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Archive for the category “Wellness”

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

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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

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

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

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

Finding Value

I think an important part of my philosophy of trying to run as cheaply and as cost effective as possible, this idea of finding value in race/run experiences. These means 2 things. Firstly, carefully spend your money on your racing experiences so that have maximum value to you as a person and a runner. Secondly, look for that added value by being positive about your racing experience. I think I do a good job with the first,  but maybe not as good a job as a good with the second as I would like. This Friday was one of those times where I  started to see progress with that element of the run cheap experience.

I ran the Crazy Sombrero 5k  on Friday and it was not the most well organized and most well executed race. It was cheap ($15), and done wit a good spirit though so I found added value in it all over. I had a great racing time for little cost.

My little course correction meant I had to pass the same person twice

Here is where I found added value:

1. Personal Time– The race took place close to where I work, very close. It also went off at Friday at 7:15 at night. This meant a lot of time at work after school had ended,  all to myself. A school clears out of students and teachers quickly on Friday.  Quickly is actually an understatement. By 3:30 the building was desolate. It left me lots of quiet time to take care of some necessary emailing, clean out garbage from my car, listen to the radio, clear some school paperwork, and not be in a rush to get to my race. The added value was in the personal relaxing alone time, and the lack of rush. I got to sit there and enjoy my dinner in peace and quiet

2. Longleaf Gazebo– The race took place in a small New Port Richey Community of Longleaf. They have an open space  with a Gazebo, there that they use for Farmers Markets and other small events. It is very pleasant spot. I got my bib and packet by 5:20 or so, so these left 2 free hours until race time with nothing to do. I just relaxed in the Gazebo and people watched. The added value was in the mental space of the moment, and the ability to slow down my day even before I sped it up.

3. The Race– They had to have the most ridiculous system ever for this race. Firstly, the 5k course was a 4 loop x 1250m route. Seriously? Talk about neighborhood small. It was almost like a cross country type course as far as design. Secondly, in order for the race organizers to follow what lap you were on, runners had to grab a tiny sticker on their way past each loop and place it on their bib. The organizer promised us that it would not be difficult or slow down our times. It was both. I missed the sticker the first time entirely, causing me to go the wrong way on the turnaround and a few seconds of my time. The second time, I got the sticker, but they had failed to block off the back road connecting the turnaround and I almost got hit by a uhaul turning onto the street. Not joking, true story. The third time through, I grabbed the tiny sticker but got distracted and almost ran over a wheelchair/handicapped participant. Colliding with people nearly occurred a 100 times during the race. Faster runners and slower runners had to occupy the same space so constantly you were lapping and passing the same people. They were for the most part not listening to “on your lefts” or “space” calls. It was hectic. Several people who I passed whispered out loud angirly at me that “This was a fun run”.  Like I needed to feel badly for running fast or something. I finished 8th overall and with a good time. Despite everything I said before,  THIS RACE WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE. The added value comes from the small time hilarity of the race. That because it was legitimately crazy, you just have to laugh it off and do the best you can. You have to embrace the small time nature of the run, and just celebrate that you now have some interesting racing stories to tell. You just have to relax and take the experience for what is worth.

Not that many people ran this race, but the course was hectic due to the loop system

4.  Small but growing– This race has the potential to be a great race. It is only the 2nd or 3rd time they have run it. They got a decent size of people for it, and the packet pickup was well organized and the race bag was fairly cool. They had tents, events, bounce house for kids, water slide, and a little dance party for children after. All excellent ideas. I dont believe in pulling the wings of flies. Meaning, I dont believe in carping on something which was done with good intentions. Cutting something off before it grows. In this case, I expect that a few years from now this will be a much more signficant race. For now, it was a cheap but clearly getting bigger. I wish this race well and find signficant added value in talking about it and contributing to a growing race. 

These guys made a good effort to run a great race, they need to change a couple of things here or there, but basically they did an okay job

5. Getting Cheered– I sometimes run or hangout with a running group based out of New Port Richey called the Suncaost Striders. The Striders run this route quiete frequently and one of them even lived along the race course. There was a whole crowd of them running and a bunch not running. The non-runners in their group cheer everybody on loudly. Those who knew me, even cheered for me. I have never really had that experience before. Seeing someone you know during a race and have them urge you on positively. I count that as a race highlight and all kinds of added value.

6. Party on The Porch– The Striders hosted a post race party following the race that I had the good fortune to be invited to. It was right along the race course, so I was thrilled to attend. The party exceeded my already positive expectations. I got to talk with other runners and joke/laugh about the ridiculousness of the race set up. I got to chat and hang out with my only close running friend, RD. I got to meet new people and talk about running and racing in general. I also got to grub down on some delicious home made goodies. Im no really sure what half of the food I consumed precisely was (most of it had a Mexican theme to it) but it was all yummy. To sum up, it was as good of a time as I have had at a party in a while, in every way imaginable.  Added value to the maximum

Added value is everywhere, you just have to be positive and look for the best in your experiences when you can. Thats true about running especially. Try to make the best out of a run. Try to make the best out of every race.

Enjoy your run. Enjoy Your day :0

Wish List Wednesday… Changing Minds and Changing it Up

A common theme in some of my posts is need for companionship and friendship. Another common theme is my need to change things up somewhat with my cooking. Both are addressed again today.

Todays running wish…

I wish I could change one of my non-running friends into a running friend!

Set up- “I only run when I am being chased”

This is not something that will necessarily save me money, but it will add quality to my running without adding expense. No seriously. Most peole hate running and I am well aware of that. They think I am a weirdo for the multiple workouts I do and the fact that I seem to enjoy the challenge of long distances. My friends may admire my dedication to my passion and my achievement, but they still regard it as something that doesnt interest them at all. Running is hard work. Running is boring. “I only run when I am being chased” are common lines I get back from my non-running friends. The thing is- most of my good friends are fairly healthy people. For example- one of my good co-worker teaching friends is in tremedndous shape, she is a smart eater and does an intense dance class at her local gym. A mother of 2, her fitness level is outstandingly high. She could run. She hates it. There are more examples like it. I guarantee you if I could introduce one or 2 of them to some light running, they would enjoy it. They would find it enlightening, engaging, enthralling, and be hooked by that runners high. After all, I went from hating it to loving it in a very short period of time.  It doesnt seem to be a skill Im good at- translating my interests to others. I would like to try though. I would love to be able to jog it out with a close friend and enjoy the day.  A different kind of running achievement accomplished- value added (to my life and running and others) at zero expense

Im pretty sure that this is how most of my non-running friends think there experience will end 😉

The Ideal Wish- Just get to a 5k

That I could convince just one of my non runner friends to jog with me a few times and then maybe run a 5k with me. For as much as I hate paying for races, I would pace a friend of mine to a nice finish in a 5k if it meant solidifying their interest in running. It would be worth the 20$ to me. I do like running with people, but I prefer to spend time with those I know well and it would just be enjoyable to jog with a buddy than jog by myself or with strangers. Yes I have bonded with new runners who I met after pub runs and 5ks, but it isnt the same. To already have a good friend and to get them into something that you love, would be a thrill that would really make me ecstatic about my running passion.  There are not many options out there that can add a fun component to your running without additional $$$$,  and this really could.

I think a 5k is totally doable for just about everyone out there, including my non running friends

The Reality-  A series of non-options currently

I cant see this happening any time soon in time. Its sad, but a combination of busy schedules, lack of interest, and various injuries have prevented any interested parties from lacing it up. My friend HS is super busy and has her own interests. I tried to convince her to do the 5k I just ran (she expressed some interest) but not so much with the follow through.  My friend ME who stays with sometimes loves to hear stories about my running and even has expressed an interest in being into it. However he has a couple of serious back injuries and I dont want to shove him headlong into something when he is not healthy. Those are my 2 best options. There was a guy I trained capoeira with who tried to get into it.  He wanted to do a 5k, and I was game to help him out. Then his schedule changed and I dont get to see him any more. Another capoeiraista who I was just becoming friends with starting jogging to lose weight, but then quickly hurt himself and gave it up. I guess the reality is that it is difficult to get into running and sustain it as a habit until the point where you actually enjoy that. Compound that with the fact that Im not the persuasive person in the world, dont have the best social skills, and like my group of friends small and that means it will be difficult to get anyone I know currently into running.

A lot of beginning runners ( I know of) give up early when they develop a small injury and never try again. Disappointing but understandable

The Possible- 41 x 40

Make a new friend, and get them into running. In fact I have decided to add that phrase specifically into the 40 x 40 list I just created. A 40 x 40 list is forty things you want to do by the time you are forty.  I compiled mine just last week and it is full of the ridiculous, the challenging, the sublime, and the simple. This wish can be become a reality if it is put on the list and it will be. So now its a 41 x 40 list. I think with the new direction in my life, there will be plenty of opportunity to get it done.

Now onto my nutrition wish….

I wish I knew I how to grill….

Set up- Nothing like some grilled food

Holy crap do I love grilled food. Grilled chicken, grilled pork,grilled fish, and even now grilled veggies. You name it, and you put it on the grill, and I love it. Done right, it add such flavor and quality to your food. My dad is a stellar grillsmith, my mom, my younger sister, and even my brother. I never learned how. I have never been comfortable around grills. I dont particularly like being responsible around large tanks of propane, nor  am I comfortable with large amounts of charcoal and lighter fluid. Plus I hate cleaning up and maintenance which are 2 things that people who grill a lot have to do. Finally my house (townhouse) is not the ideal spot for grilling. There is a lack of space for it for sure. Still I have seen my neighbors swing it, so if I was better at it I could make it work. If I was halfway decent at it, I could probably use my parents range as well.  I would love to be able to grill. I would love to be able to have that flavorful variety to my cooking at only a smaller additional cost. I would love to spice up my cooking with some lovely grill marked meats and veggies

That just looks delicious. I can practically smell it right now- but could I make it?

The Ideal Wish- Become that grillsmith

That I was a grill master. That I would take lovely marinated or rubbed pieces of chicken, pork, and beef and slap them down in that grill and hear that sizzle. That I could enjoy the fun experience of stepping outside and smelling that delicious cooking grill smell which is unlike any other in the entire world. That I could bite into that juicy goodness that is a perfectly grilled piece of food and savor the flavor. That I wasnt intimidated by the gas tanks, charcoal, and fluid- elements of fire- that a grill causes.  That I could enjoy a cooking option which is healthy and allows me to to use simple ingredients which ultimately dont cost that much, and which I largely had already. That I could cook well in the semi primal way.

Grilling offers so many possibilities, and healthy ones at that

The Reality- Lack of space, experience,  and $$$

Firstly I dont really have a lot of money to afford a nice grill or even a small hibachi style for that matter. I probably could make the smaller one happen, but I want some practical experience doing that before I own and I have none so far. Like I said, I dont trust myself around machines that could cause an immense fire. I also know myself too well. I dont like cleaning stuff up. I ruined my George Foreman grill fairly cheap these days) because I was a slacker about cleaning it off, and finally and begrudgingly throw it out. So with a regular sized grill would I be much better?  Im not sure, so I dont know if it is fully wise to invest in a grill. I feel like I would enjoy it the first few times I learned how to do it and slack on the upkeep and end up ruining it.

I loved my Foreman when I first got it, but I was pathetic about taking care of it. It is one of the reasons that I never bought a grill when I moved into my townhouse

The Possible- Practice first or back to the Foreman

I would like to try supervised grilling a few times on my parents grill or a friends grill. Under the guidance of an experienced cooker and in a relaxed environment so I could get some of the basics down and just feel more comfortable. Then possibly I would get a small hibachi, and make it a point to grill out once a month. If I simplified it to that a little, I could make more of an effort to be responsible about it. Or– I could get another George Foreman grill and use it a lot and make a deal with myself. If I can maintain that, then maybe I can advance myself to getting a smaller grill and doing the once a month thing that way. Either process is a possibility these days.

Maybe Ill get one of these little guys down the line once I know what i am doing

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

A Huge Weekend Runcheap Thank You To….. Rest Days

This weekend’s huge runcheap thank you goes out to something I need to more consistently. Take a day off. It is so counterintuitive to me and surprisingly hard to do. But when I do- I always feel the benefits down the line.

Thank you rest days!

Thank you for allowing the opportunity to catch up on all the small things in my life!

Thank you for giving me enjoyment and getting all that soreness out of body so I can run strong again!

I hate rest days. I really do.  For someone who loves fitness and exercise with the tenacity that I do, they seem almost worthless. For someone who loves a good cardio challenge or a hard session of strength training, it just seems like a wasted day. For someone who loves to run- to not run a typical workout day is almost as mentally taxing as actually running can be. Seriously a day with no exercise? A day without that mental and physical vibe that has let me  be physically fit, mentally confident, and more overall healthy? A day without the challenge, intensity, commitment and achievement that keeps me focused on my life both as a runner and in general? Why?

I class I really would need to take if it existed 🙂

It gets even harder for me to take rest days when you realize that I believe that the human body can be pushed way further than most people think it can. I operate under the belief that could almost always do a little more. Some runners take rest days throughout the week, others on a 10 day plan, or a 2 week plan. Others do it by feel- they simply take a day off when they need one. I tend to refuse to stop myself from exercise unless I have a good reason to take a day off. Im self motivated and structured enough to make this stick for weeks on end.

I realized today that I hadnt taken a rest day since the day before this race. Thats just absurdly long.

So why am I doing a post thanking days off? Because rest days are essential. I realized today that I hadnt taken one in well over 2 months. Thats too long regardless of how intense or focused I am. And borderline dangerous as well.

Why are rest days essential? Why do I need to start structuring more of them into my plan? Lets use today’s rest day as an example:

– To allow the mild tendonitis in my foot to rest and not become something more serious

– To allow that perpetual sorenesss in my hamstrings and legs to flush out

– To rejuvenate my energy stores

– To be able to accomplish all those little cleaning tasks around the house I have been ignoring but need to do

– To be able check out a movie- “Hunger Games” (Because “Avengers was sold out, damnit!)

– To get a different perspective on Sundays

– To be able to sort through mail for the firs time in close to 2 months.

– To be able to hit a new exercise week refreshed

– To spend time with the cats

Ugh sold out on my rest day, switched to “Hunger Games” which was a decent flick

Every runner needs a really good rest day. I just feel they need to be worthwhile and  not days when you couch for the entire time and try to clear out all your old episodes of “Restaurant Impossible” or “Castle”.  Couch potato days like those are best saved for tapering before big races (when minimal exertion is best); rest days should be savored and enjoyed. You have earned them. You are mentally there enough to know that a day off wont derail your physical fitness and wont get you out of the habit of intense exercise. In the past I have had the following 3 superb experiences on rest days

1. Capoeira Batizado- My last rest day before this one, I attended our yearly capoeira celebration where you change cords if so earned and celebrate each other’s successes.

2. Cruise Day 1- My parents paid for a 3 day cruise for my family, and the 1st day I made myself stay away from the fitness center and just chill out. It allowed all my tension to slip away. I ejoyed copious food, my families company, and savored the feeling of being on vacation

3. Blueberry Festival – Around this time last year, my friend Heidi and I checked out a local blueberry festival put on by the small Keel and Curley Winery. We picked blueberries for reduced price,did a fruity wine sampling, ate blueberry shortcake, and purchased a few cheap goodies. Then I want to a friends going away party and had a great time

This Blueberry Festival was top notch, sadly could not round up anyone this year. I highly recommend it

Days off like that are what I hope for when I take them. Today wasnt necessarily like that, but it will certainly be worthwhile from a “Energy Refreshment” type of a scenario.  Rest days help you enjoy life. Rest days help you stay injury free so you arent spending money at the doctors. Rest days mean you dont add extra wear and tear on your workout gear, tap your food resources more, and cause you to search for more caffeine. They save you money in small ways. Or maybe than save you money long term by saving your body. They keep you healthy and running strong,  so you can run cheap. Either way a huge runcheap thank you goes to rest days. Thank you again rest days. Now I will finish enjoying the rest of mine.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0 

or- enjoy your day off 😉

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