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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

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

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 Wursday… Commuting and Eating Out

This week’s Wish List Wednesday deals with 2 things that I probably will never see me in my lifetime. But heres hoping for something close.

My running wish is…..

I wish I could run commute….

Set up- A Soul Sucking Drive

Any regular reader of my blog will know that I despise my current commute for a number of reasons. Its 40 miles and 45 minutes long and 40 miles and 45 minutes of gas. It drains my bank account, my time and my energy. Even if I start the day feeling good, Im lethargic after my lengthy drive to work. Even if I end the end the day on a high, it wont last the soul sucking drive back home. The commute means the best time in the morning to run is 5 am, because I then need time to get ready and drive to work. 5 am running has its benefits, but by Friday it starts to take a toll. If my commute wasnt that long, I wouldnt need to do this. I might get that extra sleep I need as well. I was thinking though, wouldnt it be ideal if I could just run to and from work? Kill 2 birds with one stone? Get my morning run in and get to work? Save gas and help the environment, and all that stuff.

I hate my morning and afternoon commute. It zaps the life out of me.

The Ideal Wish- Morning Runs with Purpose

That I lived 4 miles away or so from where I worked with a route I could vary to 8 or more. That I could find a way to leave clothes/food at my job, get my various runs in on the way to work in the morning (fartlek, tempo, interval, speed), do my job, and then jog it out back home. That I could build my mileage during the work week by running to work. That I would not have to drive unless I truly needed a day off or due to weather. That I could save myself immense amount of gas and save my poor car. That I could enjoy my morning runs even more than normal by giving them a specific purpose beyond training.

I wish my morning runs not only had a specific running purpose but a specific life purpose.

The Reality- Not happening

40 miles and 45 minutes away. No run commuting, because Im not a Tamahumara or an ancient Asian marathon monk. Do I need to say more?

The Possible- A test run

My situation may change in a short time, and I may be run commuting to class if possible, so there is that. Or that could not happen at all, it depends on a lot to still be determined. What could I try for now? A test run commute to and from my parents who live 10 to 15 miles away (depending on route). I could take one early weekend before school ends, run to the parents house in the morning and jog back at night. My parents would be more than happy to feed and hydrate  during the downtime in between the runs. Best of all, no work in between. I think this would be a fun test to see how enjoyable this experience would be. Not to mention, save some gas and some wear and tear on my car

I would have to run commute to my parents off of Bruce B Downs BLVD in Tampa, it has a ton of construction on it which would add to the challenge

Now onto my nutrition wish….

I wish I could healthy when I eat out…..

Set up-  Real Nutritious Food Please

I know there are healthier restaurants out there that cater specifically to people looking for a more nutritious bite. However most people dont eat at those places when they go out, and more specifically my friends and family dont. They eat at places like Fridays, Chilis, Ruby Tuesdays, or other popular chains and restaurants. So that is where I eat. It is nearly impossible to find a healthy, semi-low calorie meal at those places. Screw salads first of all. Im not sitting for an hour of meal and a conversation and having a salad.  I just want a plate of nutritious food that has some taste of it so I can sit with friends/family and enjoy, while they enjoy their pulled pork sandwich or burger or whatever. Im not above any of that stuff, I love a lot of it but honestly sometimes when I get invited out to eat Im not always in the mood for something “fat-tastic” or greasy. I dont want to portion control either. I have seen where people are advised to just take half of their helping and pack it away in a box for future consumption as a means of healthy eating out. I hate this for a variety of reasons. It seems rude to me, reheated food lacks quality, and it defeats the purpose of eating out. I just want to be able to sit at one of those restaurants and enjoy a terrific healthy bite. So why isnt it really offered? Why is only pseudo healthy food offered?

I enjoy a nice rack of ribs as much as the next guy. In fact those are making me hungry right now, but what about when I want to head out with friends and have something tasty thats not a calorie party?

The Ideal Wish- Eat out, eat happy, eat healthy

That I could could get that random invite from my friend “Hey lets head out to -insert chain or standard restaurant- here and have a bite” and I wouldnt cringe knowing that I will have to chose between 1300 to 1500 calorie plates in one meal. That I can say yes and go out and pick a nice plate of chicken/fish/turkey/vegetable centered food, eat it, feel satisfied from a taste/fullness point of view and not consume over 600 to 900 calories. That the healthiest item on the menu woulnt be a salad. That I could sit with friends and enjoy my low calorie plate of food while they chow down on whatever makes them happy. That I could be social, eat out when it comes up, and still eat healthy. That the culnary wizards who run these places-  who can devise delicious and amazing bites of food – could spend a little time, thinking of delicious and amazing bites of HEALTHY food for when you are not always looking to indulge.

It is hard to “eat smart” when you eat out. Choices are so limited, if you are not digging a salad

The Reality- A Calorie Fest

I sat with my Dad yesterday and we both attempted to order healthy plates of food for lunch at an American chain restaurant. He ordered the Turkey Club and I had the Flounder. My dish was a Parmesan Crusted Pan Seared Flounder with a vegetable medley on the side and a Jasmine rice pilaf. Doesnt that sound that bad right? Calorically it adds up to a whopping 1380/1390 calories. Im not that stingy about calories since I exercise a considerable amount but thats a lot for one sitting. My fathers turkey club came with bacon, and would have come with mayo had he not had it removed. All he wanted was a nice turkey sandwich. Eating out and eating healthy is impossibly hard. You have to do a ton of research beforehand and this precludes spur of the moment trips. Im all about planning ahead, but would it kill restaurants to offer one or two truly healthy meals on their menu? Instead of meals that are designed to appear healthy and arent even close. Applebees 550 calorie menu is touted, and I have had one of those meals and they are are sodium loaded and un-appetizing. Is it an admirable step or a way to half ass something to draw in some dieting customers? Im betting on #2. I dont want to eat salads when I eat out. I want to eat meals and it fairly pisses me off that a real nutritious option is near impossible to find.

Without the sauce, the Pan Seared Parmesan Flounder on the left is what made up of the core of my lunch yesterday, not totally unhealthy since it is fish but 940 calories is a lot nonetheless

The Possible- Not a lot of options

I hate portion sizing when Im out as much as I hate salads. When I read various columns about eating smart when I eat out, these are the 2 most common suggestions. If I am capable of providing nutritious healthy meals for myself with mild flavor then why cant restaurants? I have no utterly no hope of expecting them to change their menu in a way reflective of normal sized food with flavor and nutritional content. When I know Im going out, I can order my eating appropriately so that it is not huge problem. When it is spur of the moment? Just make the best choice you can really. I have a fairly good idea of what is healthy and what is not. I guess the other thing to do would be to suggest a more healthy friendly eating spot. None of these are great options to me for a variety of reasons, so the whole thing kind of aggravates me.

I dont even need it that fast. I just want a real healthy option when Im out, instead of fakes.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

A Huge Runcheap Weekend Thank You To… My awesome running friend

I was happy in last week’s post that I got around to thanking some of the people (my spin instructors) who keep me running strong an running cheap. People are obviously at the core of my inspiration and motivation for my running. Above all though, my running friend RD (not sure if she is comfortable with her name being mentioned specifically so thats what I will refer to as) is the most motivating, encouraging, thoughtful, diligent, and well rounded person and runner I know. She is one of those people who you meet in life, who make you take a step back and say wow, Im hope I am half as good of a person- let alone runner- as her.

Thank you RD!

Thank you for being a motivator, an inspiration, a mentor, and a great friend!

Thank you so much for helping me out with my development as a person and a runner!

I first met RD through capoeira several years ago. She was one of my first capoeira instructors and originally one of the only people I would train with. Before I got the lay of the land at the academy, she was one of the only people I really felt comfortable with. This is not to say that her classes were easy. Not only did you learn lots of capoeira but you were challenged from a fitness perspective as well. Classes could be grueling. Once I relaxed into it, I  became friends with her and we had many great capoeira experiences together on road trips, rodas, batizados, and she helped me a ton during our unreal experience in Brazil. I was amazed at her level of dedication. That she could hold down that level of responsibility at the academy, raise a family, and was still a dedicated runner. It was inspiring to me. It constantly made me think  that I could do more as a person and from a fitness perspective.

I love capoeira, it was my first huge step into a healthier world and RD was my first instructor and helped ease me into it until I found my footing and my ginga

I honestly dont think I would have gotten into running without RD. When my fitness level from capoeira training (5, 6 nights a week) plateaued, part of the reason running was a natural progression for me was because of her interest level in it. Every time I would run a new distance, I would text her and get an encouraging response back. One of my first races as runner she was there for. When I blitzed my first half marathon, she was the first person I sent a text to. Same after my first marathon at Disney. All times I get a thoroughly encouraging and genuine response from her.

I texted RD the morning of the Gasparilla Half at like 430 am, whining about the conditions, she responded and it calmed me down. Ended up being my strongest race yet

It hasnt changed. One of the reasons I dont look for a coach is because of RD. Coaches are supposed to motivate and inspire you, and I get that from her more than I ever could from some stranger. When I post on daily mile whether it be a good run or a bad run, she always has a good level headed comment for me. More recently as I have been struggling with a new marathon time goal, I have been consulting with her about it. She help me fix that goal, but as usual has higher expectations for me then I do for myself. I think it is great to know someone like that.

Since RD has stepped away from capoeira, I definitely dont get to see her as much. It makes me cherish the races I do get to run with her even more. Running can be a lonely experience, especially when you have only a small group of friends (who mostly dont run and dont like running). On race days, it always gets the blood flowing to see a familiar positive face out there. During runs she always shouts something positive at me as we pass each other which makes me step up my effort no matter how tired I may be. And it is always nice to decompress after a hard effort with a good friend and discuss.  In fact, one of the reasons Im excited about my ridiculously small 5k on Friday Night is because I know I will get to hang out with my friend afterwards and the group she runs with.

Even though this race was 2 weeks out of the Gasparilla Half, I was excited to run it because I got to hang out with RD her family, and her strider friends at the beach afterward. It was tons of fun.

I remember when I started doing these “Thank You” style postings, I noted that I could write a forever post about  my mother. I probably could for RD as well. Impossible to overstate the importance of good people and good friends. Beyond impossible. I honestly dont know if I could be where I am now as a human being and a runner, if I had not encountered RD. If I leave this area, she will be one of a small group of people who I will thoroughly miss. So on that note, A huge colossal runcheap weekend thank you to my awesome running friend- RD. Thank you so much for being a great friend/ great running running mentor for many years. Keep running hard and running strong.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

A Huge Weekend Runcheap Thank You To… Early AM Spin Classes

This weekend’s runcheap thank you goes out to a get what you pay for, worth every penny type bargain. That helped get me in shape to be a runner, and is now one of my most vital forms of cross training to keep me in shape for running strong and cheap-Spin Classes. In this case, the early am spin classes that I first started with.

Thank you early AM spin classes!

Thank you for getting me into shape to be a healthy runner!

Thank you for helping me establish that morning cardio routine!

Thank you for providing that perfect bit of cross training!

Thank you to the 2 great AM teachers that I have!

Without spinning their would have been no running. It is as simple as that for me. The only reason that I joined the gym this last time around was because they had spin classes. I was desparate to drop weight that I had put back on and wanted tht HIIT training so badly. At the time I wasnt into running, it was still an “eh” type activity for me. I dont think I was truly in a physical shape to enjoy it. But a friend of mine took me to a gym and showed me a spin class. After one 45 minute class I was hooked. I drove to a gym closer to my house with spin classes, and signed up that same night.

My spin classes are known as "RPM"

I was exceptionally fortunate. My local gym has spin classes at 545 am on Tuesday and Thursday. This fit my workout schedule perfectly. 45 minute hardcore spin at a gym on my way to work, followed by a shower and change and I would be at work on time without a problem. With solid cardio already accomplished!At the time I had been trying to get a solid morning routine going, and once I found these bedrock tuesday/thursday spin classes everything consolidated around it. I enjoyed the routine of being there those 2 days so much, I started to show up at the gym the other 3 days of the week as well. I hit the elliptical for some fearsome interval styled “almost runnning” workouts each of those days. Every evening of the week, I packed my stuff for the weary morning wakeup. Every 5 am, the alarm buzzed off, and every weekday I was at the gym for my morning cardio. What a great feeling it is to get that cardio buzz in before you even get your day started. For the record  I still love it. I still revel that feeling.  Back then the weight started to fall off as soon as I started spinning, tone started to develop, and on the weekends- I started to do something really weird called “running”. It all started with the spin. It has remained with the spin. When the elliptical workouts switched to hardcore treadmill workouts, the tuesday/thursday spins stuck. They still are that perfect counterpoint to running and a terrific low impact workout. Even now, when the treadmill workouts have been abadanoned, for outdoor morning runs of various types on MWF, I still am excited to head out for my morning (Tues/Thurs) spin.

Their advertisements around the gym are hilariously overdone, but these classes are a guaranteed good workout, especially with top notch instructors

I spin at lot of other times as well. Its an activity I enjoy 4 sometimes 5 rides a week. A class packed with energy and music every time. A guaranteed workout also.. Resistance training-check, Muscle training-check, cardio intensity-check. Every single time.  Despite being a frequent spinner,  the AM class is still my favorite though. One instructor teaches on Tuesday and a different one on Thursday. They are both great. If I disliked how they ran classes, I probably would go irregularly or not at all. But I like the personality and the connection they make in both cases, so I am a constant attendee. The tuesday teacher packs an infectious energy which no human being should have that early in the morning. She finds a different angle for every workout, and is the right combination of “go get it” motivator and regular human being. The Thursday teacher is different. She focuses on form, creates little games with the classes, and remembers peoples personal stories.It is exceptionally hard to teach anything. I know that from personal experience. To do it well that early and with energy that early in the morning is noteworthy. Both of them nail it every time

Every 5 am weekday, I get up to workout, Tues/Thurs spin helped me get in this routine

My gym membership is one of those few expenses that I allow myself as a luxury. I could probably find a cheaper gym, but Im unwilling to give up my 545 am spin as long as I live where I do. I love those classes that much.  When I go to run on the days following, I know that I am just as strong because I cross trained really hard and really well prior. Over the summer, when I dont work, I still get up early to take those classes (and then head right back to bed of course). They are a core part of my running training, one of the reasons my fitness remains so high, and are an excellent experience each time. They keep me running strong for sure. They keep me running cheap by being worth every penny of my membership. Giving me that extra piece of cross training so that I dont go out and overspend on this program or that, this trend or that. I pay for it for sure, but it is worth it.

I have logged many a valuable training hour on one of these. Happily

Without that spinning to get me started and get that initial weight of, I doubt I every would have become a distance/endurance athlete. I doubt I would have been able to cross that threshold from being that guy who just wants to slim down and whose weight fluctuates, to that being that “healthy guy”. From being a guy looking for aerobics to being a runner. So on that note, a huge weekend runcheap thank you to early AM spin classes! See you there on Tuesday and then again on Thursday!  Thank you Krystal and Julie!

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

A Huge Weekend Runcheap Thank You To….

I have decided to add another important weekly theme to this particular blog which will appear one time each weekend. Let me explain.

Every week when I get my mini dry erase board out and write out my weekly list of things to do, I always include as one of the items a “Gesture”. You see, every week I make it a point to accomplish at least  1 thoughtful thing for somebody other than myself. These gestures dont have to be costly and gigantic and can take on many different forms. Sometimes they are offering to cover someones classes or duty at work, giving someone a ride home even know its way out of my way, getting a bunch of bananas for my capoeira class, or maybe giving a few dollars to a charity I believe in. Sometimes I have exactly what I want to do in mind and sometimes, it just happens during the week. Each week I make sure it happens,out of desire to do it and not out of obligation.  I am not writing this to suggest that Im some incredibly selfless person. I put the gesture on my list because I am grateful for what I have in life and everything/everyone that supports me. I need to carry that over to this blog

A lot of the discussion on this blog is about how difficult the expense of running is to overcome in order for someone to run competitively on a constrained budget. Despite incredibly shrinking funds however, I still have been able to improve my overall running and accomplish some of my running/fitness goals. How? Part of it is because the personal decisions and choices I make for sure. But a HUGE part of it is that I have a lot of factors in my life that make it possible for me to get where I want to go as a runner. It is these factors that these weekend posts will devoted to. So each week, I will be acknowledging someone/someplace/something that keeps me running strong and running cheap, with a “Huge Weekend Runcheap Thank You“.

**** I should note that I could write this column about my mom every single freaking week. The posts and the gratitude would be endless, because of the uncountable ways she supports me (and doesnt have to). Especially considering that at 32, I still drive her crazy sometimes………******

So for my first…….

A Huge Weekend  Runcheap Thank You To ….. My Car

Thank you Scion XA!

I abuse my car. It is sad. Sometimes out of necessity, sometimes out of sheer laziness. I commute 80 miles a day to and from my job, and then probably another 30 or so to and from capoeira twice a week, and then to and from my gym (short trips, but still) quite often, and then to and from my tempo runs, etc, etc, etc.  Then on top of that, there is all that driving that I have to do to get to races in Gainesville, Palm Harbor, Clearwater, and downtown Tampa among other places. My car logs a lot of mileage, close to a 140,000 in the less than six years I have owned it. Of its own accord, without user error, it has NEVER broken down. The only ever time it did not answer the call was when I drained the battery by stupidly leaving my lights on for a long amount of time. When I blew out my tire on a curb, and had a minor wreck this year, it was repaired and running strong again fairly quickly. And not at colossal expense.

Yep, the Scion has been huge for me. And I dont take great care of it. Oil changes go way past due, the brakes were not changed quickly enough, and I have kicked it out of frustration towards something else multiple times. The inside is usually a disaster as well. When you drive as much as I do, your car becomes part storage facility, part cafeteria, part gym locker. Clothes, cups, crumbs are often all over the place and cat hair and dust often lines the dasher. It needs to be professionally detailed badly, and often. I obviously dont have the money for this. Instead it gets me giving it a halfway cleaning every once in a while. About once a year my dad and I do a pretty good job cleaning it completely, but it never lasts long. It returns to its overused and rather ugly looking state. The Scion does not complain.

Instead it gets tremendous gas mileage for the amount of miles I have put on it. It has cost me only minimally in repairs and fixes. It continues to run well, handle well, and get me safely and reliably from point to point. If it hadnt, if it had broken down because of my crappy maintenance (or other reasons), then I wouldnt have the funds to take myself running, get those new sneakers, purchase those gels, go to the gym for that extra workout. I  also wouldnt have the transportation to get there. My running would not have improved if my vehicle was not reliable and efficient. It saves me both money and time that I can use elsewhere. So once again. A huge weekend thank you to my Scion XA!

I dont (sadly) have any photos of my actual car, but this is a different example of the Blue 2006 Scion XA that gets me where I need to go and lets me run cheap.

Who or what supports your running?  Thank them

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day :0

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