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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… Competition and Downsizing

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

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

Onto this weeks wish….

I wish that I had athletic competition…..

Set up- Seeking friends

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

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

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

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

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

The Ideal Wish- Get back into sports

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

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

The Reality- Too far and too much 

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

The Possibility- College competition 

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

A not so subtle hint about this fall 🙂

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

Wish List Wednesday Updates

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

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

Wish- I wish I could like salad

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

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

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

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

Thank You San Antonio, Florida!

Thank you for letting me run your hills hassle free!

Thank you for demonstrating courtesy and unspoken friendliness to runners!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day :0

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 😉

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

Wish List Wednesday.. Night in and Night Out

This Wish List Wednesday focuses on things that should be taking place at night, first in general and then in my life.

My running wish….

I wish there were more nighttime races….

Set Up-  Nighttime Competition

If you have read any of my previous postings, you know Im in something of a race purgatory about a finding a distance longer than a 5k to run until July. It is really frustrating. I get why. Daytime in Florida is just too warm to even consider hosting a race. However, why not try a race at nighttime? One of the best races I have ever experienced is the July 4th Midnight Run and a lot of it was because of the experience of running at night. It was a cool gimmick, but in reality it worked out well for a host of reasons. A predictable Florida thunderstorm had cooled the night off, and although it was not cold, it certainly was not unbearably hot for  10k. So why dont more locations offer 5, 10, or 15ks at night in the Summer down here? I get that the incovneince and technical aspects to setting up a course is probably what precludes this from ever happening. Still, I think if a company were to put together a “Late Night Weekend Racing Series” over the summer in a few different locales, they would clean up and find a willing racing community

This is a great race they run at midnight every July 4th in Dunedin, Fl

The Ideal Wish- Moonlight Madness Racing Series

That there were 9 or 10 races over the summer that took place during the convenient hours of weekend nights. That instead of having to get up early, drag myself up with some caffeine (at cost) and drive drearily to my next race; I could go through the course of my day and be ready for my night time 10k. That I could pop over after work for a little night ttime 5k, 10 k on a Friday evening like I am doing for the Crazy Sombrero. That I could sign up for the newly created “Late Night Fun Run Series” or “Moonlight Madness Racing Series”, and get a reduced price to complete a set of after the sun comes down styled 10ks. That I could experience that unique buzz you get from completing a night time race and then head out for drinks or a movie or a chat with friends afterward

Running at night is a whole different kind of experience, and I mean that in a good way.

The Reality- Some, but not enough

The area is not completely devoid of night time races. The Oldsmar 5k which is famous locally for its connection to a local bar/microbrewery is run at night and trumpets the fact that it is. The Crazy Sombrero 5k in New Port Richey is also run at night, and I think that there is one more that doesnt come to mind at the moment. It is not enough for me. There should be a whole bunch. Nighttime races would probably present something of a logistical nightmare as far as working with townships, communities, and local businesses to set them up. Plus there are other factors like the social and drinking nature of people during the weekends. But their are also plenty of benefits to night time running. Due it in a smart location and runners will stay and frequent the location and spend money. Im willing to bet packet pickup would be more pleasant with everyone alert and more tolerably awake. Plus you might get a chance to involve the runner who cant make it for those morning runs in some competitive races.  Besides, as difficult as it may be, Im sure that “race-able” routes can be found.

Disney has added a "scary" nighttime race, but I need something closer and cheaper

The Possible- Pub Run Saves Again

The Fitniche Pub Run on Thursday night again is my answer here. In the absence of a night time race, I can use this enjoyable experience for whatever I chose. It is the same route every week,  so I can treat it as a clocked race. Plus they frequently have racing deals or promotions going on the store that are fun to check out. Afterwards I can pop over and frequent the local bookstore or head out to Brass Tap for a good hard cider. Besides that, I want to try to do more nighttime running on my own. Right now I run solely in the early mornings, and afternoons. I know safe routes that are runnable late at night, and it would be a good change of a pace to just randomly run post 10 pm. Get that night time buzz on my own. And at no cost of course.

This Pub Run 5k is becoming useful to me

Now onto my nutrition wellness wish…

I wish.. I was a better sleeper

Set Up- Never get enough

My year of student teaching and college in general destroyed my sleeping habits. I never really addressed them until they blew up hugely and dangerously in my face during a trip to Greece several years ago. Back then the problem was the same but different. I wasnt getting enough sleep. Back then I wasnt getting enough sleep because I wasnt eating right, wasnt getting enough exercise and had a horrid anxiety problem. I simply could not fall asleep. That is not the problem anymore. I could put my head down on the desk and pass out right now. Nowadays I am not getting enough sleep because my days are packed the brim to keep me focused, I make poor choices late at night, and because I dont get refreshing sleep on weekends. Too much caffeine, and too long of a commute also contribute to my current sleep dificulties. It has not effected my running yet. I know it will though, the more competitive I get and the deeper I get into this more focused training thing. I need to get more sleep, so that Im not lethargic during my non running workouts, my drives, and at my job. I just cant seem to figure it out and it is costing me tons in caffeine

Yay for sleeping comfortably like a fat, lazy, cat

The Ideal Wish- Magnificent 7

7 hours of sleep is the ideal to me. Whenever I get a full 7 hours of sleep, I feel completely refreshed the following day for whatever I need to do- Running, spinning, driving, couching, working, etc. 8 is nice once in a while, but 7 seems to be that magic number. I wish I could get that magic number more often than once every 3 weeks. To get 7 hours of nice, restful, sleep would be heavenly. It would also save me tons of money on what would I not spend on caffeine products to get me awake and energetic

The Reality- Not so Fab 5

I average about 5 hours of sleep on weekdays and maybe 6 on weekends. When I base build on Sundays, the weekend number goes down down down. Why? The long commutte both ways means the only way for me to integrate a hard running workout in the schedule is do to it at 5 am in the morning. My busy day including weight training, multiple nights of capoeira a week, and other items I am working on-  have cluttered my week a ton. On many nights, its 9:30, 10 or 11 before I get a chance to relax at my place. Not wanting to deprive myself of some healthy relaxing personal “whatever” time, I stay up too late and maybe end up with 5 hours sleep before my next day begins. On Friday nights if I am not being social (most nights) I want to capitalize on my free evening time so I try to stay up and get a lot done around the house, when I should be headed to slumber land early. On Saturdays when I should be sleeping in and enjoying a slight rest day, I get so bored I go on a cross training tirade of 3 hours consecutively. This requires me to get up early to get started. So I lose sleep and buy more caffiene to get me going. Sunday is my huge workout so again sleep gets lost.

Why not nap to make up sleep? On weekdays this is an impossiblity. On the weekends I have tried more of  it of  late but it is difficult to sustain for some reason and the few hours of sleep I may get are not restful. Bottom line, is I am not logging enough hours of sleep.

8:13? Yeah right

The Possibility- Building it in

Much like tapering in running, or slow base building. I will try to bring more sleep into the equation in general. Aim for an hour more a week, and a hour more a weekend to start with. This will require an initial acumulation of my weekend sleep total and habits to get a firmer number. Then I can see where I can throw in the hour, whether it be slight change over the course of several days,  or just one night where dedicate myself to 10:30 lights out. I need to develop a sleep plan and execute it in the same way I do with a workout schedule. I also need to start taking more rest days. Both will help me feel refreshed naturally.

Once again the caveat to this is that my living situation may change drastically in the next few months, so everything might need to be reorganized. When I undergo that change, sleep will definitely be something I have an immediate plan for so I can hit the ground running the following year.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

Race Purgatory!

May and June are one those times of year where if you are a distance runner like me, it becomes easy to lose focus and interest. There is not another half marathon on the docket in Florida until October, (which I have to hold of on anyway). In fact the only 10k I see on the schedule is in Midnight Run on July 4th. That leaves several months until my next serious race. It is a bit of a drag. I know why they do it. It does get unbelievably warm down here quickly, and before you know it a cool 5am run, has ceased to be cool anymore. For a wider audience, running a half in the Florida summer might lead to ghastly consequences. Personally, I think they could run 10ks or early starting 15ks (there needs to be more races around at this distance). There is none though, and that leaves very little to stoke the running fire.

What does that leave? 5ks. Only 5ks. I like a good 5k, dont get me wrong. They are excellent ways to build speed, and its good to only have to maintain that mental focus for a short period of time. A release from normal extended distance. The torrid pace reminds me of a lot of track meet races that you see on at the scholastic level. Also, they are everywhere and run neatly and early on Saturdays. Every weekend in Tampa,  for what seems like the next couple of months, there is a 5k. I probably will run in only one of them. Why?

The Secret Service 5k (seriously, not making jokes) is a very popular race down here in Tampa, but clocks in at 25$, so nope.

I have a pricing rule about 5ks. 25= No way, 20= Maybe, but probably not, 15= Most likely, Ill give it a shot. If I run a race for 15, I feel like I am getting my money’s worth in entertainment for the weekend short of 20$. It is almost a bargain to me.  Of course location plays a part in the decision making process as well. Even if the race is 15, if it is far away and I am going to even out on gas, then it is out. And no, I dont care about getting a tech shirt for a $25 5k. Nobody likes a nice running shirt like me, but they are not an incentive to do any race (no matter the distance).

This is one of the many 5k's down here that I wont be running even know it looks interesting

With a little more cash in the pocket, I would probably be running 5k’s all the time this summer, but it is not worth it to me. It is not cost effective, and I could come up with dozens of my own interesting 3.1 routes for free. This leaves me only one race scheduled for the whole remainder of the oxymoronic “Short Distance Running Season”- The Crazy Sombrero 5k.

Yep, you read that total right. I will be running this one, sans sombrero

I believe this is the second year they have run this tiny race in the Longleaf area of New Port Richey, Florida. It meets all my qualifications. 15$, it is run on a Friday evening, and a location that I literally have to pass to get home from work. I believe a local Crossfit gym sponsors the race, and you can also participate in a crossfit style challenge (no thanks) as well as the traditional fun run.

Why is it called the Crazy Sombrero?  They run the race on May 4th. A day before Cinco de Mayo and follow it up with I believe a small Mexican style party. Due to the name, a lot of the participants run or compete in Sombreros (again no thanks). Look it up, and you will find only a few small pics regarding it and participants donning said cultural hats. Look it up, and you will also find out that last year they posted the results by race number on their facebook page. And Not chronologically. No age groups, no real awards to speak of, no idea of placement- You are basically running for fun, a time, and for the small get together afterward. Like I have said before, you get what you pay for.

This New Port Richey Crossfit Gym puts on this race, with proceeds going to charity. Im curious to see how well it gets pulled off

Still, Im interested to see how well I run in the evening, and I know a few others running in this race. Plus lots of social opportunity may present itself following the race. I think it will overall be an enjoyable time.

Short on availability and short on cash my race opportunities are limited. A great option might be to start signing up way in advance for the upcoming year; but I could be in a whole new location the following year so I have to hold up on that too. This again locks me in race purgatory. When you are struck in race purgatory, your training also kind of sinks into that purgatory too. I have clear goals, but when they only race in front of you the next few months is based on a Mexican hat, they start to seem very far away.

Not sure how I feel about the emblem, but $15 is $15. Im ready to run this race as well as I can

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy yur 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… My New Balance 480 Sneakers

This weekend’s huge runcheap thank you is a shout out to a pair of running shoes that were my first and are still heavily involved in the sneaker rotation.

Thank you New Balance 480’s!

You were my first running shoe, you never failed me, and you still play a huge role in my training !

Thank you for being sturdy, multi functional and durable so that I didnt need to waste more money on footwear!

My first ever sneaker purchase as a runner. A total success

I have said in previous posts how I am not like other runners who spend hours/days/years/months even pontificating about what running shoes to wear. Just not my thing. Part of it is born out of expense, part out of disinterest.  I find conversations about running shoes particularly uninteresting, although I do admire the designs and colors on race mornings as a distractor. Additionally I should note that I often hear or read about runners cycling through multiple pairs of shoes per year, sometimes as many as three. Wow is what I have to say to that. I obviously dont have the cash flow for that, nor do I have the expertise to know when they need to be replaced. Some people do it by mileage, some do it by changing shoe shape, some people do it by duration of time. Most people who get multiple pairs throughout the year have a system.

I do it more by feel and paycheck. I have the read the articles about suggested mileage but I never remembered the number, and nor do I trust it all that much. I have seen photos of blogs of changing shoe shape and when it is time to change it, but Im skeptical. I have had comfrtable anfd functional shoes for many years with awkward shapes. Besides- ever put on a old pair of worn down shoes and feel how comfortable they feel despite being distorted a little? They are comfortable for a reason, because they still basically work. As far as tread goes, I admit to being confused about how to tell that of a sneaker.

With no “science” to back me up,  I chose to buy shoes when I can or on my arbitraty “its time” type moments. This has happeened twice in my short lived running career. About a year ago when I decided I was seriously getting into running, I deicded to go buy a pair of actual running shoes. Kind of an official recognition of my new interest. I went to Dick Sporting Cards with a gift card and purchased an on sale pair of New Balance 480 Running Sneakers for 60$ (well only 10 with the gift card). I knew they werent the best, I knew they were on the middle to low end of the cost spectrum for a reason. At the time I didnt understand why because I was too lazy to do actual research about sneakers beforehand.  But they looked right and when I put them on my feet, they felt right. I walked and then jogged for a tiny bit  in the store and then they were mine. The whole process probably took 20 minutes.

Those shoes have served my admirably well. They gave me such confidence as a slowly built up mileage approaching my longer races later in the year. There were literally zero problems with them. They debuted on on Midnight July 4th Race where I ran really well for me at the time. With them on my feet, and with no Garmin at the time, I smoked my first Half Marathon- the Blue Moon Half in Palm Harbor with a 1:42. Way better than I ever expected. Then I had back to back 10k PR’s in them in November and December. I knew I put a lot of mileage on  them by this point and that it was probably time for a change. However I held onto them for one more race.

The New Balance 480’s closed out their tenure as my 1st tier running shoe with my first full marathon at Disney in January. I knew it was a time to switch to something new, but it is poor practice to make drastic changes that close to the race. So I waited until my 1st 26.2 was done before buying my new pair of running shoes. I have to admit that I did it with a fair amount of sadness.

The replacement pair. Saucony Shadow Genesis, a little lighter and also a great shoe.

There was nothing particularly wrong with them (I wanted to try something a little lighter for races), which is one of the reasons I still use them. The NB 480’s are now my gym shoe. I lift weights in them, spin in them, take group fitness classes in them, cross train in them, and most importantly run on he treadmill in them. They take a beating because I use my gym all the time. Still, no worse for the wear. A year later and plenty of use and they are still reliable, usable, and comfortable. Thats a good shoe.

Without a lot of extra money to buy different types of sneakers, it is most important to me that a sneaker is durable. These ones have been. As a result, I have only had to buy 1 new pair of running shoes this year. This is a methodology which I will continue no matter what anyone says. The NB’s have sold me on this. They have saved me a bunch of money and allowed me to train healthy and injury free for close to a year now. They have most certainly kept me running strong and without a doubt running cheap. So again, thank You New Balance 480s for keeping me on the road and in the gym every day, upright and training hard.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

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