OUR LIFE IN 3D

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The Answer To My Prayers

A little while back, OK it was 2 years ago, I posed the question “What am I doing wrong”, as evidenced by my ever tighter belt line. I was trying to get me back in running shape, but was not having any luck, as far as loosening that same belt notch.

The opinion I need to stop finishing the kids plates at our meals was the overwhelming idea that I needed to incorporate. Thanks to everyone that offered their great ideas!

There is a part of me that is in complete agreement with that thought, especially when the kids are in their “not hungry” mode and the dish is one of my favs. Another part of me, the realist, says this solution just ain’t possible; for two reasons.

First, I’m a pig! I like to eat. I love to taste things. This is why my perfect vacation begins and ends at an ‘all-inclusive’ resort. I get my and my wife’s moneys worth!

Second, I was raised by depression-era parents. We just didn’t throw any food away when we ate. Everything was eaten. Common end-of-meal conversations included: “Some more potatoes here, who wants them?

I’m full!

I had seconds already.

Split them with you?

OK.

So, short-story long, there’s got to be another way. As much as I want, I can’t turn away from free food. It takes too much will-power! So I have to come up something else.

I need something that pushes you, is measurable, has benchmarks built in, is flexible enough to go at your own pace yet versatile enough to allow you to push yourself as fast as you want.

And that’s why God created treadmills!

That’s right. God answered the prayers of mine, and every other food lover out there. It s the perfect solution. You can train, tone, and condition on treadmills. Inside! (have you felt how cold it is outside?)

I have used treadmills to train for everything from 5K runs to ½ marathons. With all the adjustments available, your conditioning can get fairly, uh, mechanical.

All sorts of adjustments plus the ‘luxury’ of running inside

Now I am the first to say running on a treadmill is not the same as running outside. I have trained hard on treadmills but end up floundering in races if I didn’t also pound some pavements. But using treadmills can be analytical way to improve your health, conditioning, and training.

There are two fitness tips to consider when using treadmills if you are a runner or want to lose weight. First, if you want to get closer to resembling the resistance that there is running outside, turn the ‘Incline’ feature to 1.0 degrees. Its not the same but it will make running a tad harder. If you get used to it and want to improve, do your cardio at 1.5 incline.

Second, when you run to condition and lose weight, the rule of thumb in burning fat is that for the first 20 minutes you burn carbohydrate calories in your system. After the first 20 minutes you start to burn fat calories. This will vary by an individual’s conditioning of course. But, if you are looking to lose weight, pick a pace on a treadmill that allows you to raise your heartbeat for a good 30 minutes; and then stick with it.

Want to be a treadmill track star?

Some other advantages I have used in my running training include:

•    Never be satisfied, always work to exhaustion: I start on a treadmill to first catch my rhythm and get my breathing right. At that point I will increase the ’Pace’ feature one or two clicks every two minutes, or every song if you are running with headphones. This way you are always working hard to improve your speed, breathing, or thinking about what is going to be left on your kid’s plates at dinner later that night.
•    Challenge yourself. Make it a game: I use the calorie counter when I train. Not for a vain attempt to look at my waist results, but as a measure of how hard I exercise. Think about it… (Time running x Pace = Calories burned).

So if you run for 20 minutes or 30 or 45, find the amount of calories you burn each time you run this time amount. Use that calorie number as a benchmark. Then each time you run try to beat your personal best in ‘calories burned’ by turning up the pace and beating that benchmark. Make sense?

•    Build your endurance by running 5 minutes longer: If you want to burn more calories or train for a long run, have the goal each week of running 5 minutes longer at your normal pace by the end of the week. I do this when I train for 1/2 marathons. This week I want to run for 45 minutes. Next week for 50 minutes and so on until you reach your goal.

•    Increase your speed by hiking up the incline: Lots of runners try to increase their speed by strengthening their legs. They do this by running hills, bridges and bleachers. You can do this by slowly raising the incline. Be realistic when you do this so you don’t injure yourself. Usually a 5% incline is the most you should run at. It burns!

•    Race yourself if you have a limited amount of time: If time is not on your side in your busy day find a distance that works in your time frame and then race to see how fast you can get there. Or race to see how far you can go in your 15 or 20 minute lunch break. And then try to beat your record each time. You get a good workout and on your way as fast as possible.

These are just some of the ways you can use treadmills to accomplish your fitness goals. You might have some games of your own. Have fun and be fit.

I highly recommend always, always, always try to eat some protein within the first hour after you run, around 20 grams, if you want to run faster, longer, or burn more calories the next time you run. You just tore your muscles down, so build ‘em up with some protein.

One final trick I use to keep protein in my body and my metabolism up is eating a few protein or energy bars through the course of the day. There are a wide variety of these found at your local target. Check out their protein levels as well as their fat levels then chose the ones for you.

Good luck in your fitness quests for the new year!

What other running tips or games do you use?

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