Tag Archives: Running

Keep Your Health and Fitness Intents by Varying Your Routine

bepresenteachmomentThe most popular resolutions that are made for New Year’s relate to health and fitness. At Intent we really push the idea that you should strive not to make resolutions or physical goals like “I want to lose 30 pounds” but dig deeper in yourself and set intentions about how you want to feel for the new year – “I want to feel healthier and have a better sense of wellness.” It’s also important that to achieve your intent you set realistic smaller goals to motivate you to satisfy the intent desire in your soul. But once you have set your intent and created realistic landmarks to help you get there, how do you stay on track? According to StatisticBrain.com, 24% of people never reach their intended resolutions.

Your chances of succeeding at your intent increase as long as you keep the passion for it alive, and that means not letting yourself get bored. More than half of new exercisers quit within three to six months after starting a workout program, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). If you get bored or dread working out then you are much less likely to keep up the regimen. So how do you step out of your comfort zone? Try these tips.

  1. Try a new healthy food or recipe once a week – By expanding your food vocabulary you force yourself to learn more about the nutritional values of food, making it easier for you to make decisions about meals and snacks in the long term. Think of finding a new recipe as a new adventure. You can learn to love new foods or love your current favorites in brand new ways and this will prevent you from getting burned out on the same routine meals. “Find healthy foods you love, or learn creative ways to prepare foods so that eating is not a punishment, but a pleasant, (sometimes even spiritual) experience that involves mindfulness and togetherness,” says Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood.
  2. Take a group fitness class – There are so many ways to get in shape besides tying yourself to a treadmill or elliptical. It can be as simple as going for walks outside or changing your running route. Look at your local fitness center for their classes and pick something that you’ve never tried before. In September, Sports Club/LA launched their “Recess” classes, which helped adults work out by playing the games they had so much fun playing as a child.  Or you may try one of their Blitz classes which is a full body work out designed to improve your endurance, strength and power. Take a yoga class for a month and then switch to cardio dance classes. Not only do you allow yourself the chance to try new things and meet new people, but also you work out different parts of the body and you allow exercising to be something you really enjoy rather than an appointment with a machine you’ve grown to dread. You are not a hamster on a wheel, so why create a work out routine that makes you feel like one?
  3. Stay centered and in touch with your intent – Sometimes our intents evolve as time goes on and it is important to stay connected to that feeling. Trust yourself to change as your intent changes. By building a meditation or yoga practice to keep your center you can feel when a routine has started to not work and you can use your inner instincts to adapt your routine to what your body and mind are telling you it needs. “Physical activity along with peaceful practices such as yoga or meditation to help build a refreshed sense of self. This is the glue that seals in the new lifestyle as the body begins to change physically, resulting in a new stream of motivation,” Sherwood explains.

By combining these tips you not only increase your chances of reaching your intent, but you also give yourself more opportunities to grow and learn more about your health. Being adventurous with your fitness and nutrition routines not only makes the journey more interesting but you get a deeper appreciation for the journey as you go on, and that will propel you forward. We hope you take these tips to heart and that your 2014 is healthier than ever.

The Science of Why Sprinting Improves Endurance

Jens Bangsbo, of the University of Copenhagen, has shown that if you want to run, cycle or swim faster at any distance, you have to train at a pace that is almost as fast as you can move (Journal of Applied Physiology, November 2009).  He asked competitive distance runners to reduce their mileage by 25 percent, and to run 8 to 12  30-second sprints  2-3 times a week, with some additional 0.6-0.8 mile sprints 1 or 2 times per week, for 6 to 9 weeks. The control group of runners continued their regular training program, and showed no improvement.  The sprint group improved both their 3K (1.8 mile)  and 10K (6 mile) race times by more than three percent (more than a minute in the 10-K race).  Half of them ran their best times ever, even though many had been racing for more than five years.

Two years ago, Dr. Bangsbo did ground-breaking research supporting the leading theory that exhaustion of the sodium-potassium pump is the major cause of muscle fatigue during exercise (Acta Physiologica, November 2007).  In this new study, he shows how sprint training improves a muscle’s capacity to pump potassium back inside muscle cells during exercise, which helps all athletes run or cycle faster in competition, even in endurance events such as marathons and multi-day bicycle races.

A muscle can contract only if it has an electrical charge across the muscle cell membrane.  This electrical charge comes mainly from having sodium primarily outside the cell and potassium primarily inside the cell.  This higher concentration of sodium outside the cell and higher concentration of potassium inside the cell is maintained by sodium-potassium pumps in the cell membranes.  The pumps get their energy from an enzyme called ATPase.

When the brain sends electrical signals along nerves leading to each muscle fiber, sodium moves rapidly into muscle cells followed by an equivalent movement of potassium out of the cells, causing the muscle fibers to contract.  However, the sodium-potassium pump cannot pump potassium back into the cells as fast as the rapidly-contracting muscle cells move potassium out.

Dr. Bangsbo showed that during rapid contractions, muscle cells lose potassium so fast that there is a doubling of the potassium outside cells in less than a minute.  The electrical charge between the inside and outside of muscle cells is reduced, and they contract with much less force until finally they cannot contract at all.  During continuous contractions of muscles, the loss of force from a muscle contraction is directly proportional to the amount of potassium that goes outside the cells.

Over time, repeated muscle contractions themselves will markedly increase the ability of the sodium-potassium pump to pump potassium into cells.  The greater the force on a muscle during training, the more effectively the potassium pump can pump potassium back into muscles, resulting in greater endurance for the athlete. So intense training is necessary for endurance, and any training strategy that increases the number of intense workouts will give the athlete greater endurance.

You can also increase the effectiveness of  the sodium potassium pumps by being excited before a race (which increases adrenalin), and by eating before and during races (which raises insulin levels).  Hormones known to strengthen the sodium-potassium pump, and therefore to increase endurance, include adrenalin, insulin, insulin-like growth factor I, calcitonins, amylin, thyroid, testosterone and cortisones.

How to apply this information to your training program:
You cannot gain maximum endurance just with continuous exercise. To improve your potassium-sodium pumps, you have to put maximum force on your muscles. This requires some form of interval training.  (CAUTION: Intense exercise can kill a person with blocked arteries to the heart; check with your doctor before increasing the intensity of your program.)

Intervals are classified as short intervals that take fewer than 30 seconds and do not generate significant amounts of lactic acid; and long intervals that take more than two minutes and generate large amounts of lactic acid.  The longest you can exercise with maximal force on muscles is about 30 seconds. All competitive athletes should do some sort of 30-second interval. Nobody knows how often you have to do this, but most runners and cyclists do short intervals once or twice a seek.  You probably should do long intervals also.  However, applying near-maximal
force on muscles for more than 30 seconds causes considerable muscle damage, so you have to allow muscles to recover by doing slow training for one or two days afterwards.

Since short intervals do not accumulate much lactic acid, you can do a large number of repetitions during a single workout. Long intervals cause a tremendous amount of muscle damage, so you can only do a few long intervals during a workout.  A sound endurance program should include a lot of slow miles, one or two workouts with many short intervals, and probably at least one workout that includes a few long intervals each week.

Originally published in 2009

photo by: wwarby

Mallika Chopra: Stating It Publicly — My Intent is To Run the Long Beach Half Marathon on October 17th.

In a very big move (for me!), I am publicly stating her on Intent.com and on my other social media sites that my intent is to run the Long Beach Half Marathon on October 17th.

Last Fall, I was going to do one, and after getting up to 11 miles ended up not doing it as I got a bad chest infection, and I think, Swine Flu.  But in assessing my training and my general approach to big challenges, I realized that I created an excuse not to run because I was fearful about not being able to do it.  (I also never shared the intent or actually registered for the run.)

This is a repeating pattern in my life – not fully embracing challenges I am fearful of – and I am ready to deal with it head on!

This year I feel ready and am committed to do this – and my two girls, who were disappointed I didn’t do it last year, are cheering me on.  My goal is to not worry about time but just to train and complete it in a healthy balanced fashion. (I am a very new runner!)

And, for me, putting the intent out into the universe and asking for support will make it happen. 🙂

I am training with my dear friend and trainer, Holly Perkins, and we have decided to document our experience training here on Intent to get support and motivate our team. And, we are officially a New Balance Intent Team – thanks to Holly’s relationship with New Balance.  (We also get to try some sneakers which will be fun!)

So every week, Holly and I will share some of our thoughts on how the training goes, and will post our intents for our weekly runs.  Some of our team members may blog as well.

AND, I would love it if any of you who have run, are training or have the intent one day to run a half marathon (or marathon, 5K, 10K, triatholon) share your experiences with us!  (You could tag your posts “running” so we can track them!)

Thank you for the support – please do comment on our posts as it helps motivate us – and you will be hearing more about the process in the weeks to come!

Team New Balance / Intent runs a Half Marathon!

This week New Balance and Intent.com have teamed up, literally, to create a Half Marathon running team.  While I am a veteran of running, many of my team members are new to the sport.  This is an exciting journey for all – myself included – and is one of the most interesting physical fitness tests out there.  Join us here as Mallika Chopra and I share our weekly experiences with you.  We will be inviting the members of Team New Balance / Intent to share their stories as well through blogs on Intent.com.  It is a daunting task to run 13.1 miles. Many factors come in to play that will influence each team member’s journey. Follow along as I coach the members of Team New Balance / Intent through the challenges, successes, injuries, and personal achievements to arrive at the Long Beach Half Marathon on October 17th, 2010. 


A Poor Gal’s Pedicure

If you practice yoga, you spend a fair amount of time looking at your feet. The more often you practice yoga, the more you look at your feet, and with the arrival of open-toe shoe weather, others, too, will now be looking at your feet.

What does this mean? You need a pedicure.
Not so fast. Pedicures feel luxurious and look lovely; however, you can provide your tootsies with some of the same health benefits at home, for free. (Save your money for your yoga classes or health club membership).
Toes Pose is a very simple and potent stretch for toes and feet. It is essential for athletes, people who spend long hours standing (think: nurses, chefs, hair stylists, etc.), and/or fashionistas, who teeter around town in sky-high heels. All these activities have the potential to jam our toes and confine our feet until they cramp, contort, and ache.
I should forewarn you that although this pose is simple, it is not easy. I recommend doing it at home while you watch TV, before yoga class when you arrive on your mat, or during your home practice. Over time, it will get easier, and, eventually, it will feel divine . . .
Step 1: Start by standing on your knees, curling under all ten toes (you might need to help your pinky toe by folding it back with your fingers).
Step 2: Next, sit back onto your heels. Try to stay here for ten deep breaths. If the sensation is too intense for your feet, return to Step 1. Don’t let your mind panic and become unwieldy. Your deep ujayi breath will support you.

Step 3: Release the pose by un-tucking your toes, setting your hands behind you, and lifting your shins and knees off the floor. The stretch in the tops of your feet, ankles, and shins will feel amazing . . . and keep your toes looking spacious, straight, and happy.
And, if you must splurge on a pedicure. Choose an awesomely vibrant summer hue for your happy and healthy feet.



There’ a Time and Pace for Everyone

Week 1. Check. Only 51 remaining. I would insert a big, appropriate “Bring It On!” right here, but truthfully today it’s more of a gentle “Let’s Do This”. Well, maybe something in between because I do feel frisky and excited for all this unknown stuff.

Saturday evening I volunteered to take photos for the annual L.A. Leggers dinner and awards program. Not a bad gig for me considering I will soon be armed with ponytail and Brooks stability shoes ready to take on their marathon training program. It was actually a great way to meet folks and get the chance to talk to them about their running experiences. Now let me put this into perspective. I was hanging out in a crowd where one man finished LA in 3 hours 4 minutes, another woman walked it (yes, walked it) in 5 hours 35 minutes and one more guy had just finished his 171st marathon. Huh? And those were only the ones I knew about!

My personal highlight though occurred when speaking to a ‘longtime Legger’. I asked him how this all worked because it appeared a tad bit daunting (understatement) to think of running 26.2 miles at this point. He gave me a bit of a smirk and basically told me that new runners needed to think of it as 1 mile done 26 times instead of seeing the 26.2 as a whole. And they are looking for the pace at which you feel you can run 1 mile several times over.

“What’s your pace?” he enthusiastically asked. Perhaps a runner inside pick-up line? I had a quick internal giggle before answering an honest, “I don’t know. But I can see the finish line. I just don’t know how I get there!” (Basically I did not answer his question). 🙂

He laughed and I remembered AGAIN of course that this whole marathon thing is such a metaphor for life goals. Set them, see the finish and don’t get caught up with the in-between ‘hows’. That’s the job of the universe. Just take it step by step (in this case literally) with deliberate action and intention…and find YOUR pace. Then keep your pace. Then improve it.

When I walked into spinning class this week after my last post announcing my newest adventure, my teacher high-fived me with excitement and support and said, “Why not?!”

Exactly. Why run the marathon? Well…why not?

Thanks Reilly and LA Leggers. Now it’s time to say, BRING IT ON!

Oh, and Mr. Legger man also reminded me that he too started at the beginning. The place where everyone starts……

The Day After

Ok, the ungrounded (but fun) excitement makes its way back down to earth today as I approach the afternoon of day 4 (of 361 days to the LA 2011 marathon). Days 1, 2 and 3 were spent in some Willy Wonka type factory in my mind, ranging from the bliss of flight via belching bubbles to the horror of being sucked through a tube, and getting stuck.







I of course woke up today with phantom muscle pain. Aren’t our bodies and minds AMAZING! Just the thought of committing to such a foreign goal for me has caused my body to act out in the oddest ways. But Ha!…I see you body. I see you mind.

Does that make me any more motivated to run tonight? Hmm….Part of me says no. But the part that gets it says YES!

I’ve always used the phrase “I feel like I ran a marathon”. Really? Wonder what that actually feels like. Guess i am going to find out. I’ve got the golden ticket.

Zero to Marathon In 1 Year Flat

So I am sitting here writing this post thinking…WTF have I gotten myself in to?

Let me back up.

Sunday (4 days ago) marked the 25th Anniversary of the LA Marathon. Until this year, that would have really meant nothing to me. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply admire marathoners. I just hadn’t really thought too much about them because in my mind they were “out of my league”. They do run 26.2 miles after all! And I have never witnessed a race in person, though hear about them on TV periodically.

This year not only did I have friends running in it, but the course wound practically right past my front door, just before mile 22. One of my friends running was my neighbor, Shannon. She plays a significant role here because she recently coerced, uh I mean gently persuaded me to join our neighborhood run club. She and I are spinning buddies, but I have always told her I hate running, so she smartly only mentioned the club once in a blue moon…until I joined no doubt.

So, a slight (very slight) curiosity about running has been developing over the last few months. But nothing could have prepared me for this week’s whopper of a decision! Yes, I have committed to running a marathon! Let’s discuss.

Sunday I walked down to my neighborhood Lululemon store that hosted the mile 22 80’s cheering dance party. Folks, this is RIGHT up my alley. So me, my neon pink sparkle skirt, green retro glasses with attached earrings and pretty in pink flip flops had the time of our lives dancing and cheering on the runners as they passed. What I didn’t expect is to feel is, well…feelings. I thought I was just in it for the cheesy music, energetic rah rah’s and the occasional sip of champagne. But as life would have it, I had a tremendously deep, personal and opening experience. And the beautiful part was that I wasn’t ready for any of it.

As the runners began to pass, a sense of intense admiration welled up inside me. Every part of my being was cheering them on, and each of my dance moves for them showed my enthusiasm. I was SO proud of them that I could barely stand it. And they were happy! Actually happy as they passed, and were fed by the sound of the music and our voices. At mile 22? This was astounding to me. I pictured people dropping left and right by that time.

Then IT happened. In the midst of an attempted break dancing sequence, I had a flood of my own beliefs pass right before my eyes. And I realized I had a CHOICE whether to buy into them or not. These runners cruising by were waking me up to my own self-imposed limitations. I had actually bought into the belief that I could NEVER run 5 miles, let alone 26.2. And even if I did happen to run, I would hate it, my body would break down, I would fail, etc, etc. Geesh, no wonder I’ve avoided the sport all these years.

I started thinking to myself, “If I have all these beliefs just about this one thing, imagine how many I have about life in general”. Wow. Wake-up-call.

I went home from the marathon that day feeling so exhilarated and inspired, and I began to literally feel belief after belief fall off me. The freedom in that is almost inexplicable. I became curious to find more illusionary beliefs to challenge and question and extended my gratitude for the realizations I was having.

So, here’s how it went after that. I kept this all to myself Monday and let my inner world grow and prosper, and actually process the events of Sunday. I felt a strong push to say YES to this inner journey…so did. I completely began to see that running a marathon for me is probably 95% mental and 5% physical. And I started translating those statistics to anything in life I have had “fear” of. It’s almost as if my mind was beginnign to re-program itself.

By Tuesday, I made a scary (and let me reiterate scary!) yet freeing decision to run the 2012 marathon. In fact, I made it real by tweeting it out to my friends at Lululemon and making it my status on Facebook.

Ok @lululemon, I’m gonna run the 2012 LA marathon. Just decided! This will b my 1 thing a day that scares me 4 the next 2 years! LOL ;) 4:14 PM Mar 23rd via TweetDeck

See how the time says 4:14pm? Well, by 6:15pm that same day I was at run club and found myself volunteering to run the 4.5 mile course as opposed to the “safe” 2 mile one. WHAT? Who was speaking those words? I thought I didn’t really even like running! Not only that, I vowed to myself that I was going to enjoy the experience and actually relax with each step.
And I did! Who is this new person?

By 7:30pm a few friends of mine encouraged me not only to run the marathon (with them), but to do it next year in 2011 instead of 2012. Yowza! Alright-y then! I say YES! I can do it! Now don’t think I am any less afraid here. I am just choosing not to give that part of myself the energy, because the part of me that DOES know I can do it is much more interesting to me now.

And today I changed my tweets and FB status to match the even more, as Lululemon stated, “big hairy audacious goal” to solidify the new 2011 reality.

I share this story because this is an insightful community of people who are looking inward to create from the heart, not the mind, and I feel you can relate to aspects of this story that are “between the lines”. Whatever your “marathon” may be, I encourage you to say YES and follow what Lululemon says….“Do one thing a day that scares you”. It certainly is freeing and worth it.

I intend to spend the next year blogging about the inner and outer journeys of preparing for the marathon, which is a daunting 361 days from today. It won’t always be pretty, but it will be my “yes”.

I leave you with my favorite sign held by a spectator on Sunday:

Glad the marathon is only 26.2 miles.
26.3 would be CRA-ZY!

Stress Fractures Caused by Weak Muscles and Over-Striding

One of the most common injuries in runners is a stress fracture of the lower leg (tibia) because running fast causes the foot to hit the ground with tremendous force that can shatter bones.  A study from the University of Minnesota shows that women with stress fractures do not have weaker bones, they have smaller and weaker calf muscles (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, December, 2009).  Another study from Iowa State University in Ames, in the same journal, shows that longer strides cause the greatest foot strike forces that increase bone fracture risk.)

Strong muscles may help to prevent bones from breaking by absorbing more force from the foot hitting the ground during running.  Most distance runners do not use weight machines to strengthen their leg muscles.  They strengthen their calf muscles by running very fast no more often than three times a week.

In the Iowa study, reducing stride length by ten percent reduced force of the foot striking the ground and therefore reduced force on the tibia.

Shortening your stride will not slow you down.  When your foot hits the ground, your Achilles tendon contracts to store up to 60 percent of your foot strike force.  Then when you step off that foot, your Achilles tendon releases the stored energy to drive you forward. Over-striding deprives you of some of this stored energy.  Since many runners take strides that are too long, shortening stride length usually allows them to increase cadence and will help to increase speed and endurance.

Read the Book That’s Inside You

In my quest to become more spiritually connected to God and aware of the blessings around me, I read a lot of books, quotes, tweets, sign up for inspirational newsletters, thoughts of the day, listen to podcasts, etc.  You name it, I’m signed up for it.  However, I think I am on overload.  Everything is starting to sound the same now. 












Letting go





I was just realizing the need for a slow down period, when it occurred to me to “just read the book that’s inside me”.  I came to this revelation while meditating one day as my thoughts drifted away from the quiet place (as they often do).  I immediately stopped the guided meditation recording.  I was so moved by the thought of it, that I had to write it down right away so I could develop the idea further after my meditation was done. 

Here’s what I wrote on my notepaper exactly, ”Read the book that’s inside you.  Write it down and share it.  You have all the knowledge you need now to do it and do it well.  You can take a break from reading everyone else’s books.”  Well, ain’t that a how-do-ya-do?  I have been pining away to become an author and inspirational/motivational speaker as a vehicle to serve God.  It’s my ultimate dream, my goal of all goals. Guess now is as good a time as any to get started.  You don’t get the word of God coming to you any clearer than that!     

Earlier last week, I think I received a tangible message that may be related. Work with me here. 

I went running for the first time in almost a week because I strained my calf muscle.  I was itching to get back on the road even though it isn’t completely healed, so I thought I’d just go a couple of miles.  I got about 1/3 of a mile out and found a shiny Craftsman wrench right in the middle of the street (13/16 to be exact).  I looked around, there was no one to be found, so I picked it up and ran with it the rest of the way.  Incidentally, I re-injured my calf muscle during that run and have been laid up since.  But I digress.   

I think the message is: that I already have the tools I need at this time, and that I can trust I am able to share them with others.  I don’t have a need for that wrench right now, but I have it if anyone else does.  It’s so shiny and new, it could really do the job well.  Someone may see something shiny that catches the light in the middle of the pages I am able to write. 

I was wondering what the heck that wrench was doing lying there.  Since I am temporarily not getting my cherished running high while I heal, I can get that high by infusing God’s words into some writing and hopefully inspiring others.  Guess that’s why my leg is taking it’s time to heal.  Now I have time to do what God wants me to do.  The irony of it all!   

That was a fun puzzle to figure out though!

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