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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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 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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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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