion or close to it the muscle is prepared for a workout.

After running bleachers and the workout has been completed the muscle is warm and loose and is at a point where you can improve flexibility. It is at this time that static stretching will pay off high dividends. You should spend fifteen to twenty minutes statically stretching the muscle to its fullest point. Resistance will be felt and it is important to meet this resistance and hold the stretch and push past this point a bit. The runner will notice during future workouts that they are slowly able to increase their flexibility.

Improved flexibility will aid in the reduction of injuries and improve speed. Legs will have an increased range of motion and be able to improve stride. As muscles and tendons strengthen and achieve increased flexibility you will notice that stretching in the proper manner has paid off and running bleachers will become fun and not a chore.

Jump to:

Running Bleachers-Basics  –  Calories Burned  –   Bleacher Workouts

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May 27

5 Tips For Running as a Couple: How We Trained as a Couple For 3 Marathons

I always enjoyed running solo when I was single. I loved throwing my headphones on with my favorite running tunes and heading out onto the tiny roads that wind between the hilly potato fields in Eastern Idaho.  This became my release and my “alone time”.

Things changed when I got married. Sandi and I got married in 2007. When we started dating one of our favorite dates was to run together. Sandi was just getting into running and her greatest motivation for working out was having a partner to run with. Without a partner . . . she didn’t run.

So I had to make adjustments (really, it wasn’t a big adjustment as it was a great way to spend time with my girlfriend).

Challenges to Running as a Couple

Running together presented some challenges.

I was running an 18 minute 5K and Sandi had the goal of breaking 30 minutes.  I had run 4 marathons and Sandi had not yet run more than 3 miles.

So speed and distance tolerance were major difficulties to running together and we had to find a way around these hurdles.

Many couples find this same hurdle when trying to run together.  One individual is just starting out in fitness and running while the other has been running for many years.

Benefits to Running With Your Spouse/Partner

Jogging together has many benefits that in many ways outweigh the difficulties.

For Sandi and I jogging together has become our way of spending time together.  In many ways it has become our “date time”.  We plan out our runs and workouts in advance and it gives us a minimum of 30 minutes to a couple of hours to just chat and talk.  Working out together can really be a way for couples to  spend time together and communicate.

Working on a common goal is a rapid path to forging stronger relationships. I have noticed this in my job as a night shift nurse.  Whenever a patient codes of crap hits the fan and we are forced to band together as a team and we always come out with stronger bonds.  The same is true of athletic teams.  After the stress, long hours, ups and downs of an athletic season, unbreakable bonds are formed.  Running with a spouse or partner creates the same bond.  Training is hard.  Setting goals and training for races creates a bond with your partner. The stress of grinding through a workout the joys of achieving a PR all work together to strengthen the relationship between spouses that train together.

Tips For Working Out With a Spouse

So, how do you run as a couple? What is the trick to getting your training in with your spouse?  Here are some tips that Sandi and I have used to run together and build our relationship.

 

  • Running bleachers
  • Track workouts
  • Sprints at park or football field
  • Running loops at a park
  • Running short loops so you can see each other

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Running Bleachers

Not only does running bleachers allow you to run with your husband wife, but it is also one of the best workouts you can do when training for speed or endurance. Running bleachers strengthens key muscles in your legs and thighs which will increase your endurance when running.  When running a marathon or other long distances there is much less concern about respiratory strength versus strength and endurance.  Bleachers are a great way to get your legs to exhaustion quickly so that you build endurance and strength in a short amount of time.

Couples are able to stay together and make bleacher sprints within just a few feet of each other.  Finding bleachers is not terribly difficult either, you can simply head over to the closest high school or middle school and begin doing bleacher sprints.  Even as little as 10 or 20 stairs will be enough to get a great workout.

Track Workouts

Track workouts offer a great way for couples or individuals of different speeds and skill levels ot train together.  While training on a track you can run interval workouts or timed sprints and then take breaks between workouts together.  It is also possible to simply run distance workouts on the track, doing this allows you to be able to see eachother and communitcate while running without having to be too far apart.  This of course can be pretty boring if you are running more than a couple miles.

Here are a couple ideas for track workouts.

Run speed intervals – 100, 200, 400, 600, 800, 600, 400, 200, 100 – We used to call these ladders back in the day. This workout basically intails sprinting a short distance at top speed. Betweem each sprint you rest just enough time to recover (1-5 minutes) before running the next sprint.  Your goal is to run each sprint at top speed.

800m X 10 – It has been hypothesized that if you can run 10 800m sprints at a consistant pace than that will be your marathon time . . . in other words, if you can run 10 800m sprints at 3:30 minutes than you should be able to run a marathon in 3:30:00.  I have actually tested this and have found it to be most accurate.  The trick is to run an 800 at you marathon goal pace and then to rest only a couple minutes between each one.  As your strength and endurance improves you will gradually be able to run the full 10 at your goal . . . if it is realistic.

Spint 100m jog back 50m – this workout sounds deceptively easy.  The goal is to start on the first straightaway of the track and to sprint 100m at full speed, as soon as you finish the 100m you turn around and jog back 50m.  When you reach the 50m point you turn around and sprint 100m again.  This pattern is repeated until you return to the starting point.

Running on a track is a wonderful way to train together as a couple.  If you have children you can bring them and allow them to play on the track or field.  Having infants also works out because you can keep a close eye on them whether you let them out to paly of decide to leave them in a stroller at you r starting point , either way you will only be away from them for a couple of minutes maximum.

Doing Sprints at a Park or Football Field

Sprinting on the grass at a park or football field can be a highly soothing experience.  Often, if the grass is well maintained you can take your shoes off and really enjoy the soft, cool grass directly on your bare feet.

This is a great exercise for couples because you are always close to your partner.  You can even bring children along to allow them to workout with you or to play as you complete your sprint workout.  Many high schools and middle schools have soccer or football fields that are open to the public or are relatively easy to get into to complete a workout.

Try some of these workouts next time you can find a nice open field:

25 meter shuttles – this workout is a killer and great for destroying your quads and developing strength and speed.  Start at a designated spot and place cones or markers every 5 meters (about three large paces) for a total of 25 meters.  Then from the starting point sprint to the first 5 meter marker, bend down, touch the line, trun around and sprint back to the starting point.  At the starting point bend low and touch the line then turn around and sprint to the 10 meter line.  Do this over and over until you reach the 25 meter point.  At that point work your way back down 5 meters at a time until you get back to the starting point again.  Take a break and repeat.

10m sprint and pushups – This workout is best on a football field with clearly defined meter markers.  You simply sprint 10 meters then do 5 – 10 pushups. This is reapeated over and over until you run the entire length of the field . . . then turn around and repeat. To make it a bit easier you can do the pushups each 20 meters instead of every 10.

Snake – I love this workout but it is best completed with 3-4 people. This can be done at a park or a football field.  To do this workout simple have each runner line up and begin running in single file line about 10 – 20 meters apart.  You should begin jogging at a slow cool down pace.  At a given time the runner in the back of the line goes to the side of the line and sprints to the front of the line. As soon as that runner reaches the front of the line the runner who is now in the back goes to the side and sprints to the front of the line. This process repeats over and over and over.  I like doing this on a football field because you con follow the five yard markers and swerve along each five yard line until you reach the end of the football field.  Dooing this would make the total distance run about 1,000 meters or about 2/3 mile.

Running Loops Around a Park

If you have small children this is a fun way to get the entire family out to the park and to set an example of working out and fitness with your kids. All you really need is a nice sized park that has at least an 800 meter peremeter and nice playground for the kiddos to play on. Just pack the kids up and bring them over to the park.  One parent at a time takes turns either watching/playing with the kids or sprinting around the park.  Since you will only be running ½ mile to a mile at a time it is important that you run just a bit faster than your normal running speed and faster than you race pace.  After completing a loop you then switch places with you partner and they run while you watch the kdis.  Parents can easiy do this workout together with kids and the kids will love the chance to be outside playing on the playground.

Running Short Loops

One trick to being able to train at your optimal pace and still be able to run with your partner is to set up pre designed short loops that you can run several laps on.  This way both partners can run at their perfect pace while still being able to see eachother each time they pass on the course.  Possibly setting up a short mile loop (out and back) type course will work best for this.  This way each couple mintues you can see eachother, cheer eachother on, or take turns pushing the stroller while not having to sacrifice pace to be able to run together.

Take the Time – Make it Work

Few things in life will build a stronger bond and relationship than running together and training as a couple. While it may take a bit of extra plainnig to get the workouts organized it is possible.  Children will love working out with their parents and getting them outside with you on workouts at a young age is a fantastic way to set an example of health and wellness for your young children.

Do you have any fun workouts that you do with your partner or children?  We would love to hear about them – – – share them below!

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May 20

Why Being Fat Actually Demotivates Me From Working Out (and How to Change)

So I have mentioned a few times before on here how I used to be in amazing shape and run a 3:24 marathon.  Swimming a mile without breaks was a warm up and biking 50 miles just hurt my butt.  I was in pretty good shape.

I won’t go into the details of how I got out of shape too much here as you can read this post HERE if you are interested in that.  I will say though that I went from 160lbs with nearly an 8 pack to 195lbs and a cholesterol dangerously approaching 200 (yeah that’s bad).

Here is a picture of me in 2009:

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The Power of Habits – And What Motivates Me

I was always an athlete.  I began playing sports from the time I was just learning to walk.  In 4th grade I started running cross country, and I was pretty good.

I thrive on positive reinforcement from others.  For that reason sports worked really well for me.  As I improved my skills and found my niche in athletics I got better.  Hearing praise from others fueled my ego.  I loved having coaches, parents, teammates, classmates, and strangers tell me how good I was.  Nothing motivated me more!

Once high school was over I continued to seek that positive reinforcement so I began running and working out religiously. I always chalked it up to “I just love competition so this is a way for me to compete”.  But as I look back and think on it, I believe that I was seeking praise and admiration from roommates, girls,and probably to some degree I loved to think that other guys were jealous of me.

I would go to the college track when it was busiest take my shirt off and do my workouts . . . yeah I was that guy. Running certainly became a ritual for me.  I bought the brightest shoes, wore the short shorts, grew my hair out, made sure the bandanna and sunglasses were in the exact right spot and that I would have an audience.

Don’t get me wrong . . . I did work my butt off, I just made sure I would achieve the praise I wanted.

The Habit Loop: Cue – Routine – Reward

Charles Duhigg, in his book: The Power of Habit which spent 60 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List explains what he terms the Habit Loop:

From: Charles Duhigg

From: Charles Duhigg

Simply put, all habits whether positive or negative follow the course of cue-routine-reward.  

  1. CUE: A specific time of day comes
  2. ROUTINE: I go running
  3. REWARD: I am rewarded by people looking, positive comments, and jealous roommates

So as long as my habit loop stays in place I am able to continue with the habit indefinitely (theoretically).

So, How Did I Stop Running

Assuming that this loop never breaks I am golden.  The problem is life changes.

When Sandi and I lived in Oklahoma my cue to workout was 3:30pm.  At that moment I stopped doing everything I was doing and started to get ready for the workout.

I packed the exercise bag and went through my ritual of ensuring I looked like I had wasted way too much time getting ready for my workout.

I did this EVERYDAY

But, like I said life changes.  We moved.  We got new jobs. We weren’t sure where to workout.  We didn’t have our same running trails.

Suddenly my cues were gone . . . . and sure enough within weeks my routine was broken.  My body was still in decent shape so I appreciated the occasional compliments at the pool or wherever we would go that I happened to take my shirt off.

Unfortunately, the residual effect of working out and running eventually fades if you stop . . . obviously!

With No Reward – There is No Routine

The compliments began to fade, life continued to change, and I began to put the weight on.  Soon the compliments turned to suggestions from family members that I start running again or Sandi begging me to go on a jog with her.

The problem was: My reward was the praise for looking good!

Without that praise, I had no reward for working out and new habits began to form. Now instead of running, doing situps, and eating right, I had quickly developed habits tied to eating poorly, and the release of stress from watching a sitcom.

Soon the praise stopped.  My body was no longer the envy of ANYONE! And here I am today at 195lbs barely able to run 3 miles.

So, How Do You Motivate Yourself – – – You Don’t

The question is less about motivation.  I am MOTIVATED to get back into shape.  I want to have a 6 pack. I don’t want to have a stroke at 40. Each night I go to sleep thinking . . . “tomorrow I will run”.

The Habit is stronger than the Motivation. I have to create a new habit to get out and exercise.  The enormous hurdle though is that for 32 years my reward was always tied to recognition and praise for having a “good body”.  That ain’t happening any time soon.

I have to Change my Reward

In order to create the new habit I have to do two things:

  1. Develop a cue
  2. Change the reward

Generally, the easiest way to change a habit is to simple change the action and maintain the same reward and cues. But that is not possible in this case. My reward is unavailable.

How to Create a New Cue

Creating a new cue is simple.  I just need to develop a set pattern or time that becomes my new cue to workout.  It can be as simple as having a pair of shoes that is only used for working out.  Setting clothes in a place that I can see them.  Creating an alarm on my iPhone. etc. . .

Finding a reward however will take some experimentation.  The reward that I crave is praise.  Here are some of the rewards that I have thought of implementing:

  • Posting my runs and workouts on Facebook – this would allow for positive reinforcement from a community of friends.
  • Taking weekly photos and posting them for family to see – or this community – the gradual progression my initiate praise.
  • Buying a Smootie from Smoothie Factory after each run.  This will allow for a guaranteed award after each run that I can count on.

Why Being Out Of Shape De-Motivated

So although it seems counter-intuitive that being out of shape actually demotivates me to workout, it remains that my reward and desire to workout was so directly tied to the pride of positive comments from outside individuals.

Encouragement would never work.  The first step in getting back into shape was to recognize how I got to where I am and then investigating the Habit Loop that drives my behavior.

Once this has been done I can begin to create a new habit loop as discussed above.

 Motivating a Loved One to Get In Shape

If you have a glimmer of desire to get into shape or reach fitness goals that seem unattainable right now or if you have a loved one or spouse who might need a boost it is important that you first try to understand the habit loop and that you don’t pre judge motives.

No one WANTS to be out of shape,no one WANTS to feel tired and overweight . . . no one WANTS these things but our habits are MUCH stronger than  we will power.

Approaching with love and a desire to understand will create an environment that may lead to change.

  • Attempt to understand cues for positive and negative behaviors
  • Identify the habit that those cues lead to
  • What reward drives the habit

Do You Have a Habit You Want to Change?  Have You Changed a Habit in the Past?  Share Your Experience Below.

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May 19

How I Got Fat, And Why I Blamed My Kids

I don’t like fat people.  At least I used to be very prejudice against fat people . . .  then, I got fat.

At the time I was working out a minimum of 4 days a week for 2-4 hours a day.  It became a sort of obsession, or at least a habit that I was unwilling to give up.  From 4pm to about 7 pm every day I was at the track running laps, running bleachers, swimming, or biking.

Life was pretty simple.  Sandi (my wife) and I had just gotten married and moved to a small town in Oklahoma. She worked at a hospital that was only 1/2 mile from our house, and I was a stay at home husband.

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I spent my time trying to decide what to do with my life.  I was 25 and sort of a late bloomer career wise.   I flipped houses for  awhile (read: I lost money on two ghetto homes), I did some roofing with a brother in law, I didn’t go to a couple job interviews, I started college twice.  For the most part my time was spent researching workouts and marathon training techniques, when I wasn’t researching workouts, I was developing spreadsheets with target running times or planning our next road trip to an upcoming marathon.

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Sandi was only working about 30-40 hours a week, but it was a pretty laid back job, so we would have breakfast and lunch together.  And she was always home by 4pm at the latest.

Like I said, life was pretty good!

At the same time we started to become obsessed with diet and nutrition (Sandi is actually a Dietitian by trade) and we developed a pretty restrictive diet plan that included almost no saturated fat and tons of fruits and veggies.  Not only was health important to us, but we had the time, money, and support to make health and fitness work.  This coupled with the fact that we lived in a town where the nearest movie theater was 120 miles away created the perfect atmosphere for us to focus an intense amount of energy on working out.

Fast Forward 5 Years

Over the last 5 years life has changed significantly for our family.  To make a long story short we have lived in 10 homes/apartments, had two kids, I have had 3 full time jobs, we have started two businesses, and I have completed 2 Bachelors degrees. . . . Oh, and we have had we have had two kids.

jon-and-taz

I now weigh 195 pounds, for a 5’8″ male (like myself) that makes my BMI 29.6, 30 is obese which means if I gain two pounds my BMI will say that I am obese. To be fair, even when I was 4% body fat my BMI was still 26, so its not the best description of physic.

What Happened Over the Last 5 Years

When you don’t have a “real” job and no kids, your time is yours.  I was able to do whatever I wanted with my time and this allowed for very intense workouts . . . when I had the energy to do intense workouts.  Now days I have two kids on top of the fact that I work nights.  When I get home from work at 8am the kids are crying, they are hungry, cranky, loud, and I don’t have the energy to deal with it.

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All I really want to do is to go to sleep. But I stay awake for a couple hours to get some play time in with the kiddos or to eat breakfast with the family.

Generally, I am balancing trying to stay awake during the day time and just the shear challenges of parenting that every other parent faces and generally speaking I am too tired to workout.

When meal time comes I often given in to the enticing of Ronald McDonald because it will entertain the kids for a couple hours and it won’t make a mess in the house. His damn Siren song is just too much to ignore on some days (ba da ba ba ba!).

Each night I go to bed thinking “tomorrow will be the day that I wake up early”, but I usually stay up to late each night so that I can have a few hours of quiet time after the kids are in bed.  Then, at 2am Taz, my 3 year old boy, comes into our room and climbs up into our bed shoving us out of his way.

On the rare occasion that my energy levels lines up with my ambition and I do end up on a jog where I have to push 60 pounds of kid and stroller while also trying to carry my extra 30 pounds of weight that has built up over the last 5 years.

I am generally a pretty selfish guy (if you hadn’t noticed by now) and I have come to realize in the last three years of parenting how precious time is . . . better put, how precious MY time is.  When the stars align and I have a moment of quiet time all I want to do is sip on a root beer, crack open a bag of chips and watch re-runs of the Office . . . its my way of feeling sorry for myself because I am such an amazing dad!

What Really Happened Over the Last 5 Years

As mentioned above we have moved a lot and done a lot over the last few years. I have used the choices I have made as excuses for failure in other areas of life rather than realigning my priorities or fessing up to my failures.

I chose to attend school, I chose to work nights, I chose to eat at McDonalds, I chose to start businesses . . . etc. the list goes on and on.  Rather than accept my choices and organize my life accordingly I have used my kids as scapegoats for my shortcomings.

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In the same amount of time as it has taken me to gain 30 pounds, Sandi has run two marathons . . . and had two babies. She is just 5 pounds away from her pre marriage weight.

The moment I made the decision to stop working out, the past 5 years where already decided.  That ONE day that I didn’t go jogging for whatever reason – – – my destiny was decided.  A new habit had been created and I had erased 26 years of good habits.

The day I decided to take Taz to McDonald’s for the first time I had made my decision that someone else was going to be responsible for feeding my kids.  Someone else was going to make nutrition decisions for my kids.  Why? Because I thought it would be easier.

I remember the first time I EVER felt fat.

It was at my corporate job (desk job) I was typing away on the computer and I felt my man boobs touch my stomach!  I couldn’t believe it.  Rather than use this as motivation to make drastic changes, I used it as a sign that “it was too late”.  I was now one of the “fat people” that I hated.  Getting back in shape was now out of my reach.  This was BEFORE we even had kids.  What I mean is, clearly my decision to be out of shape was independent of children.  I had already made that decision . . . having kids only gave me an excuse.

As a nurse who works nights I get to have breakfast and dinner with my kids 7 days a week.  Generally speaking I am pretty tired after an over night shift. But I have an amazing chance to be at every meal with my kids . . what habits and traits can I teach them?  I am there a minimum of 2 meals a day, 7 days a week.  Very few men have that advantage. I have 4 days off per week, I live across the street from an enormous park, I have a wife and children who love the outdoors . . . yet I am not working out.

What positive impact would doing short HITT workouts while my kids take naps make in my outlook on life and overall energy level?  What would the difference be if I ate healthy snacks rather than cokes and cookies while I was working?

Parenting does change the way in which you are able to use your time.  It does make an enormous difference in how much personal time you have.  But health is not simply how much time you spend running.  Health is a way of life.  It is not required that you be 4% body fat and run 200 miles a week to reap the benefits of working out.  Simply walking more, jogging around the block, telling Ronald McDonald to screw himself, or eating an apple are all healthy choices that will result in fantastic health changes of in turn improve my entire outlook on life.

The moment I fess up to MY failures and faults and stop blaming those who love me and look up to me (my kids), in that moment can I start making changes that will impact my life and my children’s lives.

What are my children feeling now whether consciously or subconsciously knowing that I am putting all the blame for my current health state on them?  No doubt they can feel my frustrations.  By removing that blame and placing it where it belongs I will create a more peaceful home and allow myself to begin living a healthy life again.

I don’t hate fat people.  I realize that we all struggle with different things.  I understand now more than ever the mental blocks to start the process of working out or eating right.  I know how it feels to know that you don’t love your body.

By alienating my family and blaming them for my choices I have driven a wedge, hidden or not, into the most precious relationships possible in life.  I am missing out on enjoying life to the fullest.

Moving forward life will be sweet.  Family will be cherished.  Health will be embraced.

Have you had an experience or paradigm shift that helped you change you health goals?  Share your thoughts below in the comments.

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May 14

8 Moms Who Run Marathons (they are pretty DAMN fast too)

There are a couple of things I am pretty sure I will never do in my life.

  1. Run a sub 3:00 marathon
  2. Have a baby

I am pretty confident the baby thing will never happen, unless Arnold Schwarzenegger was on to something in Junior.  I know I will never run a sub 3:00 marathon.  I have tried and my best was only a 3:24.  So my mind is always blown away by a mom who can run a marathon after having a baby.

So lets introduce our 8 Elite Marathon Moms.   To be completely honest, I have included a few triathletes in our list, but to be fair these moms not only run a marathon, but also swim 2 miles and bike 100 miles before the marathon, so I felt they more than qualified.

  1. Paula Radcliffe
  2. Kara Goucher
  3. Deena Kastor
  4. Jessica Jacobs
  5. Emma Gerrard
  6. Sara Gross
  7. Heather Gollnick
  8. Michelle Andres

Paula Radcliffe

2 Children, 2:15:38 Womens Marathon World Record Holder

CC Copyright fergie lancealot

CC Copyright fergie lancealot

Not only is Paula a mother of two children, but she holds the current world record in the marathon, is a 3 time London Marathon winner, 3 time New York Marathon winner (the year she had her baby, and the year after), and a one time Chicago Marathon winner.  She has also won countless awards and accolades for her running accomplishments.

Oh, and did I mention that she has asthma? Oh, and anemia.

Paula is truly an inspiration to mom and athletes everywhere. On training while pregnant Paula has said“The minute you find out you are pregnant, your priorities change, and of course I slowed down.  I ran for health and pleasure, not for competitive reasons”.    Of course just 12 days after having her baby she was back out training, but later admitted that 3 weeks may have been better.

She won the 2007 New York Marathon just 10 months after having her baby.

Never set limits, go after your dreams, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. And laugh a lot – it’s good for you!

Paula Radcliffe

CC Lisence Flickr user Alan Cordova

CC Lisence Flickr user Alan Cordova

Kara Goucher

1 child, 2008, 2012 Olympics, 3 Time NCAA Champion

Flicker User Stewart Dawson

Flicker User Stewart Dawson

Kara burst onto the marathon scene in 2008 by finishing 3rd at the Boston Marathon.  She gave birth to her son in 2010, in 2011 she placed 5th at the Boston Marathon with a time of 2:24:52 a PR by more than a minute and beating her 2009 (pre baby) Boston time by 7 1/2 minutes.  Shortly after that she was on her way to the 2012 London Olympics.

She has won many other races and events since having a child and has proven her strength as a runner in recent years.

Acknowledge all of your small victories. They will eventually add up to something great.

Kara Goucher

Deena Kastor

1 chlid, US Record holder in Marathon, Half-Marathon, 15k, 8k, 5k

Photo take by: Ambio

Photo take by: Ambio

Deena gave birth to her first child in February 2011, eleven months later she ran a 2:30:40 marathon to place 6th at the age of 39. Since then she has gone on to place 3rd at the LA Marathon and 9th at the world championships at the age of 40.

Deena is truly an athlete that takes excuses away from the regular folk like you and I.  Despite being a mother and “over the hill” she continues to compete on the world stage as an elite marathoner. In 2006 she was named the top womens marathoner in the world.

When you have the enthusiasm and the passion, you end up figuring how to excel.

Deena Kastor

 

Jessica Jacobs

1 child, 2012 Kona IronMan World Championships 26th place (11:38:39)

Jessica began racing triathlons in 2011 and quickly became hooked on the sport.  Despite a frustrating first  race she returned for more races and qualified for the 2012 IronMan World Championships where she placed 26.  In 2013 she completed 5 Half IronMan races (70.3) and 2 Full IronMan races never placing below 14th. Her IronMan PR is a stellar 8:55:10, good enough for a 1st place finish at the 2011 Florida IronMan. . . All this while raising a daughter!

Emma Garrard

1 child, Multiple top finished in XTERRA Championships and Winter Triathlon Championships

Emma is a serious competitor and a very busy woman. On top of training for XTERRA and Winter Triathlon races, she is a mom, a photographer, and she coaches various athletic programs. In 2011 alone, she ran 11 organized races. Most recently she placed 2nd in the 2014 XTERRA West Championships just weeks after being bedridden with sickness.  This was her best finish in a pro race. . . EVER. All this just months after having a baby.

She keeps a very fun and inspring blog at EMMAGARRARD.com outlining her workouts, family time, and races.  If you ever wanted to get an inside look at racing and training with kids, this is probably the best blog to read from a professional athlete.

Smart preparation in not-ideal circumstances can only get you far, good results also require consistent specific training.

Emma Garrard

Sara Gross

2 Chlidren, Professional Triathlete

In 2013 Sara completed 11 triathlon races, completing the Zurich Ironman in 9:55 and placing in the top 3 in 6 of those races.  Yes, that is with two children.  In 2011 she finished 2nd in the Calgary 70.3 just 7 months after having a baby.  Oh, did I mention she also hold a PhD from the University of Edinburgh.

When I get home from training I quickly shift from athlete-mode to mom-mode  . . .

I think that all women should get in the habit of taking care of themselves for at least an hour or two a day.

Sara Gross

As for working out while pregnant, Sara says that she averaged 1-1.5 hours of exercise a day.  Running until week 32, biking until week 37, and swimming up until the day before her baby was born.

Sara confesses that her training has changed since having children.  She no longer is able to plan her training as much as before and must work around her babies schedules. To follow Sara online visit her website at www.saragross.ca.

Heather Gollnick

3 Children, 5X Ironman Champion

Heather is 44 years old a mother of three children and has over 100 podium finishes as a professional triathlete.  In fact if you check out her website at HeatherGollnick.com you will see that those top finishes just keep rolling in at nearly every race she enters.

We had a third child and ever since it has been complete madness with my husband and I being out numbered. Training is not the number one thing but I can still get out there and mix it up and love it!

Also remember training will always be there, your little ones get so big so fast.

Heather Gollnick

Heather states that she has no intention of slowing down any time soon and loves the thrill of racing and competing on a professional level.  She is the author of Triathlon EQ which states that endurance sports are as much a test of emotional endurance as physical stamina.

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To top it all off, Heather also provides triathlon coaching and is a public speaker.  Find out more about her coaching here.

Michelle Andres

5 children, full time teacher, 3rd Age Group Finisher Kona Ironman Championships

Michelle is an example of a “regular” mom who set her mind on a goal and made it happen.  She has a full time job as a teacher, she is the mother of 5 children, yet she still finds time to train and compete on a very high level.  She is 36 years old and holds the Minnesota state record for the Ironman Triathlon.  Her Ironman time at Kona was 9:50 which was good enough to earn her the #3 spot in her age group. She did all of this with no coach and most of her training was done in her basement on a stationary bike and treadmill.

If its important to you, you’ll find a way, if its not important, you’ll find an excuse. We all have more time in our day than what we think, we just waste a lot of time on things that are not important.

Michelle Andres

She now has her sites set on qualifying for the Olympic trials in the marathon.

Are You a Marathon Mom?

While all of these women have amazing stories to share and have all accomplished a lot professionally in terms of running, they all say the same thing: running after having a baby is not easy, but with planning and determination it is doable.

You may not be trying to win a triathlon or qualify for the Olympic trials, but you can reach your goals with running and weight loss.  You can accomplish what you set your mind to.

Are you a mom who continues to run?  Do you have tips for running with children?  Share your thoughts below in the comments.

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