Monday, January 31, 2011

Blog post by Elizabeth Waterstraat: No Excuses

This is such an awesome blog post that ELF posted yesterday, I have to share it on my blog.  You can follow her blog here.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

No Excuses

“If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse."-Jim Rohn

I stumbled upon that quote recently and it certainly rang true. As both a coach and an athlete, I can say that it is nearing “that” time of year. This is the time of year when winners are made and the rest just fall into the trap of indifference, lack of commitment and distraction. I’ve said it before – winners do not necessarily win races, they are champions of their own goals and desires. They do what they set out to do not because they are gifted but because they make the commitment to themselves to do what it takes to get it done.

What are the winners doing? Simply put, they’re getting it done. They’re managing life, time and energy to be sure they get the training done. They set goals, they understand the work it takes to get there and then commit to doing it. They make that commitment every day and through that consistency they gain fitness and make progress. Whether it’s cold, dark, or I just plain don’t want to – they do. Day in, day out, they get it done.

What about everyone else? I think it’s safe to say that at some point, we’ve all been “everyone else”. Even the most successful athlete does not wake up every single day looking forward to 100 percent of their workouts. Energy and motivation ebbs and flows. At times you just want to bottle up your motivation so you can pull from a reserve on those days you see a long run when its 10 degrees, a 2 hour easy trainer ride at 5:30 am or something like 10 x 400 on your schedule, including 1200 yards with band.

One word for that: oy.

It’s easy during those times to find an excuse. I’ve talked before about excuses, and having spent many years working with adults, let me tell you – adults are master excuse makers. Adults will spend all sorts of wasted time giving you excuses rather than take that time to improve the situation or – simply – get done what they are trying to excuse. I once worked with an athlete who sent drawn out emails about why they couldn’t get a workout done. Everything from work to having to take out the dog. We all work. And a lot of us have dogs. We get things done! The 20 minutes it probably took to write that email could have been 20 minutes spinning on their trainer. Something is better than nothing. Point is, you're either busy making excuses or busy making it happen each day.

Which do you choose?

I’ve been thinking excuses a lot lately because now that I have a child – the excuses are everywhere. It becomes very attractive to take the easy way out or to not start something at all because I’m ________(fill in the blank; tired, busy, house work to do, real work to do, etc., etc). I find that when we walk around tired or frustrated, excusing ourselves or blaming others becomes more likely. We find reasons it is ok to feel sorry for ourselves, to blame our lack of action on something/someone else or to give less than our best.

On Saturday morning, I woke up late for masters. I had every excuse to stay home – not enough time to get there, didn’t eat breakfast, the baby (always a great excuse!) but then I thought about my season goals. Sure, I could miss one swim but I find that once you let yourself get away with something it becomes a slippery slope. Indifference adds up quickly. I got my act together quickly and made it to the pool just in time. The mainset was 10 x 200 on an interval that on some days is what it takes me to swim a 200. For a split second, I thought about giving myself permission to pull some of them, or put on fins, or demote myself a lane because I was tired, missed breakfast, I have a baby (SEE!). So many excuses...

But then I realized something else. I stood on the edge of opportunity. I knew with the right determination and pacing, I could make the interval. When faced with a challenge, some athletes either breakthrough or breakdown. If I completed this set today, it would be a huge breakthrough. As I got further into the set, the excuses peeled away. Pulling, paddles, fins – none of that needs to be my fire escape. If I want to do this, I’ll find a way. If I don’t, I’ll find myself at #6 with a pull buoy.

When you accept an excuse, you deny yourself an opportunity. Making a new interval, pushing a set of watts you didn’t think you could do – you only get there if you give yourself a chance. The worst thing that happens – you blow up and end up going easy the rest of the time. The best thing that happens – you find a new limit, you breakthrough. Is it worth it? Opportunity versus excuse, you decide.

The excuse is always the easy way out. I’m tired, I’m busy, I don’t feel like it, it’s only January, did I mention I have a 6-month old? Bucking up and getting the work done - that's the hard stuff. Our world is so easy-here-now in as little work as possbile that I find some adults-turned-athletes don't realize the importance and undeniability of this equation: work + time = progress. You cannot get anything unless you do the work over time. No excuses, no short cuts.

Spend a week looking back at your life or workout schedule. Look at all the things you did and did not do. For the things you did not do – why. What’s your excuse? Be careful, it’s a fine line between excuses and reasons. Reasons come up (sick child, car broke down, situations beyond our control). Excuses are brought up. Separate those “whys” into things you have control over and things you don’t have control over. For things you have control over, do something about it. Chances are next week, you’ll find yourself with a lot less excuses and a lot more action.

Time management is the biggest defense an adult has to excuses. I know you’re busy. We all are. Even the busiest people find time to get it done – if they want to. There are a lot of little things you can do to improve time management. Laying out your bike clothes before you go to bed, having everything you need next to the trainer, keeping your swim bag packed in the car, communicating with your spouse about the time you need to get things done. All of these little things are defenses against what gets most of us – I don’t have the time or I have too much time to think while getting ready that I lose my motivation before getting it done. If everything is ready for you, there is no time to think. You wake up, you get on the bike, you do. Before you know it, you’re done.

I coach a lot of busy people – from lawyers to surgeons to people with kids to full-time students. Rightfully, each one of them has an excuse for why they can’t do something. The difference is that the athletes who achieve don’t use it. They don’t need to. Because they get up every day making the commitment to get it done. It’s not easy – it requires planning, communication and giving up some of the unnecessaries but if you want to get to your goal, you sacrifice. You get up early, you make it a priority, you don’t even give the excuses time to show up. You beat them to the punch.

I write about excuses as a constant reminder to myself. Each day with a 6-month old is an adventure in fatigue, balance and learning that I cannot leave anything within his turning radius unless I want that thing dumped all over the ground (mug of Kefir on living room rug ---> lesson learned). Some days I wake up tired, some days he doesn’t nap, other days I think to myself it’s hard enough to find time to eat let alone get in two workouts. I have every opportunity to give up on myself and accept defeat on the couch. But something drives me from within. Whether it’s the opportunity of what lies ahead or just every day striving to be better than the day before – it pushes me to get it done. When I look back on what I’ve accomplished this year, I want a list of successes. Not a list of excuses that got in the way.

This week it’s your call. Maybe you want to eat better, get in 100 percent of your workouts, get more sleep, whatever – if you truly want it, you’ll make a plan, take action and find a way. Go find it. No excuses, now.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quote for the Day

"Motivation is a skill. It can be learned and practiced."


Thursday, January 27, 2011


A lot of you have probably read this great blog post by Joe Friel that came out a few days ago, but I thought I would re-post it anyways because I think he's awesome and it is one of my favorite topics to learn about!

I believe that the most important thing an athlete takes to the start line on race day is confidence. It may even be more important than fitness or form. There are several things I do to help build confidence in those I coach. But the bottom line is that it has to come from inside. I can’t instill it; I can only encourage it and provide an on-going training experience that fosters it. Here are two little things I’ve learned along the way about how athletes can build their own confidence.

One of the things you can do to promote self-confidence is to build a bank account of successes. It’s easy. Every night when you go to bed, after you’re turned out the lights, you have the only time in the day when there are no external interruptions. This is a good time to run a quick check of the things you did that day in training. Find one thing you did well. It may not seem like a big deal. Maybe you climbed one hill well or had a good set on intervals. Relive that moment several times until you fall asleep. You just made a deposit into your confidence bank account.

Some of the deposits will be big, some will be small. But your account needs to grow each and every day. The week of a race you can start making withdrawals. Any time you feel a bit of anxiety about the upcoming race go back and pull one of those vivid success memories out of your account. Relive it. When the little voice in your head says you can’t do it make another withdrawal immediately. When someone expresses doubt about your chances of success make a withdrawal. When you step to the starting line make a withdrawal.
Never deposit the bad things or unwelcome moments in training. Never. Let them go. They’re trash. Stay focused on the positive experiences. Deposit only them in your account. Withdraw only them.

The second thing you can do to boost confidence and therefore performance is to “act as if.” Always assume the posture and disposition of a confident athlete. Always. Act as if you are confident. You’ll be amazed at what that does for your confidence.

So how does a confident athlete act? Look around and find athletes who exude confidence. What do they do and say that’s unique? Study them. What you will probably find is that they stand tall and proud. Their heads are up. They look people in the eyes when talking. They don’t denigrate others to try to elevate their own self-esteem. They move slowly, precisely and fluidly. Like athletes. It’s obvious they think of themselves positively.

Now you may not feel that way all the time but act like it anyway. Fake it till you make it. It’s remarkable how taking on the posture and demeanor of confidence breeds confidence even when you’re not feeling that way. It’s not possible to be confident with a defeated posture and demeanor. It’s like saying “yes” while shaking your head “no.” The two don’t go together.

So that’s the conversation I have with the athletes I coach when they need to build confidence. I’ve seen it work. Give it a try.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Magic of Mantras

Think strong words. Repeat inspiring phrase. Run even better.  

By Christie Aschwanden  
From the February 2011 issue of Runner's World

Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz put in all the hard work expected of an elite distance runner. In preparation for the 2009 Chicago Marathon, she ran weekly long runs, tempo runs, and intervals, all at altitude in Boulder, Colorado. But despite arriving at the starting line in peak form, "I just didn't believe in myself," she says. Fryburg-Zaitz placed a disappointing 17th in 2:48:40, a full 11 minutes slower than she'd hoped. "I had so much doubt going into the race," she says. "I realized that I'd defeated myself mentally before I'd even started." So in April 2010, she sought the help of Stephen Walker, Ph.D., a sports psychologist in Boulder who taught her how to buoy her confidence. Walker's secret weapon? Mantras.

To achieve your running goals, powerful legs and big lungs aren't enough—you also need a strong head. Doubts and distractions can derail your attempts, but a well-chosen mantra can keep you calm and on target. "Repeating choice words whenever you need to focus helps direct your mind away from negative thoughts and toward a positive experience," says Walker.

Indeed, the Sanskrit word "mantra" literally means "instrument for thinking." As such, these short words or phrases have long been used to focus the mind in meditation, says David K. Ambuel, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia.

Fryburg-Zaitz used a visual aid to remember her mantras. At the 2010 U.S. 20-K Championships, she lined up wearing a multicolored wristband. Yellow signaled control for the early miles. Red meant power, for the hills. Green represented compete, to focus on remaining with the group. Pink corresponded to run strong and blue was magnet—a cue to accelerate to the finish line. The colorcoding worked: Fryburg-Zaitz's top-10 finish earned her a spot on the 2010 U.S. World Half-Marathon Championships team.

With Walker's guidance, Fryburg-Zaitz chose wisely. An effective mantra addresses what you want to feel, not the adversity you're trying to overcome, says Robert J. Bell, Ph.D., a certified consultant of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. In fact, when discomfort strikes, the worst thing you can do is embrace the pain, says Walker. "When you start thinking, Oh, this hurts, Oh, I have a side stitch, Oh, my legs are tired—those negative thoughts pile on," he says. A good mantra diverts your mind from thoughts that reinforce the pain to thoughts that help you transcend it.

So what makes a good mantra? One that's short, positive, instructive, and full of action words. Walker suggests preparing multiple mantras before a race tailored to various challenges. And don't limit yourself to "real" words. A made-up word works for Tara Anderson, a 34-year-old runner in Boulder who recites, Lighter, softer, faster, relaxer. "I repeat it with each footstrike, and if I'm having a problem, I'll repeat the relevant part until I'm in the flow," she says. Her phrase helped her set a three-minute PR in a 10-K in 2009. Here's how you, too, can wring some running magic out of a few well-chosen words.

Do As We Say
RW staffers and the words that carry them through

Starting out easy?
"Pass no one."
—BART YASSO, Chief Running Officer

"Don't listen. Don't look. Just run."

"Light and smooth."
—MARK REMY, Executive Editor (Online)

Overcoming inclines...
"Claw the ground."
—DAVID WILLEY, RW Editor-in-Chief

"Hills are my friend."
—LORI ADAMS, Assistant Editor

"Just stay calm."
—TISH HAMILTON, Executive Editor

Summoning a kick?
"The strong get stronger."
—WARREN GREENE, Brand Editor

"Turn and burn."
—NICK GALAC, Associate Photo Editor

"Run fast, go past."

Conquering 26.2?
"One mile at a time."
—AMBY BURFOOT, Editor at Large

"Fast or slow, it hurts just the same."
—SEAN DOWNEY, Senior Editor

"Save it. Save it."
—JENNIFER VAN ALLEN, Special Projects Editor

Fast Talk
Mantras that help elites reach peak performance

"This is what you came for."
—SCOTT JUREK, running 165.7 miles en route to breaking the American 24-hour record in May 2010

"Define yourself."
—DEENA KASTOR, while winning the Chicago Marathon in 2005 and becoming the first American to win a major marathon since 1994

"You're tougher than the rest."
SARAH REINERTSEN, in a half-Ironman qualifier that would earn her a spot at the Ironman World Championship, where she became the first female leg amputee to finish the event

"Think strong, be strong, finish strong."
—RENEE METIVIER BAILLIE, winning the 2010 USATF Indoor 3000 meters. She wrote the words on her hand.

"Make it or break it."
—NCAA steeplechase champion JORDAN DESILETS in 2004, while breaking the four-minute barrier in the mile during his last collegiate race at that distance

"Be water."
—The Bruce Lee mantra that Olympic middle-distance runner BOLOTA ASMEROM uses to feel smooth but full of force

Mantra Maker
How to put together your perfect phrase

Keep it short
Your mantra should be an affirmation, not a novel. "When you're tired, you don't want something elaborate," says Stephen Walker. "It's too hard to remember." Keep it to five seconds or less.

Stay positive
Think of the problem you're trying to counteract and turn it around. "If you're feeling weak, your mantra should be I am strong," says Walker.

Make it energetic
Your mantra should center on action verbs or strong adjectives, not abstract phrases, says Robert J. Bell. Look for words that convey energy, like "fast," "strong," or "power."

Embed instructions
Use the mantra to remind yourself what you plan to do or how you want to feel as you're running, says Walker. Now is the time; go for it. Or, Run relaxed. Finish strong.

Choose one word from each section below to create a motivational, get-it-done power chant.





Saturday, January 22, 2011

Talk Nice

Great article from Kristen Armstrong on positive self talk in her Mile Markers blog in Runner's World.  Here is a quote I love at the end, but I encourage you to read the whole article.

Can you think with me for a second about what we could really do if we stopped telling ourselves that we couldn't? If we changed old habits of self talk, and rephrased our way to victory? I challenge you to listen to the way you describe yourself, out loud and in your head. Stop yourself mid-sentence if you have to, back up, and restate your claim. Words are powerful.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Simple Workout Snacks

I modified this a little.  It was "20 Simple Workout Snacks", but some of them were promoting products that the person is obviously sponsored by, plus I wanted to simplify this a little and take out the things that I would not do!  You can read the full article here.


Whether you exercise in the morning, afternoon or evening, try to eat before and after you train. You’ll boost energy levels to stay sharp, both mentally and physically, throughout even the toughest workouts—and help your body recover better afterwards. What’s best to eat? While the research is fairly complex, the take-home menu is actually quite simple.
  • Studies show that a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is best, depending on the intensity and duration of your workout.
  • For a short, low to medium intensity workout, a 2:1 ratio is enough.
  • For longer, harder sessions, aim for a 3:1 ratio—you’ll need the extra carbs to help refuel your depleted energy stores. 
  • Keeping those ratios in mind, aim for a combination of 15-30 grams of protein and 30-90 grams of carbs before and after your workout.
Below are 20 sample shakes, snacks, and meal options to get you started. Keep in mind that calorie counts vary, so be aware of your overall calorie intake when planning your workout nutrition.

Chocolate Milk
20g protein, 60g carbs
16-oz serving

Fruit Juice + Whey Protein
24g protein, 56g carbs
1 Scoop EAS 100% Whey Protein, 1 cup 100% fruit juice

Pita + Hummus
14g protein, 40g carbs
1 whole wheat pita, 3 tbsp hummus,
1 oz almonds

Peanut Butter Toast
18g protein, 44g carbs
2 slices whole grain toast, 2 tbsp natural peanut butter

Apples + Yogurt
14g protein, 27g carbs
1 apple, 1 1/2 cups low-fat Greek yogurt

Eggs + Wheat Toast
15g protein, 47g carbs
2 hard-boiled eggs, 2 slices of whole grain toast

Chicken Marinara Pasta
41g protein, 86g carbs
5 oz grilled chicken, 2 cups whole wheat pasta, 1/2 cup marinara sauce

Oatmeal + Whey Protein
16g protein, 28g carbs
1/2 cup oatmeal, 10 grams whey protein

Quinoa + Chicken
19g protein, 45g carbs
1/2 cup quinoa (dry), 2 oz chicken

Monday, January 17, 2011

How to Lose Weight to Train

By Matt Fitzgerald

You can't maximize weight loss and fitness at the same time. This is a proven fact.

The fastest way to lose weight is on a medically-supervised very low-calorie diet (VLCD). On a VLCD, patients consume 800 calories per day, which is the minimum amount of energy the average person can take in without damaging his or her health.

It is possible to do some light exercise on a VLCD, but as you can imagine, you can't exactly train for a marathon.

Weight Loss vs. Fitness

That's an extreme example, but there are less extreme examples that also show you can't maximize weight loss and fitness at the same time.

For example, in 2009 researchers from Southern Connecticut State University separated 34 cyclists into three groups. One group added sprint intervals to their training. A second group went on a weight-loss diet. A third group did both. The researchers who conducted the study were interested in comparing the effects of these three interventions on the cyclists' power-to-weight ratio, which is one of the best predictors of race performance capacity on a bike.

The results were interesting. It turned out that the power-to-weight ratio improved in the group that did sprint intervals without dieting and in the group that dieted without doing sprint intervals, but it did not improve in the group that did both.

Why? The authors of the study speculated that the reduced calorie intake of the weight-loss diet prevented these cyclists from gaining any power from the sprint intervals.

Importance of Fueling

The lesson is this: When you're training for a marathon or other important race, you need to fuel your body for maximum performance in workouts and maximum recovery between workouts. This approach to nutrition during the training process will necessarily limit the amount of weight you lose.

Most runners lose some weight when training and eating appropriately for an important race, and some runners even lose a lot of weight. But you can't expect to lose as much weight as you would if weight loss were your highest priority, rather than maximum fitness.

A Time for Everything

There is a time to make weight loss your highest priority, but it's not while you're focused on an upcoming race. The best time to pursue faster weight loss is right before you start formally training for a big race. I call this short period of emphasis on weight loss a quick start.

I recommend quick starts for all runners who are more than five pounds above their optimal racing weight when they're getting ready to start training for a big race. Focusing on weight loss for 4-8 weeks before the race-training process formally begins will enable most runners to reach their ideal racing weight in time for their race without having to compromise their fueling (hence their fitness) during the training process.

Your diet and training within a quick start should differ from your diet and training during the training process in five key ways:

1. Moderate Calorie Deficit

During a quick start you should aim to consume 300-500 fewer calories per day than your body would need to maintain its current weight. This deficit is sufficient to yield fairly quick weight loss, but would be too large within the race-focused training process, when you need your diet to support heavy training for an upcoming race.

2. Strength Training

A quick start is also a good time to make a greater commitment to strength training than you do at any other time. I recommend three full-body strength workouts per week at this time. This will help you lose weight by adding muscle mass to your frame and thereby increasing your metabolism, so you burn more fat at rest. Building strength during a quick start will also help you run better and stay injury free during the subsequent race training process.

You won't have as much time and energy to lift weights within the training process, when you're running a lot more.

3. Increased Protein Intake

I recommend that runners aim to get roughly 30 percent of their daily calories from protein during a quick start. There are two reasons for this recommendation.

First, high-protein diets are more filling than moderate- and low-protein diets. So increasing your protein intake during a quick start will help you maintain your daily calorie deficit without hunger. Second, increased protein intake will help you build muscle through strength training.

Within the training cycle your protein intake needs to be lower to make room for increased consumption of carbohydrate, your most important endurance fuel.

4. Sprint Intervals

A quick start is not the time for high-volume endurance training. That should wait until you're within the race-focused training process. High-volume endurance training promotes fat loss. So if you're not going to do it during a quick start, you have to promote fat loss through training in other ways.

As we've seen, strength training is one way. Another is sprint interval workouts. Training sessions consisting of large numbers of very short (10-30 seconds) sprints are proven to promote significant fat loss, especially between workouts. They also develop power that will help you get off to a good start when you move into race-focused training.

This is not a type of training that you can do much of within the race-focused training period, when more race-specific types of workouts must be prioritized.

5. Fasting Workouts

A fasting workout is a long, easy run undertaken in a glycogen-deprived state. This means you don't eat before you start and you don't take in any carbs along the way. This forces your body to rely on fat to fuel the workout, making it a great fat-burning session.

I advise runners to perform one fasting workout per week during a quick start. Later, when you're actively training toward a race, you should consume carbs before and during most of your long runs to maximize your performance in those workouts.

Matt Fitzgerald's latest book is Racing Weight Quick Start Guide: A 4-Week Weight-Loss Plan for Endurance Athletes.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dr. Oz's 5 Ways to Outsmart Food Cravings

Posted on Jan 7th 2011 1:00PM by Norine Dworkin-McDanielfrom that's fit

Each of us falls victim to a little temptation while dieting -- usually in the form of chocolate cake, homemade mac 'n' cheese, or some other rich food or drink that you love to indulge in but know you'll pay for on the scale in the morning. Unfortunately, cravings are almost impossible to ignore. "There's a survival value to craving," said Dr. Mehmet Oz, better known as the host of "The Dr. Oz Show."

As he explains it, we crave food for the same reason we crave sex. "There's a biologically mandated desire to nourish and procreate that's hardwired at numerous levels to ensure there's redundancy in the system, so it can't fail because those are the two things you need to survive as a species."

Fair enough. But unless you're someone who, say, craves asparagus tips and broccoli florets, routinely giving in to that hardwired, biologically mandated desire for fettuccine alfredo or stuffed-crust pizza can wreak havoc with your plans to get back in your skinny jeans. But biology isn't always destiny. So rather than tough out your cravings through sheer willpower -- a losing battle akin to "trying to hold your breath underwater indefinitely," according to Dr. Oz -- you've got to be a bit cunning in your approach. Here, Dr. Oz offers five smart ways to get control of your cravings so they don't end up controlling you.

Know your kryptonite. There are two types of craving foods, said Dr. Oz. Those we can occasionally eat a bit of, feel satisfied and are done. And those that have you licking the crumbs from the bag then tearing apart your kitchen hunting for more. Everyone's craving foods are different, so figure out what sends you on a food bender, then steer clear. Knowing the foods that you're powerless around isn't weak, it's smart. "Mine is chocolate-covered nuts," admitted Dr. Oz. "I can go through a gallon of them, and I'll just be getting started. I know that, so I don't have them near me if I can avoid it."

Keep junk food out of the house. You're less likely to gorge on chips or cookies or candy if they're not readily available in your pantry or fridge, so you do yourself a huge favor by not even bringing them home from the market. "Out of sight, out of mind is the best way," said Dr. Oz. "You don't even think about them." But on those days when all you can do is think about double chocolate chip cookies, "go to the store and buy a snack-size amount," said Dr. Oz.

Find a healthier substitute. You may be able to fake out a craving and avoid the extra calories, fat, salt and sugar by eating foods that are close to what you're jonesing for. Craving sweet? Dates are naturally very sweet, as are grapes, prunes, raisins and dried figs. Need something creamy? Try a low-fat Greek yogurt. It's lower in sugar than other low-fat yogurts, and you can mix in some blueberries or honey for flavor. When you need a salt fix, reach for a dill pickle. "You get the crunch and the salt without the fat and calories of chips," said Dr. Oz.

Strike a bargain. Make this deal with yourself: You'll set a timer for an hour, and when the time's up, if you still want what you want, you can have a small amount. Then find something else to do for that hour -- rearrange your sock drawer, go for a walk, comb through your kids' closets for clothes and toys to give to charity. Whatever helps you fill the time so you're not watching the clock. It's a good deal to make, said Dr. Oz. "Most cravings don't last more than 20 to 30 minutes, so by the time the hour passes, you may have solved your problem."

Cleanse your palate. There's a reason fancy restaurants serve sorbet between courses -- it cleans your taste buds so you can enjoy the next dish without being distracted by the flavors from the dish that came before. Use this same tactic to quell a craving. "Brush your teeth, gargle with mouthwash, chew some gum. Nothing tastes good after you have that minty taste in your mouth," said Dr. Oz. And if you have given in to an indulgence, doing any of these things can "clear your palate so the food taste doesn't linger in your mouth, making you crave more," he said.

Call a pal. We often rummage through the kitchen for a quick feel-better fix when we're stressed or angry or sad or vulnerable because comfort food equals emotional comfort is something we learn as children. "When you're a child and you're unhappy, you're often satiated with something fatty, like mother's milk or bottled milk," explained Dr. Oz. "That creates a loop -- unhappiness equals fattiness equals happiness -- that gets learned and reinforced at a very fundamental level in your brain, even before we can verbalize it." The trick to not eating when you're feeling emotional is to find another source of comfort, like a good friend. "Venting to a friend is a much more waist-friendly way of relieving stress," said Dr. Oz.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Choice Words

Self-talk can be a motivational tool for runners--if what you're saying makes sense.  

By Gigi Douban 
Published 04/11/2007
Todd Utz, long-haired and mellow, isn't the trash-talking type. when he runs, his inner voice isn't goading him to crush the competition or to stomp out the slowpokes. Instead, when he hits a rough patch, he repeats a simple and unassuming mantra: "chug-a-lug." It suits the 35-year-old high school science teacher from Birmingham, Alabama. "I'm not really that competitive," says the two-hour half-marathoner. "I'm definitely very much a run-your-own-race kind of guy."

Just as it would be unnatural for Utz to chant "This hill is mine!" or "Kick some butt!" as he's charging a hill or the finish line, his reserved approach could fail to rally more aggressive runners. When Sarah Reinertsen, 31, was attempting to become the first female above-the-knee amputee to complete the Hawaii Ironman, which she did in 2005, she used a stronger call to action: "Show them that you're tougher than the rest."

Mantras--those short power bytes you play over and over in your head--can help you stay focused and centered. They can be your inner motivation when you need it most. Finding a mantra isn't hard: It can pop into your head as you're listening to your iPod, chatting with training partners, or flipping through a running magazine. But having one that suits you, as Utz and Reinertsen do, is the key to making it work. Trying to draw inspiration from a mantra that doesn't match your personality, the task, or even your mood at a particular moment of a run or race can backfire.

"The purpose of having a mantra is to evoke a certain feeling or sensation that will pull you along," says Gloria Balague, Ph.D., a sports psychologist and clinical assistant professor in psychology at the University of Illinois who has consulted with USA Track & Field athletes. "The words have to be right to draw the right response from inside of you. The wrong words will have no emotional echo, no emotional resonance. Self-awareness is an important psychological skill. You have to know what works best for you."
Find Your Voice
One way to develop your inner cheerleader is to remember thoughts you have while running well. If you're feeling especially strong or light on your feet, recognize those sensations and try to translate them into a saying. Balague recommends jotting down your postrun thoughts in a training log or journal. "You may start to find a pattern of things that occur when you're doing well," Balague says. "Motivational sayings may emerge that will help you replicate that optimal state."

Barbara Walker, Ph.D., an Ohio sports psychologist and seven-time marathoner, advises keeping mantras as simple as possible. "Repeating two words can become part of the rhythm of the run," she says. Walker often uses "tall and strong" and "light and focused."

This short-and-sweet approach works well for Deena Kastor, who holds the U.S. women's marathon record. When she ran her best 15-K in Jacksonville, Florida, in March 2003 (47:15, setting the U.S. record), she thought "extend yourself" throughout the race. "I was reading a book at the time that inspired me, A Practice of Mountains," says Kastor, who tends to pull mantras from books and songs. "'Extend yourself' was a way to project myself forward and try to catch, well, me." Over her career, Kastor has had dozens of mantras (for more on what motivates Kastor and other elite runners, see "Fast Talk"). "You have to continuously update and evolve where you get your inspiration," she says.

Of course, there are some occasions when it's okay for your inner voice to fall silent. Kastor says that on really good running days, even a two-word mantra is more motivation than she needs. "There are so many successful races where you're in the flow and nothing is on your mind," she says.

Balague advises having a stash of phrases or images that you call upon based on your mood or workout. "You're looking for different sensations depending on what you have to overcome," Balague says. On a long run, for example, you might want a phrase that keeps your pace nice and steady and helps you endure the distance. When you are racing a 5-K, on the other hand, you'd want to switch to something that will help you push harder and tap your inner superhero or speed demon.

Even tried-and-true mantras may not work on every run. Your go-to mantras, "pick it up" or "push harder," might inspire you when you stand a chance of picking it up or pushing harder. But giving yourself orders that you physically can't obey is more likely to discourage you than move you. "Telling yourself something that you don't believe isn't going to help," Balague says. "You cannot lie to yourself successfully." Instead, Balague recommends focusing on things you can control ("one foot in front of the other," "run tall," or "breathe easy"). These messages can ease performance-related stress and relax your body, helping you run better.

Sean Lloyd, a 30-year-old computer analyst and marathoner from Round Hill, Virginia, has about a dozen mantras he keeps in rotation. He usually settles on one at the start of a run based on how he feels that day. Lloyd says he tried a number of motivational sayings before finding a few that worked for him, including "I think I can, I think I can, I know I can." He'll experiment with them during a tough stretch of a training run. "When I can't keep focused on a mantra, I know it's not right," he says.

Indeed, Walker says to treat a mantra like a pair of running shoes. "You wouldn't wear them in a race without breaking them in," she says. "In the same way, it's important to take a potential mantra on a test run." If you feel silly saying it or it doesn't inspire you, then it probably won't work.
Fast Talk
Ever wonder what's going through the minds of top athletes? Here are some mantras that keep them pumped.

Gabriel Jennings Team Running USA member, 1500 meters
When Jennings, 28, was running for Stanford University, he memorized the Declaration of Independence. "During a run, I'd just repeat it," he says. Today, he reads a poem a day. "Often I'll take a stanza and run to it."

Bill Rodgers National Distance Running Hall of Famer
For Rodgers, 59, it's a word emblazoned on a poster of him winning the 1979 Boston Marathon. He used it at the 2006 White Rock Marathon. "I turned to my running buddy and I shouted, 'Relentless!' I ran my best time of the year."

Deena Kastor Olympic bronze medalist, U.S. women's marathon record holder
"Before I won the Chicago Marathon in 2005, my coach, Terrence Mahon, said, 'Today, define yourself.' This was so powerful; the entire race I repeated, 'Define yourself.' I've also used 'Go faster' and 'Push harder.'"

Alan Culpepper 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon champion
Culpepper gets through tough workouts with a host of mantras. "I say things like 'Stay focused,' 'Run hard,' and 'Make yourself breathe.'" He pushes through a struggle with "The pain won't get any worse, you can handle it."

Frank Shorter 1972 Olympic Marathon gold medalist
For Shorter, misery loves company--at least during a race. "At certain hard points in a race, I joke with myself and think, They [the other runners] can't be feeling that much better than I am right now."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Pack Rules: Tough It Out

Happy New Year!!!!!  I am mentally weak when it comes to pushing myself and pain.  So I like this article because it gives some good ideas to help me!

Essential advice from runners and readers.  

By Yishane Lee
From the February 2009 issue of Runner's World

1. Break It Down
Forget the big picture; think small. "When things get tough, I know I can always run just one more mile," says Jess Norton of Seattle. Or try something shorter. Adrienne Ramsey of Hingham, Massachusetts, tells herself, "You can do anything for one more minute." Jeff Rothman of Los Angeles targets landmarks. "I say to myself, 'Get to that building 300 meters from here.' Then, 'Now get to that tree 200 meters ahead...'" Harry Thompson of Charlotte, North Carolina, uses moving targets. "I make a game of trying to pick off people who are ahead of me one by one," he says.

"I think, If I stop running, how am I going to get home?" -Josh via

2. Repeat a Mantra
Follow the lead of elites, and tap into the power of words. "My favorite saying is 'Do or do not; there is no try.' It's from Star Wars," says Brian Sell, 2008 U.S. Olympic marathoner. Steve Prefontaine's "Pure guts race" inspires Octavius Bonacquisti of Austin, Texas, while Kellana Hindert of Cincinnati invokes Ryan Hall's "Run the mile you are in." A runner who wishes to be known simply as Jeff repeats Lance Armstrong's "Pain is temporary; quitting lasts forever." Heidi McIlroy of Kent, Washington, takes a different approach, talking trash-to herself. "I say things like, 'Legs, you're fine. No big deal. That hill? Hardly anything. Don't be such wimps, just keep moving.' Works like a charm."

3. See Success
Cara Hawkins of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, imagines she's racing against Bernard Lagat, Alan Webb, or Kara Goucher-and winning. Says a runner who calls herself Bunny of Ann Arbor, Michigan, "I think about the last guy that broke my heart-then I think about passing him." A runner named Vince, in training to go to Iraq, imagines outrunning an insurgent in a combat situation: "Any improvement now will have life-saving effects later." Police officer Katie, who patrols an urban area, reenacts foot pursuits on her runs. "The adrenaline kicks in, and I forget about the pain," she says.

The Tough Keep Going

85% have never dropped out of a race
70% say a bad run doesn't ruin their day
63% would never take a pill to PR
46% say their brains give out before bodies on long runs
40% have never cried during or after a race
Based on respondents to polls

4. Think Hard
"I've learned that when I really focus on one thing, I won't think about what hurts," says James of Fort Worth, Texas. Lindsey Schaffer of Pullman, Washington, says, "I make sure my shoulders aren't tense, my footfalls are straight and firm, my back is straight, and that each breath is deep. The miles have passed before I know it." Patrick Gerini of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, says he concentrates on the sound of his footfalls and breathing: "I hypnotize myself this way." Ric Stewart of Lyons, Georgia, suggests thinking about body parts that don't hurt: "My index finger feels great!"

5. Remember the Reward
"I bargain with myself-I don't have to do anything for the rest of the day, and I can eat whatever I want," says Ashleigh Griffin of Midland, Texas. Margaret Turner thinks about her postrun steak and big glass of red wine. Kendra Pudlowski of Jefferson City, Missouri, reminds herself that she lost 118 pounds in the past year through diet and exercise. "I recently won my age division at a local 5-K," she says. "Running is what sets me apart from others around me struggling to be healthy."

6. Listen Up
"The best thing to keep me going is a song in my head," says Nathan Gringras of Richmond, Virginia. Like many runners, Joel Harrison of Fair Oaks, California, goes for the theme song to Chariots of Fire. "Mos Def & Massive Attack's song 'I Against I' helps me remember that it is only a battle between my mind and my body," says Cathryn Windham of Austin, Texas. John Frenette of San Francisco, likes all kinds of aggressive music. "It helps me dig deeper and re-channel energy," he says. Jean Owen prefers the spoken word. "When I feel like I'm about to give in, I switch to an audiobook," she says. "I like thrillers and mysteries-they keep me on edge."

7. Work Your Brain
Remi Hoffman of Berline Heights, Ohio, counts footsteps, while Simon Moyse of Snohomish, Washington, says he simply counts to 10 repeatedly. "Before you know it, you've done that 60 times and you're 10 minutes closer to your goal." Some smart runners make their minds really work. "I do mental math, like long division or multiplication," says Christine Cruz of Rockledge, Florida. "It's an easy way to keep my mind from thinking about how much longer I have to run." "I conjugate the verb 'to run' in Spanish in as many tenses as I can remember," says Jess Christensen of Earling, Iowa. "Corro, corres, corre, corremos, correis, corren..."

8. Don't Embarrass Yourself
"There's nothing worse than looking like a sucker walking down the road all sweaty six miles from home," says Joshua Lundin of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. "Having people around witnessing my run is like being accountable-as if I'm thinking about walking as soon as they're out of sight," agrees Ali Collier of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "I form a mental picture of my proud family and their big grins at the finish line," says Julie Bledsoe of Greenwood, South Carolina. "It gets me through every time."

"I dedicated each mile in a marathon and kept running so I wouldn't have to fess up to walking anyone's mile!" -Annie Tindall Birmingham, Alabama

9. Keep It in Perspective
"I think about how I made it through delivering a nine-pound baby-twice!" says Griffin of Texas. "I remember when I went through a divorce, and when my house burned down," says Doug Widowski of Rockford, Illinois. "I remember how I have had surgeries on both my knees," says Noah Brooks-Motl. "And I've made it this far." Says Krista Englert of Rochester, New York, "I survived two combat tours to Iraq. Pain on a run is nothing that I can't handle."

10. Count your Blessings
"I remind myself that any kind of running is a luxury I am afforded," says Brenda Carawan of Virginia Beach, Virginia. "There are too many people who wish they had two legs to run on. I am thankful for the body I've been given." Kathie Cheswick of Thunder Bay, Ontario, works in an outpatient physiotherapy clinic. "I run a mile for the patients who have touched me the most," she says. "I usually run out of miles before I run out of patients to run them for."