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When cheaper may not necessarily be better….

A little posting primer- http://www2.tbo.com/lifestyles/health-4-you/2012/jun/19/7/report-la-fitness-to-purchase-lifestyle-family-fit-ar-417832/

Im kind of torn. I recently found out  that my gym Lifestyle Family Fitness was purchased by the Megagym La Fitness. I love my gym and my workouts there are a big part of the reason that my running has improved, that many PR’s have fallen, and that I am a stronger, fitter, runner than I was when I started my running journey last year.

At first I found this move to be surprising simply because I had never in and of itself considered LFF a “smaller gym”. The club I train/exercise in is located in Lutz (Fla) and is fairly new  with state of the art facilities. They have a lot of other locations of varying qualities throughout the area.  On a local level LFF is a big name and although I kind of new they were not huge nationally (non-existent practically) I figured they were just a big money regional chain. Long story short, I admit to not realizing that LA Fitness is a monster compared to it.  A ginormous national chain.

I enjoy my current gym and it the programs it offers, do I really want to change that?

My next reaction was to go with the mood of the many talented fitness instructors who currently work at my gym. They hate the switch, are scared by it, and many are directly opposed to it. With good reason too. LFF uses Les Mills Style Fitness Classes (Rpm or Spin, Body Pump, CX Worx) which they are trained on, and have really absorbed and developed into a solid fitness system. LA Fitness refuses to use Les Mills programs. This worries me, because I am a big fan of these programs for a list of reasons

Less Mills programs are consistent and effective. I would not have become a strong runner without them.

1) Consistency– No matter what time or what club location you take your RPM or Pump class it is basically the same. The guideline of the workout is set and you determine your level of involvement. You know an rpm class is going to be 45 minutes of hard work featuring 3 incredibly difficult heavy working tracks. You know its going to be a great interval workout. It doesnt matter if you take the class at 6 pm in Brandon or at 5:45 am in Lutz. It is the same workout guideline. Same goes for any class. Body Pump is going to be a full body, muscle group by muscle group workout. A body pump instructor cant just decide to leave out muscle groups. That isnt how the class works. Everyone is on the same page, everyone knows the rules. The workout level is on you.

2) Continuity- Les Mills classes work in conunction with each other. Body Pump/Spin are a popular pairing at my gym as as Body Pump/Body Combat. I enjoy RPM +, Pump, and CX Worx as a mega cross training workout on Saturdays. It hits my whole body, gets my corss training in, and Im done in 2:30. Guaranteed every saturday. Also, the same basic premise meets all the classes. A warmup, several tracks of varying intensity/purpose and a cool down. You can try something new and basically come in with a understanding of what will be going on.

3) Results- Stick with the classes consistently, and increase the intensity of your workouts within the guideliens and you will see results. RPM was big in the final weight loss that put in my running shape. Pump and Cx Worx have most certainly helped me lean out and make me a stronger runner.  I know people their who have gotten great results from the intense cardio workout of Bodycombat. It pays off.

4) Development- While these classes seem formulaic, the opportunity to progress is there. On your own, you can find ways to increase the intensity of all your workouts. Within the program they are constantly tinkering with new moves, new arrangements, new music, and other ways to keep you fit.

5) Instructors- I have been fortunate. I have passionate, engaging, and talented instructors. They have taken the Less Mills Formats and run with it, and inspired me to great results.

LA Fitnesses offers their own program for sure, but will they match the approach seen here? Seems like it will be hit or miss. Get a great instructor one day and you will have a great class, get a an unispired one and you will have an “eh” workout. Im usually a person who likes individuality and variety in all things. In this case, I prefer the consistency of the LES Mills approach. In this case the one size fits all kind of does it to me. Im regimented about my workouts and I dont want them to be wasted by poor class structure, inconsistent  teacher performance, or junk classes.  In short -to me- loss of Les Mills classes represents a huge loss.

LA is a huge uber gym that would doubtless have all the equipment I need, but can that make up for what I will lose?

So what do I get in return? Access to bigger LA Fitness clubs with courts and pools is certainly cool. However the biggest difference is price. My membership at LFF costs $50 a month with spin classes and all club access. I count it as a valuable fee every month. LA will be cheaper. From all the research I have done, and all the people I have talked to the LA membership is in fact- far cheaper. Like anywhere between S25-40 for the same services I get at LFF right now. No extra for group classes like I currently pay. That much cheaper a month is eye raising to me. Its money to put into my running or my waning social life. It is money I may need for a new pair of shoes or to cover my never ending variety of “Random annoying s***” that happens ” problems.

Is it worth it though? Lots to consider. Is it worth many of my fitness instructors departing? Is it worth the outside chance that one of the clubs I use being shut down? Is it worth dealing with the hassle of a big switch? On one hand I like my routine. I like the way my fitness is headed right now. I like that my gym is helping me become a much better runner/athlete. I enjoy the programs that LFF currently has thoroughly. I dont like messing with productive consistency. But, well, 15 bucks a month is 15 bucks a month? So- Is it worth it? I honestly dont know.  I love what I have now, but close minded negativity is stupidity. Especially when it comes to money. We will see

LA’s big advantage is that is cheaper, beyond that I will reman a healthy skeptic about what is going on.

According to most sources it will be thirty days or so before anything significant changes anyway. This gives me time to chew on it and focus on my July 4th race where I am aching to smash my 10k PR.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy  Your Workout. Enjoy Your Day :0

Wish List Wednesday… I wish I had time/money for my 2 passions

This week’s wish has me pondering the difficulty I am having choosing between my 2 active passions. I honestly wish I had the time and the money to be committed to both capoeira and running, but I dont. In this time of transition and progress in my life, things I love have to be sacrificed.

I wish I had the time/money for my 2 passions

I wish I had the time/money to be dedicated to both running and capoeira

Set up- Capoeira in My Life

Im not the greatest capoeiraista in the world. In fact, im barely passable at it, but I love the art, the action, the music, etc. In its most pure form it remains one of the most beautiful things in the world to watch.  I used to kill at capoeira. I mean I was the it guy ads far as training hard and often. 5, 6 days a week and 2 times a day over the summers at my peak. If their was a capoeira road trip, I was there. If we had a presentation, I would leave work early and go without dinner and be there. If there was a workshop an hour away, I would find away to be there.

Capoeira took me places- Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, and the time of my life in Brazil. Capoeira- took ME places- increased my physical fitness, built my self confidence, opened my eyes to a whole new world of people, gave me friends, and a home away from home.

Good times in New Orleans with some capoeira peeps. One of the many great experiences this wonderful art has given me

I have been training capoeira for 4 years. For those 4 years it has been the major player, the major direction in my life. It was both escape and fun, adventure and diligence. It just isnt anymore. Why? Why has it shifted?

1.  Closing of the Original Academy– New one is nice- but with less classes, incovneinet times, and a longer distance – it just doesnt work for me. Its just not the same. That old place I put blood, sweat and tears into. This place has no significance to me

2. Vanishing Friends– All the people I came up with and started out training with have moved or moved on. I miss them and the newbies continue to come and go

3. Multiple Directions– Work got more intense this year, possibly moving, running, trying to develop a personal/social life leaves a diminishing amount of time and money for capoeira

4.  Opened Eyes– Capoeira took me completely out of my shell. It spurred the urge for discovery of new things, new experiences, and a wider world. Sometimes that interferes with the capoeira grind.

5. Running-. When my fitness level plateaued after a few years of capoeira and I got in a bad habit of binge eating I put on several unwanted pounds. I knew I needed to amp up my fitness level significantly since we were not going that intensely at the moment inside the academy. I started to work the elliptical, lift weights, spin, and most importantly run. Running eventually took over. Capoeira two  a days became running two-days. Time I would spend learning capoeira songs, became time spent reading reading running blogs and Runners Worlds. Big purchases became more focused on races and running gear and not on capoeira trips. I used to know when all the capoeira events were, and who was going but that information got substituted for race calendars. Stories about great training sessions became stories about hitting great runs.

I still train capoeira, and I still love it but my devotion to it has diminished. There just isnt enough time and money for both. Im down to once maybe twice a week. Sometimes when I train it is with nagging soreness and minor injuries from running and other exercise as well. I wish I had time for both passions, but it doesnt work in any reality. More and more I am having to chose between him.

Regular training at the old academy, I spent so much time in that place it was remarkable. Good memories

The Ideal Wish-  Time for both

That capoeira was more convenient so I didnt have to give it up. That the academy was closer so it didnt kill me in gas to get there. That there were classes on the weekends, or at closer locations;  so I could go train and keep running. That I had the money to pop down to St. Pete or Srasota every now and again and train capoeira down there. Or that the group would focus more of its events in Tampa closer to where I live so I can be more involved. That capoeira would be there when I head up to Tallahassee in August. That I could find a healthy and natural balance between 2 amazing physical activities that I find resonance and enjoyment in.

Getting ready to play for my 4th cord at a capoeira batizado. A day after this I pr-ed in a half marathon in Tampa with a time of 1:36. I was incredibly proud of both. Equally proud.

The Reality- A decreasing role

Capoeira increasingly plays a diminshed role in my life. At the most I can get down to class twice a week on a good week. The academy is just too far away, and the classes fall on nights that no longer work for me. There is just too much else in my life I need to put my energies in. That includes running. I have distinct running goals that I want to achieve, and at the moment they supersede the vague capoeira goals I have.

Additionally, most of the event side of the group has shifted itself down to Sarasota and St. Pete. This could make for 1 hr, 1 and half hour drives on a car with 145,000 miles on it. I cant justify it to myself when I need to be careful about my expenses.

For as much as it is difficult to improve as a runner without spending money and investing in it, there is  simplicity to it. All I have to do to improve my running is put on my shoes and step outdoors. It isnt that simple in capoeira. You have to take trips, pay for classes, go to workshops, and travel all over. I can train by myself in my house, but it just isnt capoeira if I am by myself. You need a teacher and a group. That is the way it works. Running can be as solitary or as social as you like. Capoeira has to be social and interactive. That is a huge part of the reason I love it.

When I end up at grad school at FSU it wont get any better either. Our group had an academy up there but the teacher left, and I have been told there is no capoeira up there. To be honest, I have no idea how much time/money I will have anyway to dive back into being a full training capoeiraista. My guess is not that much. Especially since I still want to continue running and getting better as a runner.

A sloppy armada, because I am leaning back and wont land in a solid base. Easier to diagnose poor capoeira form in a picture, than poor running form in a picture

The Possible- Down the road

Even if capoeira disappears from my life for 3 years when I am studying up in Tally, it will not be the end of me as a capoeiraista. Once you are “baptized”, your one for life. Once it gets into your blood, your hooked. In that sense to me it is like running. Ever since I considered myself a runner, I feel like i will be a runner for life. At this moment, capoeira is slowing down to a pause and running is taking front and center position. Both capoeira and running are journeys, and wherever I land after getting my degree will have capoeira. And I will be training. And running. And training. And Running. And finding that balance.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

A Huge Runcheap Weekend Thank You To… My Cats

During my SLR of 15 miles, I crossed paths with yet another runner accompanied by a faithful dog and it made me think of this posting, and my 2 pals back at home. Namely, my 2 cats Denny and Morgan. So this weekend’s thank you goes out to my two Tabby buddies and all the ways they enhance my running and my life

Thank you cats!

Thank you Denny! Thank you Morgan!

Thank you for being there to be lazy with after my runs!

Thank you for helping me relax after a hard workout!

Everyone loves to think of the dog as the ideal pet for runners. They are athletic, faithful, love the outdoors land like a good amount of exercise in many cases. There are no shortage of articles out there on active and other sites about running with dogs and all the benefits for both parties. I love dogs, I really do. I just dont want to take care of one. Besides, the perfect running pet for me is the cat.

I rescued Morgan from underneath a portable near my school. I figured she would be a companion to my original cat. Happy and docile, she oddly likes to sleep on any workout clothing I might leave out

No, I dont strap a leash on my cat and take them out with me for my recovery runs or slow jogs. No I dont run stairs with them in my house. And no, I dont have some weird backpack that allows them to come with me on my running adventures. Lets just get all that out of the way first. Cats are the perfect running pet for me for other reasons.

When I run, I like to run alone or if possible with a really good friend. As much as I want to get other people into running, I dont want them messing with my workout. I also dont want to accept any responsibility for theirs or their condition. That may be rude or selfish but I get that way when I run. A dog would take all of those factors and multiply them times 20. Not to mention the host of other issues it creates. I dont need a pet for a companion on a run and I dont want one. I want a pet to chill with me when Im done. Nothing like a cat for that.

My original cat-Denny. Super friendly, shy around women like me, and complete pal to me during all times. I knew he was right for me the moment I held him at SPCA

Nothing like coming home from a 15+ mile run on Sunday, all sweaty and gross and crashing right on the couch (when you know you should be in the shower).  Then one cat climbs right on top of me and kneads into my side- a lovely massage- and then purrs contently while I doze. The other one sniffs around my face and then passes out right next to me. Running is hard work and when Im done I want to be lazy. Cats love to be lazy. They just want to sleep, eat and relax most of the day. Guess what? After a day of hard running and exercise- so do I.

Cats help my running out in other ways to. Need to pop out for an extra run? No worries, I dont have to take my animal for a walk. When Im up and at’em at 5 am in the morning for my pre dawn run, I see the glossed look of my neighbors taking their dogs out for a walk. I dont have that problem. My cats are contently asleep inside. They give me that freedom to run whenever I want. When you need to find the cheapest ways/times to get your run in,  this is very helpful.

Cats are so low maintenance, they give me the freedom to run whenever I want to without worrying

Or maybe I want to head out to a race and its an overnight or a long ways away? I dont need to get someone to watch my cat. I can be on my way, worry free and knowing that Denny and Morgan will be there waiting to unwind when I get home. Knowing that they can take care of themselves for a little bit. Knowing that while they enjoy being my pals, they dont seem to resent the time I spend away from home.

My cats are reliable. They are playful. They are loyal. They are easy. They are simple to take care of. They make my life fairly basic. They really arent that expensive. They are 2 wonderful creatures, who provide me with companionship and affection that are sorely lacking in my life. Yet, they dont prevent me from being an active runner. In fact they make me want to run harder so I can enjoy the lazy time with them even more.

I have a lot of post run favorites- a soothing hot shower, a good home cooked meal, a glass of cold milk, slipping on my pair of flip flops, etc. On the top of that list is sitting there watching dvred Jeopardy or whatever with either Denny or Morgan curled on my lap purring contentedly. I know that is a random thing, but I count it among the true pleasures of my running life. That warm feeling keeps me running strong all the time. So a big thank you to my 2 furry feline pals and all the ways they help my running and my life.

I love vegging out with the cats following a hard workout, it is such a contented feeling

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

Wish List Wednesday- Im wishing I could run a history themed race….

This week’s Wish List Wednesday finds me dealing with history and races. Let us clarify first, there is a difference between historical races and history themed raced. Well, at least there is in my mind. A historical race is a classic race that has been put on for decades like the Boston Marathon or even most Turkey Trots. A history themed race is a race that bases itself around an historical event/person/ location like for instance the Pike’s Peak Marathon in Colorado or the Lewis and Clark Half Marathon. It is the historically themed races that the history nerd in me wants to badly get a chance to run.

I wish….. I could run a history themed race!

Set Up- Geeked out for History

Im kind of happily saturated with history these days, between watching the “Hatfields and Mccoys” on the History Channel and my near 3 hour visit to the Tampa History Musuem. Plus I have always been something of a history geek. When I went to college I planned to study history before I was carefully guided into teaching. This did not stop my enjoyment reading druing those days from being books about historical events and happenings like the Battle of Cowpens, War of 1812, and Verdun during WWI. History has always been a central part of my intellectual life and I would love to be able to coalesce that with my love of running.

This beautiful new history center in donwtown Tampa had me longing for a history themed race in the area

In Runners World I have read of several historical races.  Ones that take place across the historic battlefields of Gettysburg and Antietam, or on the trails once used by the “Swamp Fox” Frances Marion for hit and run assaults on British forces in the south.  There is the Battle of Bunker Hill Road Race up in Boston or the Richmond Ukrop 10k along historic monument avenue. Longer races that fit this description might include the Marine Core Marathon or the JFK50 MIler. These are just the ones I know of, but I would be willing to bet if you searched around more online you could compile quite a list. It might make for an interesting website idea. So why cannot I do one?

The Battle of Antietam was a landmark violent battle in the Civil War and every year they do a road race through the national park that now celebrates its history

Well for one reason, I dont think Tampa really celebrates their history. At their history museum the other day I was dazzled and amazed by the level of history pertinent in the area. I was also disturbed that I had lived here for 10 years, actively sought out culture and had found very little. This town has tons of it but does a very odd job of inculcating it from mainstream life so that it is hard to find. Therefore, while Tampa has a ton of races that celebrate the different areas of a widespread variety of communities, it doesnt really emphasize any truly historical themed runs that I have seen.  I would love to run something that commemorates the rich history of the area. Is there one I am missing? Or iss this something I just cant get to until I leave the area permanently since road trips are out of the question .

The Ideal Wish- A city rich in history themed possibilites

That Tampa would have a race to celebrate the copious culture and history. Perhaps something related to the Roughriders and the Spanish American War or something related to the Seminole raid on Captain Dade’s March. Maybe a Cigar City Half Marathon or something celebrating Tampa’s rich connection to shipping and ports. I dont know, people who are for me creative than me could surely develop something. I would run it, I would love to run it. I would love to run a a race that celebrated the history of a town I have lived in for 10 years and may be leaving shortly. I wish they had one so much, that I would come back for it at some cost.

Ybor City, just a short trolley ride away from downtown Tampa, was a famous cigar rolling center between 1880-1920. A history themed race through this area could be fascinating

The Reality- Am I missing it?

I dont think one in Tampa exists. The races in this area tend to take on other themes. They celebrate the areas vast connections with nature as well as its many different runnable areas. Clearwater, St Pete, Bayshore, Temple Terrace, Tarpon, New Tampa are all great places to run and loaded with races. Miles upon miles of run friendly roads and trails only enhance this. Aside from the heat, Tampa’s spread out setting and its flat landscape make it an ideal runners town. The history dork in me would just love it if there are one or two history themed races out there, so that I wouldnt have to find one elsewhere. Especially since I cant really afford to find one in another location at the moment

Bayshore is an amazing place to run, and many road races cover it. It seems to be Tampa’s tradition to celebrate its locational beauty as opposed to its history

The Possible- Down the Line

I have not looked at races up in Tally but Im willing to be that their are one or 2 up there which will fit my history themed needs. Tally has an odd mix of culture and history especially in relation to the Seminole Indians.  I also have friends in different parts of the country and at some point in my life I could link up a trip to visit friends in Virginia with a race in Bull Run or a friend in Pennsylvania with the Gettysburg race. I just have to keep a list of this races handy in case the opportunity arises.

Their were 2 battles of Bull Run, which is probably why they can celebrate the history with an ultra sized 50 mo miler. Yikes, but I would train up and try it if I lived in the area

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

This Weekend’s Huge Runcheap Thank You To…. The PUB RUN

Pub Run’s are something that I have often talked about doing but missed out on for a variety of reasons. When I was still hardcore into capoeira I worried about missing training, when I was losing weight I fretted about calories, consumption, and my last line of resistance was about the actual distance of the run. I stayed away for a while, but more recently I have found myself going to one on a consistent basis. I love this run. It is my shortest run, my fastest run, my most envigorating run, and the only run on my weekend calendar that leaves me with more energy going out then coming.

Thank You Pub Runs!

Thank You Wiregrass Fitniche 5k!

Thank You for putting on a fun run, a chance for speedwork, and a great social experience for one and all- at zero cost!

Description:

My pub run is a 5k takes place starting from a local running store in the are called FitNiche. The route shoots down the road of the Wiregrass Mall (An outdoor style mall) and down a path along side a well traveled State road. You hit a turnaround spot with a water station  (at around 1.5 or so) and then head directly back. Afterwards runners walk over to a local beer-drinker type place called “The Brass Tap” to cool down with a beverage or 2. Runners of all abilities and ages run it. It draws a relatively big crowd that includes those walking their dogs, parents pushing strollers, to high school track athletes. Also, both experienced runners and newbies are out there for the Thursday night weekly fun.  Finally, there are also usually promotions and reps from local races there every week before and after the run.

This outdoor style is fairly new to the area but has become a popular hot spot. Im pretty sure the 5k route goes by this intersection but Im not 100%

Why it is awesome, why Im thankful for it:

1. Good “friendly” competition– There are a group of runners who run in the 20 to 22 minute range every week.  This is my typical pace and allows for good friendly chatter. Before the run you talk about what your strategy is for tonight and how you feel. After the run, you compare splits and talk about other races. It is a social piece in my life that is important, costs me nothing and is hard to find elsewhere. It gives me that before and after social high which I otherwise can go days without. Also from a runners perspective it is a chance to test my ability to keep up with faster runners in a race like simulation. Best of all, nobody takes it too seriously. There is a general attitude of fun in the air

The social part of my life comes and goes do to a lack of cashflow. This evening offers the opportunity to chat with fellow runners before and after my dash. A lot of people like to jog out the simple 3 and chat with their friends. You can make whatever social experience you want out of it

2. Close to my house– Wiregrass Mall is maybe 5 miles from house. It is a super short car ride there, so no wasted money on gas

3. Speedwork– I can let it go on this race. I have been working on speed on the treadmill, but it lacks some of the spice of this run. It is hard to “speed motivate” when running alone on the road as well. The group run pushes you by giving you that race vibe and adrenaline rush.

4. Energy– By Thursday Im usually dead tired. After my spin class on Thursday morning, I have now gotten up for 4 straight days at 5 am for exhaustive cardio workouts. In the evenings I hit it hard too. By Thursday Im pretty beat. Yet I get a good dinner in and then explode into this run and I feel terrific when Im done. Endorphins and adrenaline are going off like wild. Im already on board with my exhaustive Friday morning workout and in good spirits about the upcoming weekend. I feel physically engaged and mentally energized. Again, all at little or no cost to myself

Fitniche is a true runners’ store. I like to look around before the run begins or mill around with other runners and work off some of that nervous anticipation. Usually a pretty good crowd is out there and in good spirits

5. Pub of the Pub Run– I really like Brass Tap. It is a “sit a chill” type bar built for beer experts, snobs, and aficionados. Im none of the three. I have my one cider (I dont like beer after running) and glass of water and just unwind. If my buddy ME cant make it for post race, then I chat with new runners or just watch whatever game is on. If he is there, then we have tons of really thoughtful intellectual conversation as well as your basic guy talk. It makes for a pleasantly simple evening. Perhaps the best part- I seldom spend more than 5 to 8 bucks.  Ultimately it is ultra inexpensive for a little bit of a runners night out.

Beer drinkers love this spot because of the wide variety it houses. You dont need to be a beer snob to enjoy it though. Inside sitting is nice or if the weather works out, you can relax outside on the deck. It is an ideal spot for a pub run get together

6. Free Stuff– After ten runs, you get a free tech shirt. There are also giveaways, chances to demo gear, and raffles. It is almost a little more than a run. It is more like a weekly happening. You can bring you entire family and your pet if you like.  No money required, just your presence and a willingness to do 3.1 however you feel like it. That is a runcheap type experience

Once again then, thank you for the pub run. A huge runcheap weekend thank you goes out to the Fitniche 5k/BrassTap PostRace for putting together a short runners’ delight on Thursday evening. One which allows a solid social experience, a slice of fitness, and tiny bit of competition at no cost.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

Wish List Wednesday… Being more flexible

If you asked friends of mine a few years ago what my number 1 social problem was, they might very well have told you that I am too inflexible. At that time it was true- close minded, anxious, and easily frightened I was unwilling to try anything new so my progress suffered. Thankfully that is no longer a big problem of mine, I have overcome that particular difficulty, now I wish to overcome my other inflexibility. My physical inflexibility – which affects me before, during and after my runs. I wish I could change this with some yoga or personal training or something but my expendable income is too small to commit to those things, so I need to explore other options.

This week’s running wish…

I wish I was more flexible!

Set up- Loose and Light, fast and free

I have recently been experiencing more soreness at a higher level than ever before. To get ready for the distance season to come in the fall I have been ramping up mileage (safely) and this has left my joints stiff and achy more than normal along with that good muscle soreness you get after a hard run. I equate the first mile of a run when you are still a little sore to waking up the engine on an old car. Your hamstrings and glutes just dont want object vehemently when you try to get them going like an engine stuttering before revving through and going forward. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself.

I dislike stretching immensely. After reading an article that didnt help endurance runners, I stopped all stretching but this was a bad idea for the harder shorter runs I sometimes do.

Lately it has been more so than normal though. Part of it is because I dont stretch enough. I never like stretching, and to stretch before a morning workout (or after a morning workout)  means I need to wake up earlier than I already do. This isnt happening. Or when it is an afternoon workout, I always tell myself to stretch before and after, but I dont. The fact that I read an article recently that suggests that dynamic stretching doesnt help with injury prevention or performance has given me that false justification to not stretch at all.

This lack of stretching, my long commute  and my natural inflexibility has started to really negatively influence my running. I have experienced 2 small foot problems of late, and upon researching both of them they have a lot due to with muscle stiffness and lack of flexibility. Upon placing greater emphasis onn stretching those areas, I have relieved that pain and ran way better. Still I feel inflexible and stiff, still I think that if I could get looser out on the road more quickly my race time would improve. I also think greater flexibility would help me get used to running at higher speeds and give me the extra edge for some PR’s. Most options to significantly improve my flexibility are on the costly side, but there are some moderate options.

The Reality-  Super stiff and super sore

Im fairly inflexible. I had a pediatrician who once told me it would take stretching my hamstrings 45 minutes for them to loosen up. I wish I knew how serious or not he was being at the time, but I feel like he was accurate. Having trained capoeira for 4 years- which places a premium on it- my  flexibility has certainly improved. However  I would rate it as going from awful to slightly horrible. It is improvement, and a notable one but now it is no longer good enough. Even in those classes where we do extensive stretching it takes me way longer to get loose and feel right for the capo activities and movements to come. The extra time (as compared to my peers) that it takes me to get the stiffness out discourages me further so I often avoid it.

I should probably invest more time learning about the physiology of running, especially the bigger muscles. I do feel like I have excessively tight hamstrings which take longer to get churning than they should

I took a couple of yoga classes a couple of years ago and I like how they made me feel after but they were extremely painful during them. Sadly I could not continue because they were not cheap and the good studios for yoga are way out of my way. I tried doing a DVR yoga workout but it was not the same at all.  It definitely pointed out to me, that part of being fit is being flexible and I am most certainly not.

The Ideal Wish- Get loose quickly

I wish that I could stretch for 10 minutes (dynamic or static) before I run and shake the cobwebs out of muscles faster when I started. I wish that not every run began with my muscles “groaning to life” like the Chevy Nova my Dad used to drive when I was younger. I wish that I could touch my toes in any significant hamstring stretch. I wish that after runs, I could stretch for 10 minutes and feel that satisfying feeling that others get from the post workout cooldwon. I wish that I could be more flexible so I could find my speed quicker in shorter races. I wish that I could take yoga (too expensive and too far away currently)  or had the time for a flexibility based classes at my gym.

Stretching your calf is important, and mine have been very stiff lately. I usually do make an effort to do so with this muscle, but once again i found that I have spend excessive time doing so. Otherwise I develop tightness and problems as far down as my foot.

The Possible- How much can you improve personal flexibility? 

I am not sure about this one. I have debates on and off with capoeiraistas about whether or not you can make yourself more flexible. I think every one has a range, and I am not quite sure where I am in my own range. I know circus performer is not in that particular spectrum but I am hopeful that I can at reach least normal. Im also hopeful that if I attend college in the fall, I will have more cheap opportunities to work in a yoga class now and again. I also think that less of a commute and more time walking will mea that my legs will not have a lot of residual stiffness and will shake out easier when I need them to. Until then, I will have to make a better effort to stretch at least big muscles groups before, during and after all workouts. Since I cant be naturally flexible, I want to try to be passably so.

I enjoyed the yoga classes I took, but they were just too much money. Im hoping that as my situation changes, I will be able to go back and use them to build a better base of flexibility

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

A Huge Runcheap Weekend Thank You To… The Treadmill.. Yep I said it

This weekend’s thank you goes out it to that dreaded run machine that we all find ourselves attached to from time to time. It is more useful than you know. Easy to find, convenient to use, whether while traveling, at home, or at your gym. It means you dont always have to go huge distances to find a good run. Yeah,  it may not be the track in Eugene, or the Big Sur Marathon Route, or in my case even Flatwoods Park; Yet I find it to be an extremely helpful tool in my training. You could too

Thank you Treadmills!

Thank you for your convenience! Thank you for your reliability!

Thank you for your ability to always give me whatever type of run I am looking for, no matter what the conditions are outside!

Thank you for starting me off on my running path!

I was bitterly disappointed this morning when my navigational failures deprived me of a great opportunity. A chance to run the Croom Trail up in Brooksville with old friends and a chance to meet new ones. It is supposed  to be one of the premier running spots in the area for trail runners and it fit my run week perfectly. I missed it today because I couldnt find it. I was angry. I was pissed. I was furious. So what did I do? I went back to my gym, and blasted out 8 miles of hard ascending hill repeats on the treadmill. Then after a spin class, I jogged out 4 more on the treadmill. Frustration over.

Words cannot describe how angry I was at missing out on these beautiful trails this morning. I was happy to stomp that anger out on some hard treadmill miles

Im grateful to treadmills even though runners hate them. Treadmills, if you are runner, are super easy to develop a variety of workouts from. Florida doesnt have a lot of hills? Treadmill has a hill option. Want to avoid the heat for Intervals? Treadmill has speed intervals on it. I use them to build a pretty intense Fartlek workout on Fridays. I also use treadmills for pure speed workouts, gradually increasing speed over a set time. Treadmills are cheap to me because they are found at every gym, lots of peoples homes, and in hotels. No extra time or money spent in search of a good run when you want to stay indoors or your plans fall through.

Somedays indoor running just makes sense, and Im thankful that the treadmill exists for those moments

Treadmills are safe and convenient. I dont have to worry about cars, potholes, and stray animals. They are always close to the bathroom, which comes in handy all too frequently. They have TV so if I dont have to make the decision between a good workout and watching an amaziing game. They are near weights and spin rooms if you want to stack workouts or mix runs with fitness classes. The ability to get one full varied workout involving all of those elements in 1 locations helps hugely with gas and expenses.

When I started running, I was only doing one day a week outdoors and the other 3 on the treadmill.  Iw as intimidated by the wide variety of runs available to me outdoors. The wealth of workouts overwhelmed me by its sheer size. So I used the treadmill to keep my fitness and build my confidence. The outdoors I left for marathon base building. For me and others, I think the treadmill can be a good option for people who dont want to jump into the deep end of the pool when they start to run to stay in shape or get into as a hobby. I didnt want to spend tons on a watch or fancy running sneakers until i was sure I could handle it. My work on the tready convinced me I could.

While I love going up to San Antonio to work hills, it isnt super easy or convenient to always get up there. The only other hill workout option is on the treadmill

The treadmill isnt perfect. I crave the outdoors many days. I crave trails, amazing veiws and scenic locations. I always crave the crisp smells and fun sounds of the open roads as much as anyone. And you certainly cant run in a group on a tready. But its there when you need it. When you live in the disturbing heat of Tampa, that occurs quite frequently.

One of my favorite blogs (runstrongereveryday.com) described the treadmill as a “sometimes workout”. I would agree. Even though now, I run on the road far more often, I know I have that option of going back to that infernal machine and blasting off a good hard run. It may not be exactly the same, but it does work and it is effective. So a huge weekend runcheap thank you to the treadmill, for its reliability, convenience, and possibly variety.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

Active’s Suggestions on Keeping It Cheap

I have been meaning to do this for a while. Take a fitness article about keeping things cheap, and analyze its varied suggestions and ideas to see if they are accurate, helpful, innovative, and worth implementing. This one is about “Staying Fit”, and all runners needs to stay fit to run at their best. 

http://www.active.com/fitness/Articles/5_Ways_to_Stay_Fit_Without_Breaking_the_Bank.htm

Recently I found it on active.com and skimmed through it, I thought I would take a look at their 5 suggestions Runcheap style, and offer some thoughts. 

1. Finding Cheap Gym Memberships

Active’s suggestions:

See if you can make a deal with gym through use of your company/employer

–  Part time gym memberships, where you make a deal in cost in exchange for only using the gym certain hours

Negotiate with a late night manager, who is likely to cut you a better deal

I belong to Lifestyles, which i certainly not the cheapest gym out there. You can build your own membership, but the best way to get reduced rates here is just to tell them you are leaving

Runcheap Says:

 People with jobs with companies who sponsor memberships or pay for memberships arent usually those looking to save a quick buck on the gym (although every little bit helps). It is typically those who they arent getting squat from their company looking for gym deals. As for part time memberships, I cant really speak to this except to say that bigger gyms probably dont make those deals, but I bet a smaller one would. Also,  I bet you could get a lot of leeway to using the gym at other hours once you cut the deal. Finally the late night manager idea is a good one, and I would also suggest the early morning manager, better to get people when they are tired

Runcheap’s Suggestions– If you belong to a big gym and want to pay cheaper, find a manager and tell them you are going to quit the gym. Even if you are not, gyms are desperate to keep people and initiating the conversation this way will show them you are serious and maybe prompt a better deal. I have used this before to some success.

2.  Purchase Discount Fitness Equipment

Active’s Suggestions:

Build a home gym using purchases from Craig’s List and smart garage sale-ing

Runcheap Says:

Im definitely a fan of finding equipment or fitness products on the cheap. A friend of mine just got a Craig Listed version of Insanity for half of the retail price. I bet its a good option if you know how to maneuver the site so to speak (I really dont). A garage sale is risky business for heavy cardio equipment, but if they can prove it works and you have a cheap way to move it to your location it really could be a smart way to find something good. Be sure you need it before you purchase though, dont just get it because its a deal.

Runcheaps suggestions- Play It Again Sports could also work. My suggestion would be to find something you really need, just 1 fitness item and then make the effort to find it as cheaply as possible. Pick something you know you will use, and will last long, and is not difficult to transport so you dont add to residual costs

Garage sales are great, find someone who knows how to really work them and see what they think about buying fitness equipment at one

3. New Home Gym Options

Active’s Suggestions:

–  TRX Suspension Training System for $200

–  Bowflex 2000- $1000

– Assorted Valeo Dumbbells – $15

– Check amazon.com and overstock.com for bulk/bundle deals

Runcheap Says:

Go with the dumbbells, you can always put together a good workout with just dumbbells if you are smart about it. I like TRX, but it is expensive and not that easy to use. The Bowflex price makes my head hurt, and both of the last 2 suggestions will ultimately only pay off (financially) if you stick with them a very,  very long time. Their website suggestions are possibly the best idea listed here. Even in todays internet age it still amazes me what can be found on Amazon.

Runcheap’s suggestions- Go with the dumbbells and add a set of resistant bands (usually pretty cheap), add some plyometrics in tandem with those 2 things and you can always hit a good workout without leaving your house.

Small, durable, cheap, mobile, and easy to build a great workout from. Get yourself a set.

4.  Sports Equipment 101

Active’s suggestions:

Buy it at Play It Again Sports, buy it online on sites already discussed

Runcheap Says:

I feel like what they are saying here belongs in a different place. Im certainly a fan of Play It Again Sports and it is a great place to pick up fitness gear on the cheap, but I dont get why a discussion of sporting goods is in this article? I thought it was supposed to be about staying fit. While sports certainly keep you fit, most adults arent purchasing tons of sports equipment to do so. If you are talking about kids, then that is a different story

Runcheap’s Suggestions– Nothing here, take a visit to Play It Again Sports because you never know what you can find that may help you get fit

I have purchased many sports and fitness items here at reduced rates

5.  Cheap Travel Deals

Active’s suggestions

Use “aggregator” style flight websites to find the best deals for airlines if you are headed out to destination races or events

When you find a cheap flight just book it because it wont last

Avoid flying on Friday’s or Sundays to save cost

Book a car rental reservation at the time of your flight, then attempt to find a deal later on. Look for the smallest car available at the lowest rate and try to upgrade later

Runcheap Says:

Im not really sure if people who are looking to stay fit on a budget are those planning on huge destination races, but Ill bite for the time being. I agree on using the flight “aggregators”. Plus I just learned a whole new word in doing so. Are there people who dont use these sites to book flights? I also concur with the “book it when you see a deal” mentality, airfare costs vary so greatly that you shouldnt pass up a bargain. As for Friday’s and Sunday’s, how can you avoid them? Most people work during the week, especially those looking to save a buck or 2. What they are saying may be true, but it is not feasible for a lot of everyday people.  As for car rentals? I cant admit to knowing anything about them. I have never rented a car in my life.

Runcheap’s Suggestions– Use public transportation where available. If you have just enough cash to get yourself to a destination race, make it in a city with good access to a bus/taxi/train system so you can move about without dealing with car rental nonsense. Or find a driving distance destination race, get a few friends, and carpool it.

If you have just enough money for a destination race, why waste on a car rental? Use public transportation!

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

Wish List Wednesday… Competition and Downsizing

I am personally undergoing a period of personal transition and progress in my life. With the possibility of a major move nearing closer than I would like to admit, Im starting to both downsize my life and my house. Im finding the experience oddly liberating, to dispose or donate items that I have accumulated in 10 years of living in Tampa. While I was doing so, I stumbled across my old pair of soccer cleats and shinguards which is what prompted me to write this weeks posting about missing that edge of athletic competition. 

Downsizing to me means to pare down. To strip my life of the things I really dont need so I can maximize what I actually do. This is why these WLW postings will now only focus on 1 wish and a couple of updates.  That way I can focus on that one and avoid postings which may be too too long.

Onto this weeks wish….

I wish that I had athletic competition…..

Set up- Seeking friends

Back when I first moved to Tampa, I got lonely really fast. I was depressed beyond belief and desperate to meet people and I hadnt yet settled into my new job or area. Fortunately I came across a flyer for TBCS. Tampa Bay Club Sport, as I found out, is a locally run organization that organizes leagues of different sports and different ability levels for the purpose of fun and social interaction. Soccer leagues, tennis, kickball, flag football, volleyball and others were on the list back in those days. This was a revelation to me and I instantly signed up for the next availble season. For the next few years, I played in one league or another on and off. I loved the camaraderie of soccer followed by beers afterward or the relaxation of a good hard game of beach volleyball. In the later years I got to play soccer with my sister in a coed league which allowed us to bond in a whole level and connect socially as adults as a full time.

I used to love hitting the soccer fields for TBCS. When I first came down here, this was some of the only socialization and physical activity that I was getting

Sadly it has been a couple years since I stopped playing in these leagues. Why? While the leagues were always fun, I was never able to make it into a new social circle (always stuck on the fringe), the lengthy drive was getting to me, and I was starting to get more into capoeira. Capoeira was offering 5 nights of week of intense physical training, and close friendships. We were going out wednesday night every week for drinks following class with huge groups, and hanging out on the weekend. My physical shape was starting to improve significantly as well. The academy was alive and vibrant and I so dove headlong into it. Sports fell by the wayside. A few months later I tried to get into a game of pickup soccer with a friend from capoeira and ended up with a torn meniscus that required surgical repair. After that point, capoeira became my focus until running came on the scene.

Capoeira’s intense training and intense friendships caused me to fade away from sports. The torn meniscus in soccer didnt help either

I miss sports badly. I used to play sports all the time in high school, and I want that edge again. Success as a runner and a new found physical fitness have spurred my desire for that basic competition. Plus capoeira has been reduced to only 2 short nights a week of training availability. I spin, I run, I lift,  I run, I run, I take classes, but I would much rather fill ONE of those nights with a game of tennis, a well played soccer game, even a sandy mess of a beach volleyball game.  Get my workout in, and get my sports fix as the same time. Sadly, both the time and the money are currently lacking for this type of deal.

The Ideal Wish- Get back into sports

That I could join other sports league and have a regular soccer game. That I could have a weekly scheduled tennis set with a good friend. That I could go out and play a game of volleyball with some semi competitive people and then chill at the beach afterward. That I could take the “best of shape of my life” fitness and apply it again to sports. That I could take my new found personal confidence, built on my running, and meet friends again and make deeper connections. That I could achieve that lovely edge of competition that running has sparked in me again.

Beach volleyball can be fun, competitive and one of the best workouts you can get. The fact that it is along the beach doesnt hurt either

The Reality- Too far and too much 

For as much as I loved TBCS, the leagues were not cheap. Something like 55 to 65 bucks per season. Even though capoeira has cut back, I still have to pay for that and my gym membership. This leaves that much of an investment (plus the cost of gas to get to games which are not close) as simply too much. I toyed with the idea a couple of times, but the expense was just too great. On top of which, the strong possibility of relocating shortly would make commitment to a league somewhat senseless.

The Possibility- College competition 

Hopefully when I relocate to grad school, opportunities for this competition will arise on campus. The school I would be attending is a massive state school and there has to be available leagues for me to enjoy. I havent done the research but I am hopeful. That being said, I dont need to be drawn into anything I dont need during the beginning of my classes. I need to focus on my academics, adjusting,  and of course my running. Once I get settled there and things calm down, I plan on seeking out some competition and using my new level of running based fitness for sports.

A not so subtle hint about this fall 🙂

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wish List Wednesday Updates

Wish- I wish I could turn a non-running friend into a running friend

Update– My friend ME who has back problems came out for me this am and put in 2 miles. I dont see him being a runner, but I think he heard the passionate way I talk about the topic and the level of workouts I put in and wanted some of that cardio. I count this as a huge success. It made this mornings interval workout feel really awesome

Wish- I wish I could like salad

Update– I dont see myself making salad anytime soon. Yesterday I used a free pass to Sweet Tomatoes and filled a plate with a bunch of their salads and greatly enjoyed myself. I dont think I would put forth the effort to produce high quality salads (and yummy soups and baked goods) like they have, but all their salads were super tasty and I didnt go home unsatisfied. So, some progress there.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

A Huge Weekend Runcheap Thank You To…. San Antonio, Florida

This will be a quick one as I want to go hang with my Mother to thank her for all she has done for me.

Thank You San Antonio, Florida!

Thank you for letting me run your hills hassle free!

Thank you for demonstrating courtesy and unspoken friendliness to runners!

Once every couple of months I head up to San Antonio, Florida park my car at St. Leo University and hit an 8 mile “danger loop” as I call it. 15 minutes north of where I live in Wesley Chapel, this small town (about 30 minutes north Tampa) is the closest location for any flat and fast Florida who wants to do hills. There are options further north, but for me this is the closest, the most convenient and the best available.

A small Catholic school close to where I live is a good place to leave my car, when I head out for my hill runs

If you head out to San Antonio you can run the 8 mile loop I discovered, or find one of the big hills “Abbey Hill” (My nickname) or “Happy Hill” (thats the actual name of the road). Later in the year they host a race that sells out quite frequently called the Rattlesnake Run. It is a difficult 5 miler and very popular- I have been told it that it has been acknowledged as one of the best races in the area. The point is that there are few hillwork options and close to me, so it is very nice to have this location

However I would never run this route if the people there werent so accommodating. Most of my 8 mile loop is on a course which has no shoulder on the road to run on and unrunnable grass or vegetation on the side of the road. You have to run most of it on that white line or directly on the road itself. I must have  been passed by like 50 or 60 cars today even though it is not a busy route. Not once did anyone come close to me despite the lack of space. Not once did the cars , which easily swerved well clear of me, give me a rude honk or yell something or slow down to produce a nasty look. Several times I got happy waves. I really do appreciate this. I dont take it for granted that in this community, they are more than happy to share the road with runners and bikers as well. You would be surprised how unwilling drivers in Tampa and Florida in general are to acknowledge other forms of transportation besides a car. You encounter a lot of nastiness. Runners are very familiar with etiquette amongst other runners but cars, motorcycles, trucks are a whole other story. I usually dont trust them, yet oddly on this route- which is more dangerous then others- I feel more comfortable with every run.

I dont have nearly this much space on the 8 mile hill route I use, but the people of San Antonio are happy to accommodate my hanging on that white line

If I ever felt like cars or trucks around there were hostile. I wouldnt run this course and would be SOL as far as getting solid hillwork (or I would be relegated to the tready). Instead I get to enjoy a beautiful 8 mile course, stare at some huge livestock, pass by some orange groves, get to conquer some rolling hills, and take in a lovely rural area. I did the loop twice today, and it felt so good to be out there that I did the second time through faster then the first. Im thankful to the good people of this community for being responsible drivers, and for helping out a runner who just wants to use their lovely community to get some solid training in without having to drive a long ways.  So a huge runcheap thank you to San Antonio for your pedestrian politeness and street hospitality.

A runner tackles some hills in San Antonio. It is a truly enjoyable place to run

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day :0

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