Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How I Lost 50 Pounds in 5 Months

Here are 7 things I did to lose (on average) 10 pounds a month.
  1. WATER.  I can't stress this one enough.  Drink lots of water.  There are many benefits from drinking water including helping with hunger and boosting your metabolism.  Those diet sodas and alcoholic beverages do nothing but kill your metabolism which can actually make you gain weight.  Bring water with you everywhere!  (unsweetened tea and black coffee work too)
  2. Do some kind of physical activity every day.  It doesn't have to be running a marathon.  Take a walk around the neighborhood, take the stairs at work, or chase your kids around the house!
  3. Track your workouts and calories.  Being the tech/math geek that I am, I found an app on my phone (Noom weight loss coach) which allowed me to easily estimate how many calories I was eating every day.  Compare those with the calories you burn working out (Noom also keeps track of that!).  You need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight and build your metabolism.
  4. Try to eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of 2-3 big meals.  This also helps to build your metabolism.  Make sure you eat a good breakfast every day and try not to eat much a few hours before bed.  If you get hungry late, try eating something good like fruit to satisfy the hunger.  I usually try to have things like almonds and fresh fruit around the house.
  5. When going out to eat look for the healthier meals.  I know it is tough when everyone else is ordering a double cheeseburger.  I look for things like fruit/nut salads, grilled chicken/salmon, and whole grains.  Most restaurants will have items that are under a certain amount of calories.  Choosing these items will also help with #2 because you will have an idea of how many calories they have.
  6. Lay off the sweets!  This one is really hard for me because I love chocolate, ice cream, and warm cookies. :)  The easiest thing I can tell you is get them out of the house.  If they are not there, it is much easier to turn to an apple or orange to satisfy that sweet tooth.
  7. Sleep.  You guessed it, sleep affects your metabolism as well.  Having 7-8 hours of sleep is much better for you than 4-5 (for other reasons as well).
After following these for a while, you will get used to this lifestyle change and keep the weight off.  I dropped 50 pounds in 5 months and have kept it off since.  I do run somewhere between 25-35 miles a week but you can ask my wife, I eat quite a bit to keep up with that workout routine!  Once again the amount of calories burned versus the amount of calories eaten are what you are looking for to lose the weight and boost your metabolism.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Why The Boston Marathon?

One day... One day...

People who aren't runners probably have no idea why The Boston Marathon means so much to a runner.  I am hoping to explain the best I can why this marathon stands above the rest in the running world without diving too much into the history.

First off, it is the worlds oldest annual marathon.  It started back in 1897 and is ran on Patriots Day every year.  It attracts over 500,000 spectators each year and an average of about 20,000 participants.  Last year it had over 26,000 registered runners and has been as high as 38,000.

One thing that people don't always realize is that you have to qualify to run in The Boston Marathon.  To qualify, you must complete a certified marathon course in a certain time depending on your age and sex.  Below were the qualifying standards for 2013:
Boston Marathon
Qualifying Standards

(effective for 2013 race)
18–343hrs 5min3 hrs 35min
35–393hrs 10min3 hrs 40min
40–443hrs 15min3 hrs 45min
45–493hrs 25min3 hrs 55min
50–543hrs 30min4 hrs 0min
55–593hrs 40min4 hrs 10min
60–643hrs 55min4 hrs 25min
65–694hrs 10min4 hrs 40min
70–744hrs 25min4 hrs 55min
75–794hrs 40min5 hrs 10min
80+4hrs 55min5 hrs 25min
To put this in perspective, my 1st and 2nd marathons I ran in 3:50 and 3:44 respectively.  From what I have read in the running community, a lot of people try to finish under 4 hours.  That was my original goal when I set out to run a marathon.  To qualify for Boston I have to run 39 minutes faster then my last marathon time.  That is about 1:30 faster per mile!

So if I can get my time down to 3:04:59 then I am in, right?  Not exactly.  The 20,000 spots are filled giving faster runners priority so even if you qualify you aren't guaranteed to be in the race.  What a bummer that would be!

Once you actually get qualified, you have to prepare for the race.  There are training plans out there tailored just for this race.  The Boston Marathon is considered to be one of the more difficult marathon courses because of the "Newton hills" and specifically "Heartbreak Hill".  These hills start at mile 16 and challenge runners with late climbs after running downhill up to that point.  Heartbreak Hill only rises 88 feet but it hits racers at the worst part of the race.  Between the 20th and 21st mile marks, muscle glycogen stores are most likely depleted (what runners call "hitting the wall") and cause a lot of runners to walk up it.

Heartbreak Hill got its name because of the race in 1936 where defending champion John A. "Johnny" Kelley overtook Ellison "Tarzan" Brown on the hill, giving him a pat on the shoulder as he passed him.  This gesture motivated Brown, who caught up and pulled ahead of Kelley to win the race, "breaking Kelley's heart."

The history, qualifying, and overall difficulty of the race makes a pretty good motivating tool for serious runners.  It is the Super Bowl of marathons and one day I will hopefully be posting about my experience in it!

Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Training and Parenting

Behold! The Fitness-Equipment-Lock-inator!

"Dude, I was raised by ocelots, literally. Disowned by my parents and raised by Central American wildcats, and you're telling me you lost a toy train? That's it? That's all you got? Really? I had to work as a lawn gnome, I was forced to wear hand-me-up girl's clothing, neither of my parents showed up for my birth!" - Dr. Doofenshmirtz

Hopefully we are all better parents than the ones Dr. Doofenshmirtz describes.  I am sure a few of you out there will understand my thoughts in this post though.  Balancing being a parent and trying to train for upcoming events is not an easy task.  Here are a few of the things I do to make it happen:

Early morning running/training - I want to spend as much time with my family as I can.  Working full time (and sometimes more than full time) can definitely limit the the time I have to spend with them.  Since most of the chores are done after they are in bed, getting up early while they are sleeping to run is the only option I have.  Sure the neighbors think I am crazy with all of my neon shirts, neon straps, and lighted headbands but its that or limit the time with my family.  I'll take the crazy option :)

Stretching or core during wind down time - Being able to spend time watching Phineas and Ferb with the family before bed time is a perfect time to stretch or do core exercises.  You can spend time with the family and use your Stretch-Inator!

Flexible Training Schedule - One thing about kids, they keep your life interesting.  I usually try to have 2-3 runs each week that I make sure I do.  I then leave time open for cross/easy runs to use as replacements.  This way if one of your kids crawl into your bed at 6AM in the morning with a bad dream and can't go back to sleep, you can spend that time comforting them and move your important run to the next day.

What about Races/Events? - This one is a little tougher because you can't adjust the schedule of races.  It all depends on your family but hopefully they support you and will want to make a day out of it.  Since my son is usually interested in my running, I sign him up for the kids runs when possible.  If you have never seen one of the kids runs, you should watch one because it is pretty entertaining.

What do you do to balance training and family?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Having trouble deciding what to wear for your run?

I was checking the weather tonight for my 6 mile run in the morning and wanted to pass on a site that I use all the time.  http://www.whattoweartool.com is a great site for figuring out what you should wear on your next run.  You have many options to nail down exactly what to wear.

The options include:
Time of Day
Workout Intensity
I like to feel...

I have used this site since I started running and it has always been right on the money for what to wear.  It is especially nice to have for those cold runs in the winter.  It even works great on a mobile device!  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How I got started.

225 to 175.  Looks like it was mostly in my face!

One thing I often get asked when talking about running and racing is "How did you get started?"  I will go through the basics of that story so that you can at least see how it all came about.

I never thought I would get into running.  Sure I attempted track and cross country during high school, but I never enjoyed it.  Back then I loved basketball and fought through my asthma every year in conditioning and basketball season.  Not even asthma attacks that involved waking in the middle of the night and not be able to breath stopped me from doing what I loved.

So what got me started?  About a year and a half ago I was 6' and around 225 pounds.  I never thought I was really fat or completely out of shape… until I had kids.  It started with my oldest son who loves to run.  He is always talking about how fast he is and how he is faster than me :-).  I found myself coming home from work every day to him wanting to run around the house and chase daddy.  The problem is that I was so drained by the time I got home from work that after a few attempts around the house, I would have to quit.  I still remember him yelling at me from the other side of the house - Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!

Being the tech geek that I am, I immediately started looking through the free apps of the day that I had collected over time on my Android.  I had to find something to not only track my progress but to hold myself accountable.  I found a few apps and decided to put them to the test.  No longer could I let my son become disappointed because his daddy was out of breath.

So one morning in 2011, I decided to get up early and go for a run.  This was a late October morning in Southern Indiana so it took quite a bit to even walk out that door and not go back to my warm bed.  I went out in a hoodie, basketball warm-up pants, and a pair of basketball shoes.  I hadn't gone a half mile before I had to stop and walk.  I could feel the cold air infecting my lungs while I heaved and wheezed.  I broke out my inhaler from my pocket and took a puff as I walked down the sidewalk.  Once I got my breathing back in order, I started to run again.  After 4-5 similar walks and 1.59 miles later, I came back to my house with a mind-numbing time of 19:30!

Every day I would try to go just a little bit further.  On days when it stormed or snowed, I stayed inside and worked the small weight bench in my basement and what felt like a 100 year old stationary bike given to me by my father in law.  I bought an actual pair of running shoes, started reading about running and eating right, and talked to a few friends that were taking on a weight loss plan at the time.  Before long, I didn't need to bring that inhaler with me on my runs and I was able to run the entire time.  I was noticing that I had more energy every day after work and was able to keep up with my son.  I was really starting to enjoy my morning jogs and the effects they had on me!

It was all downhill from there.  I signed up for a few races including a 5k, 10k, 10 miler, half marathon, and even ran my first marathon almost exactly a year after starting on that first run.  All it takes is a little determination to get things started and before long, you could be addicted to a more energetic and healthier life!

Keep an eye out for future posts with tips and tricks on how I got to where I am today.

Monday, May 6, 2013

In the beginning...

So, I am starting up this blog for a few reasons.  One main reason is that I have a goal of qualifying and running The Boston Marathon one day.  I am hoping that posting to a blog will help me stay focused and accountable for that goal.  Second, I wanted to keep a journal of my time, training, and results on the way to Boston Qualifying. Finally, I want to help inspire more people to live healthier lives.

It won't be all running related though. My work and family play a huge role in my life and I wouldn't be where I am today without them. Stay tuned and enjoy the journey.