Jul 12

12 Amazing Vacation Spots for Runners (how many have you ran?)

Planning a family vacation this summer?  Don’t let that stop you from getting a stellar family workout, hike, jog, or picture.  Here are our choices for the top 12 running trails you should visit as a family during your summer vacation!

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1. McKenzie River Trail – Eugene, OR

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A fun place for the kids to hike with bridges winding paths and plenty of hiking, biking, and running trails.

2. Appalachian Trail – Georgia

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With 2,179 mils of trail you will have an easy time finding a great place to run here.

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3. Kalalau Trail – Kauai, Hawaii

11 miles of picture perfect beach running.

4. Poison Spider Mesa – Moab Utah

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11 miles of picture perfect beach running.

4. Poison Spider Mesa – Moab Utah

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A beautiful 13 mile loop for the more adventurous family.

5. Tahoe Rim Trail – Incline Village, Nevada

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165 mile trail with beautiful views of Lake Tahoe.

6. Alafia River State Park – Brandon, Florida

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Creek crossings, ponds, swamps, and more!  A fun adventure for families.

7. Ice Age National Scenic Trail – LaGrange, Wisconsin

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Green pastures and rolling hills covering a total of 1,200 miles.

8. Palo Duro Canyon State Park – Canyon Texas

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120 miles long and 800 feet deep, this is the second largest canyon next in the US to the Grand Canyon. A fun and challenging place to run.

9. Shut – In Trail – Asheville North Carolina

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18 mile trail with a challenging 3000 foot climb.

10. John Muir Wilderness – Bishop California

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212 mile trail with inspiring views of mountains, trees, valleys, lakes, and rivers.

11. Central Park – New York, New York

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With miles of trails a great place to enjoy city and fitness.

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12. Golden Gate Park – San Francisco, CA

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With so much to see and do this makes the perfect destination for families.

Do you have a favorite running destination we didn’t include?  Share it below!

Image Credits: apsbikerNicholas A. TonelliBrianRob HyndmanJeff MoserLuke LienauElliott Blackburnk.steudelmlhradioAnh DinhJim Trodel

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Jul 08

15 CRAZY Things Runners Say When They Talk to Themselves During Races

Runners are kinda strange people.  I can say that. . . I’m a runner.

We talk to ourselves.  I mean what else are we supposed to do during a 3, 4, or 5 hour race.

Here are the top 15 crazy things we say when we talk to ourselves during races.  Did I miss one? Share it below in the comments.

1. Seriously . . How the Hell is HE Passing Me?

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2. Smashing Water Cups Feels Pretty Bitchn’

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3. Yeah, I Should Have Worn the Band-Aids

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4. These Dumb Things Only Hold Like 1oz of Water . . . Now I Have to Carry This Belt for 24 More Miles

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5. I Paid HOW MUCH for This?

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6. Chicks Dig Marathoner

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7. Yeah . . . But I DO Get The FREE Shirt Right?

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8. The Race STARTS at Mile 20

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9. Dang . . .Everyone Else Is Wearing a Watch . . . Just Look at Wrist and Act Like I’m Pushing Buttons

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10. Maybe I Should Buy Shorter Shorts

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11. Hmm . . . Guess I Should Have Gotten Here Earlier

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12. Crap . . . I Should Have Used the Porta Potty 3 Miles Back

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13. So THIS Is “The Runners High”

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14. The Medal Better Be HUGE . . and My Friends Better be Jealous

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15. NEXT DAY: “Why Am I Signing Up For Another Race?”

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Did you enjoy this article?  Why not share it?

Did I miss something?  Share it in the comments below.

Photo Credits: Stephen Matthews, Alan StrakeysamwebsterRennett StoweZervasJeff MoriartyEdwin MartinezBrett WhaleyDamian, Nathan RupertTony AlterChris BarberMorten Siebuhr

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Jul 07

5 Tips for Finding the PERFECT Running Partner

For those runners who like running with a buddy  . . . you know how hard it can be to find the right running partner.

They are either too slow, too fast, not motivated enough, TOO motivated . . . or you just don’t get along.

I have always enjoyed running alone but Sandi kinda thrives on running with a partner.  When we first started dating we began to run together  . . . but this presented a big challange for us.

I was running an 18 minute 5k and Sandi was running over 30 minutes.    We had to get creative about running together and eventually more creative to help Sandi find running partners that were a perfect fit.

5 Surefire Places to Find a Running Partner

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  1. Meetup.com: Yes Yes . . . I know it sounds like a place for singles to meet and hang out, but Meetup is actually far different than that.  It is a place for people to post conferences, get together, and social gatherings for individuals with similar interests. Using this tool I was able to find over a dozen running or triathlon groups within 10 miles of my house.  There is a simple search function on the site and once you find a group you are interested in it is easy to learn more details about the group or to learn about upcoming meetings or runs.
  2. Facebook: Midst 374 invitations to play Candy Crush, and updates about all your friends babies . . . Facebook can actually be a productivity tool as well believe it or not.  With Facebook you can easily find out who of your local friends are runners . . . you can post on your page that you are looking for a running buddy and within no time you will have a partner.  You can also find virtual running groups where you can post your workouts and find motivation from your buddies.   BY using the search box and simply typing in “Running Group” you will be able to find events, groups, pages, and more that will guide you in the right direction.Screenshot-2014-07-07-16.32.26-e1404768953401
  3. Running Clubs:  RRCA or Road Runners Clubs of America is the top resource for finding a local running club near you.  Simply go to their site here click on your state and viola you will have a nice list of various running clubs in your area.  Generally these groups have free events you can attend to meet other runners and find a few that are about your pace.  Once you have a nice little buddy or group that run your pace you can plan training runs with them aside form the running group.  Its a great way to find a partner and friends that share your love for running.Screenshot-2014-07-07-16.38.31-e1404769455306
  4. Mans Best Friend: yes, a dog can be the perfect running partner . . . they won’t complain, they will always be ready on time, weather won’t stop them from going . . . and they will love you for taking them.  You don’t even need a HUGE dog to do this.  We had a little 10 pound yorkie a few years ago that was able to outrun me in a 5k.  With a bit of practice if a small lazy dog can enjoy running with you.  Researchers from University of Michigan found that on average dog owners are nearly twice as active and healthy as non dog owners: “Nearly half of dog walkers exercised an average of 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. By comparison, only about a third of those without dogs got that much regular exercise”. New York Times
  5. The Track: Most towns have a High School or Middle school track with a nice field, track, and bleachers to do your workout on.  The benefit of running on a track is that running partners of different skill and speed levels can workout together.  We have a FREE GUIDE to Bleacher Workouts that you can download HERE

Finding a Track to Run On 

While it is hard to find a complete and accurate list of all school that have a track open to the public . . this tool here is great for finding local schools.  You an then either drive by or call them to determine if their track is open for use.

Likewise you can make a phone call to your local school district and ask if or when school tracks are open for use.

High School Finder

Screenshot-2014-07-07-17.15.12-e1404771557312They do “ask” for a lot of information on this tool but if you just put in Zip Code and distance you will get a result.

A huge benefit to track workouts is that you will generally find several other people out there running on the track each night.  Makes a great way to build accountability, friendships as you meet local runners, and a chance to find a running partner.

3 Benefits to Running with a Partner

Motivation:

In a recent study at the University of Santa Clara, researchers found that:

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

 

 

So if you are wanting to AMP up your workouts . . find someone who is at an intensity and commitment level above yours.  This individual will lift your behavior and aid in elevating your workouts as you mimic their intensity.

Entertainment:

I don’t generally like working out with others . . . but when I do it is primarily for entertainment purposes.  Having a partner is a great way to break up the mundane miles and hours of running.   Even just jogging with your kids can help with this.

Every now and then it is good to get out of your own head and just talk with a friend.

Accountability:

Being open with another individual (friend, family, child) can help to create accountability.  Letting someone else know about your goals and asking for them to follow up will get you out the door on slow days.

Conclusion

By following these simple tips you will find yourself a workout partner in no time.  Do you have a partner that keeps you going? How did you find your workout buddy?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credits:  Thang Nuyguen, sangudo
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Jul 02

10 Grossest Things about Running (that no one tells you about)

1. Porta-Potty Paradise

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Pre-race lines for porta potties would make you think these little green toilets are gold lined and have silk toilet paper. If you want to go potty before a race you better plan on arriving to a race about 6 hours early to claim your spot in line.

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2. Running Red (chaffing, diaper rash, jock itch)

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I thought diaper rash was for babies?  After my first marathon I couldn’t figure out what was happening to me . . . then I discovered the miracle of Vaseline and Destine. Runners love to slather this goop on like there is no tomorrow.

3. Medals of Honor (massive post race blistering)

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If you have ever spent time with a marathoner, the topic of blisters has come up.  But we don’t just talk about them . . . we compare.  The winner is the idiot who had the biggest blister . . . P.S. I beat my wife!

4. Um . . . . bleeding nipples

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Ever see a guy run his first marathon. He is easy to spot. He will be the one with blood gushing down his shirt where his nipples used to be.

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5. Marathon Pedicure (toenails falling off)

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A runners favorite nail polish color is black and blue . . . then its no nail!  Don’t worry they do grow back.

6. Snot Rockets (who needs Kleenex)

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We have learned to master the art of shooting snot from our noses.  One of the joys of running is watching the newbie learn the skill.

7. Nectar of the Gods (GU energy gel)

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What could be more delicious than nectar thick carbohydrates in the flavor of “cardboard and sandpaper”.  These little packets of joy are perfect for making it impossible to swallow or talk for the next 3 miles.

8. Who needs Porta-Potties (yeah . . . we pee our pants a little bit)

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Where else can adults pee their pants and no one points and laughs.  All in the name of shaving 20 seconds off the time my friend!

9. Runners Trots ( . . . and sometimes we poop a little bit too)

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So . . . I guess a few people didn’t arrive in time to wait in the 6 hour porta potty lines!!!

10. Dehydration . . . Overhydration . . . Heat Stroke

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You will either drink to little, drink to much, or run when its way to damn hot!  No worries . . . it will make a sweet story on your next training run!

Like this post?  How about sharing it with a fellow runner …

Image Credits:

Michael (a.k.a. moik) McCuldirvishCasey HelblingAndy CarvinDave HerholzThreeIfByBikeJohn Rees– EMR –GuyChristiana Care

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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.

5 TIPS FOR MASTERING THE FAMILY WALK

  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.

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Jun 26

READER SUBMISSION: Fit Mama (mother of 2, date night workouts & family runs)

reader-submission-Jennifer-300x187Before I give the floor to Jennifer let me just say that her story is truly inspiring!  We met Jennifer and her husband a few years ago while living in Houston.  They had just had their first baby (we were still baby-less) but they were always inviting us out to do fun and active dates.  They are an awesome and active couple and continue that now with two kids.

Jennifer just ran a half marathon in 1:45 and get this . . . she had never run more than a mile just 1 year ago!

Would you like to share your story to inspire other?  Just contact us here: contact @ simplefamilyfitness.com

Okay take it away Jennifer:

Briefly introduce yourself? Name, age, athletic or workout history (have you always enjoyed working out)

I’m Jennifer. I am 27 today! (Happy BDay Jen!) I have typically been active my whole life. I never played any serious sports, but I did participate in Dance Company, Ballroom, and Cheer in High School. In college I focused on Cheer for a while and then mainly on competitive ballroom with my now husband, Christopher. I have always enjoyed working out or at least feeling semi- in shape but I’ve never been a crazy fanatic or motivated enough to wake up at 5 am. I also never ran more than 1 mile before April of 2013.

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

I have 2 kids, a girl (age 3) and a boy (age 2)

 

What is your latest athletic achievement or latest race etc .  .  . ?  What is your next goal or race that you would like to complete?

My latest race was the American Fork Canyon Half Marathon in Utah. I ran it in 1:45 which beat my goal of making it in under 2 hours. My next goal/race is the Spudman Triathlon in Burley ID in July.

 

Do you run or workout with your kids? If so, how do you keep them entertained while you workout? If not, what do you do with them during your workouts?

 

I definitely work out with my kids! In the winter, they are climbing on top of me while I do pushups and crawling under ‘the bridge’ while I’m in downward dog.  In the winter I work- out indoors a lot. I bike on my stationary bike during naps and pass the time with some guilty pleasure Netflix shows. I also love P90X and Insanity.

Once summer hits though, I move outside. I pull my kids in a bike trailer, or push them for a run. If I need to do a workout without them I get up early and do it before my Husband has to leave, or we get a babysitter and do a workout together and call it a date.

I often run to a park/splash pad, let the kids play for a while and then run home after. It makes it easier to do a longer run pushing 2 heavy kids in a stroller, and they enjoy it more too.

 

Does your spouse workout with you as well?  If so how do you plan workouts that you can do together?

He does. Maybe not as much as I do right now but he’s getting there. We try to work out together. We aren’t so much at the same pace in most physical activities but we make it work. We like to have date night workout sessions! Or morning family runs.

 Do you generally workout alone or do you have a group of other families or parents that workout with you?

I try to find friends to work out with. I’ve found a few to run with and different friends to bike with.. still trying to find a swimming buddy.  Working out is always better with friends! If not though, I just turn on some good tunes or my favorite is listening to podcasts.

Do you have a cute or inspiring story of your children noticing you working out or trying to emulate you working out?

 

Yes! My oldest, will periodically put on her work out clothes and insist she needs to ‘go for a run’ She loves to do yoga poses with me, or as displayed below, ‘turn on the work out video mom, I’m ready to work out.’

Both of them love to copy whatever I’m doing. Namely pushups. They try really hard to figure those out!

What has been the biggest challenge to getting or staying in shape with kids and a family?

I suffer from Hyperemisis Gravidarum (HG) during pregnancy. Its a pregnancy condition in which. if not for medical help and interventions ( home IV”s, Zofran Pumps, PICC lines etc) I would die. It sounds dramatic, but I’m serious. It’s horrible and I am basically on deaths door for 9 months. Then after a very long recovery and all while trying to nurse (which I typically do for at least a year), I don’t typically get back into the swing of things until about 10 months post partum. But after a year and a half of being basically inactive, it is like starting all over again. Its hard and takes time and a lot of motivation.

 

What tips do you have for other parents just starting out trying to workout with a family?

 

Keep at it! Like I said, I never ran more than 1 mile before I had both of my kids. It was SO hard to start running, especially when pushing them. They aren’t light! Every time it gets a little easier, and even a short 2 mile run with your kids is GREAT! Invest in a gym if you don’t want to have your kids around, and drop them off at the daycare! Or invest in good equipment, a jogging stoller/bike trailer etc and go exploring together!

Either way, just keep active. You might feel tired at first, but eventually you will feel energized and your body will crave it!

 

Lastly, do you have a favorite recipe, nutrition, or workout tip that you would like to share with others?

 

Most recently I read ‘It Starts With Food’ and I liked a lot of the points in it. My main efforts have been to increase my vegetable intake. I have always had a hard time with veggies and I really want to instill a love for them in my kids! Eat veggies for breakfast! It might feel weird at first but you will feel more energy and it will help in pointing your day toward better dietary choices.

Wanna give Jennifer some kudos?  Share your thoughts below!

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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).

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

Sources:

  • 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!

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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.”

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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).

Example

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.”

 

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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

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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.

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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 \/\/\/\/\/\/

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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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