Back to the Basics

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Not every workout needs to be one that leaves your muscles quivering, your pulse racing, and your breath short. Some days the best form of exercise you can give your body is simply going for a walk. Your body needs time to heal from those more demanding workouts, and a long walk one day will help loosen up your muscles and give them time to recuperate and strengthen.  Walking is therapeutic for both the body and mind. This site shares several benefits of a long walk: http://www.active.com/walking/Articles/Long_Walks_Benefit_Mind_and_Body.  It can be a great time to reflect and relax. I always look forward to days I can take it easy and go for a walk with my little dog, Hallie. We love walking at our local nature trail. If you don’t live near any trails, http://www.mapmywalk.com/ can help you plan your own route. When I go on walks, I prefer to bring my furry friend with me, but walks are great with or without a four-legged companion.

 

 

The World’s Largest Running Series

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The Warrior Dash is a 5k with a very challenging twist. It’s actually 3.4 miles, which is slightly longer than a 5k, and throughout it there are around 13 obstacles to overcome. I was exhausted by the end of it and quite sore for the next couple of days, but I loved every minute of it. You don’t realize how tired you are or how much your legs hurt from running up hill after hill when in between you’re busy scaling walls, jumping over fire, crawling under barbed wire, swimming over water obstacles, and much more. It’s definitely a physically demanding course, but even if you’re not yet in extremely good shape, you can still complete it. Simply go your own pace, and it helps to have someone run it with you. Last May was the first time the Warrior Dash made it to Arkansas. It took place in a little town called Amity and had a turn out of approximately 6000 competitors. This site provides a great description of Arkansas’ first Warrior Dash:http://www.arkansasoutside.com/warrior-dash-arkansas/.

I was extremely intimidated at the thought of tackling such a challenging course, but the sense of accomplishment afterwards definitely made it worth while. Afterall, who doesn’t want to become a warrior and receive a sweet viking hat?

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I can’t wait to conquer the 2013 Warrior Dash! Here’s a link in case you want to make the right decision and become a warrior too: http://www.warriordash.com/

Iron Pig

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If you don’t want your first 5k to be a large-scale race with thousands of runners, I recommend you pick a local race instead of a nation or world-wide one. One of the first 5ks I ever ran was one called the Iron Pig Festival in Fayetteville, AR (https://www.facebook.com/IronPigFestival). There was only around 100 runners participating. It took place on an airport runway so it was very simple and not too challenging since the entire 3 miles had no hills. Even though this race didn’t have any special flourishes like the color run, it was still a lot of fun. Complete strangers shout words of encouragement to all the runners. Hearing their support helps provide that extra bit of exertion needed to run across the finish line. I’m always amazed at how incredibly nice the people are at races. Their attitude creates a friendly, happy environment and makes the whole experience more enjoyable. The great state of Arkansas is full of friendly 5ks: http://www.arkansasrunner.com/. Pick a race and see first-hand what all the hype is about!

Happiest 5k on the Planet

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One of my favorite things about running is the multitude of incredibly fun races to participate in. Many people might be deterred by the word “race”. For a beginner it can seem a bit daunting. However, I quickly learned that these racing events are actually a fun, friendly, and laid back environment. There is always a group of runners that are there to win and take it very seriously, but the majority of people are there not to try to beat everyone but to simply enjoy themselves. When I sign up for a 5k, I set a personal goal to improve on my time from the last 5k that I ran. I never have any intention to try to make the top 3. I run for myself and don’t worry about what place I’m in.

The Color Run is a great 5k for beginners! In fact, this 5k isn’t even timed. There is no first, second, and third to compete for. It exists solely for fun, and that is exactly what it is. I ran it with my brother Nathan, his friend, Theresa, and my boyfriend, Norm. Thousands of people were there to experience it. Everyone begins the race with a white shirt on, and by the end of the 3.1 miles you’ll be covered head to toe in colors.

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As if being covered in powdered color at each checkpoint wasn’t entertainment enough, Nathan ran with a horse head mask on providing even more entertainment for everyone we encountered. If you’re wanting to test the waters of the racing world and see how fun it can be for yourself, sign up for the next Color Run closest to you: http://thecolorrun.com/. I highly recommend the color run! Whether it’s your first race or your 500th, you’re guaranteed to have a great time! However, if you’d rather not be periodically pelted with color, check out this site and find another type of race near you: http://www.runnersworld.com/race-finder

Learn to Make Time

Once you make the conscious decision to begin exercising regularly, it can often be difficult to find the time to fit a workout into your daily schedule. As I stated in my first post, I attribute my desire to stay active to my three older brothers. I’ve already shared a little bit about Nathan and Tim and how they have served as my main inspiration. My oldest brother, Joseph, is the one who helped me realize that no matter how busy I may seem, there’s always time to fit in a workout.

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Joseph has a degree in graphic design and is a founder and part owner in a new design and print company in Fayetteville, AR called Moxy Ox. Joseph has devoted a lot of hours and hard work into the company to help make it a success. On top of his career, Joseph is a full time husband and father to his wife, Cortney, and his two adorable children, Raylei (age 4) and Sylar (age 2). As you can imagine, he doesn’t have a lot of spare time on his hands. Despite this, he manages to make himself wake up an extra hour early in the morning so he can go for a run or go to the gym before work.

Last year, my freshman year of college, I wasn’t very good at devoting myself to a regular workout routine. I would just go whenever I didn’t work, if I felt like had spare time, or if I didn’t feel too tired. I wondered how Joseph managed to juggle all of his obligations and still find the time for the gym. Now I realize how important it is to stick to a schedule. If you workout at the same time every day, you will fall into a routine and find that making your trip to the gym becomes as natural as going to work or school each day. Perhaps mornings aren’t your thing. Don’t worry, I’m in the same boat. As much as I would love to be able to wake up at 5am every day for the gym, I find that I enjoy my cozy bed a little too much to make that happen. I prefer to workout in the evenings or at night. If you have a long lunch break, that can also be a great time to get a quick workout in. Harvard Health has an article explaining the value of maintaining an exercise routine: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Sticking-with-your-exercise-program.htm. If you have trouble structuring your busy life, you might find these tips on time management beneficial: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/time-management/wl00048.

Find Your Motivation

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The desire to get fit had been planted in my mind when I saw Nathan begin to make his transformation. When my brother, Timothy, joined the United States Marine Corps, I became even more dedicated to an active lifestyle. Tim has been in the Marines for about two years now and is stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He left on a nine month deployment at the end of March in 2012 as a part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and returned to Camp Lejeune on December 16th. You can read a little about their mission and what this readiness response team encountered on their time away here: http://www.24thmeu.marines.mil/. They had several grueling field exercises in different countries along the way. During those exercises, they faced extreme conditions and learned how to overcome them. If I reach a point during a run where I start to feel lazy and just don’t want to push myself any more, I think of my brother and all the other men and women overseas who don’t have the luxury of stopping just because they’re tired. On my longest run, I know I still didn’t push myself as hard as the 24th MEU did while climbing the mountains of Djibouti in 130⁰ heat with 80lb packs weighing them down. When I think about it that way, it puts things into perspective and makes whatever level of fatigue I’m fighting seem a little less significant.

I’m extremely proud of Tim for his service and of Nathan for his amazing weight loss success, and I’m thankful that I have them to serve as such motivating role models for me. Finding the motivation to better yourself can often be harder than the actual physical act of doing it. I believe in order to achieve the success you desire, you must first figure out who, or what, motivates you. Once you find that motivation, you’ll be amazed by what your body is capable of. Perhaps you’re struggling to find something that you feel will truly serve as a good motivator for you. Look over this list of 31 ways to motivate yourself: http://zenhabits.net/31-ways-to-motivate-yourself-to-exercise/. Chances are you’ll discover a number of things that can give you the push you need kick start your new active lifestyle.

What’s Stopping You?

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As I previously mentioned, my brothers are the reason I became invested in becoming fit. It started with my brother, Nathan, and I’d like to share a little bit about his story. He graduated from Arkansas Tech University with a degree in information technology.  The job he got was putting too much stress on him. He gained a considerable amount of weight, and his health was at risk. Nathan knew he had to make a change. He began running each day after work. After a few months he decided to sign up for a 5k to motivate him further. Several 5ks later, he moved on to tackle 10ks. Once he got a couple of those under his belt, he completed two half marathons. That still wasn’t enough for him. Two years and over 100 pounds later, Nathan ran his first full marathon last October. 26.2 miles; a distance most people can’t even imagine walking without stopping, let alone running! Nathan plans on running more marathons in the future and is also about to add cycling and swimming to his training regimen. His ultimate goal is to one day compete in a triathlon.

 Nathan has truly been an inspiration to me. I realized that if he can do it, why can’t I? It’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. I’m nowhere near the best or fastest, but I’m still faster than those at home on the couch. I’ve already completed several 5ks, so now I’m moving on to training for a 10k. Following in Nathan’s footsteps, I’m using the Hal Higdon training program that helped him achieve such success. The training schedule can be found at: http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51122/10-K-Training-Guide-Novice-Program. Another popular training program for beginners to follow called Couch to 5k: http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/ . So what’s stopping you? Pick a program, set your goals, and run.