Category Archives: Motivation

What you should know before running your first marathon

After the New Year’s contest we hosted on Facebook, we realized most of you are thinking about running a 26.2-mile race this year! Congratulations!

For some of you, this year’s marathon will not be your first and you’re already training for the big day. But if you’re a beginner there are probably a lot of questions on your mind right now.

We want to give you a head start by sharing what you need to know before training for, and running your first marathon.

1. Becoming marathon ready takes time and commitment

Training for a Marathon

Training for a full marathon takes time and is very demanding. Depending on your fitness level, your marathon training plan can last more than 18 weeks and suggests that you run up to 5 times a week. Take our App Bundle 5k to Marathon Progression Pack as an example. If you have no running experience, you’ll begin at a slower pace with a 5K training program and gradually move up to a more challenging running routine, until you’re marathon ready. This will take 44 weeks!

Your training plan will include weekends and long runs, which can be very tedious after a few repetitions. So the time commitment and mental challenge is something you should be prepared for if you want to start training for a marathon.

2. You don’t have to lace up every day

Even if you’re excited with your progress and can’t resist to get out there, you should never do more running than prescribed in your plan. Doing too much can lead to injury and overall burnout. Rest days are an important component of any training program, as they allow your muscles to regenerate and get stronger.

You can also build strength, fitness and prevent injury with cross-training, which is any other form of aerobic exercise that supplements your running, by allowing you to use slightly different muscles. Swimming, spinning, aqua jogging, yoga and Pilates are excellent cross-training activities you could combine with your running routine.

3. You might gain weight

While some people lose weight when marathon training, some actually gain weight! How is this even possible with all of the running you’re doing? The answer is obvious: your body needs food to fuel such a challenging fitness activity. But taking control of your cravings isn’t easy and you might find yourself eating more than you’re burning off.

If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight, try to figure out how many calories you need and focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet.

4. You can get injured

Injured runner

You’ll spend a lot of hours training to become marathon ready, so there’s a chance that you will get injured along the way. Acknowledging this possibility will actually help you to be more aware of injury warning signs. Runners who think they won’t get injured during the training period end up making injuries far worse, by ignoring their body’s signs and pushing through pain.

5. You’ll have to train outside

The treadmill might be your best ally when the weather conditions make it impossible to run outside. But doing all your marathon training indoors may actually sabotage all your efforts.

Since the race is done outdoors and you never know what kind of weather you’ll get on marathon day, you should do some of your runs outside and in less than ideal conditions. The more prepared you are, the better, and this includes running in the cold, heat and rain.

6. You’ll have to buy your running apparel in advance

Don’t buy new running clothes, shoes or gear to wear for the first time on race day. You never know if your new running gear is going to make you feel uncomfortable.

We advise you to stick with your tried favorites and to do a two- or three-mile marathon-pace run in your marathon outfit and shoes, four or five days before the race. This will give you time to adjust your gear just in time for the full 26.2.

This advice applies even if you’re running to support a cause. In this case, stay away from the cotton T-shirts (that usually have the charity logo on it) and choose running clothes made out of a synthetic material that wicks sweat from your body.

7. You won’t forget it

Running a Marathon

Last, but not least, you should know that, despite all the inhuman efforts you’ll make, running your first marathon is a life-changing experience that makes you realize you CAN do anything!

Are you racing this year? What will be your first marathon?

How to achieve your New Year’s running goals

The arrival of a New Year inspires most of us to dream big. Many of New Year’s resolutions are related to health, weight loss, fitness and, if you’re reading this article, running.

But from past experiences, we all know dreaming big isn’t enough to accomplish New Year’s goals. Turn your running resolutions into reality with these simple strategies:

1. Choose realistic and manageable goals

New Year's Resolutions

Despite all the quotes we read that tell us we’re capable of fulfilling all our dreams, that’s not exactly the truth. Unfortunately, setting New Year’s goals that are not realistic for you is just setting yourself up for failure.

But those motivational quotes aren’t wrong either. In fact, your chances of achieving your objectives are much higher if you choose more manageable, realistic goals.

This also means you shouldn’t try to change many different things at once. To avoid exhaustion, focus on your key goals and the path you need to follow to accomplish them.

2. Set small and attainable milestones

Running a Marathon

If your goal for 2015 is a really ambitious one, like running your first marathon, set smaller and attainable milestones. For example, try running a 10K and a half marathon before your 26.2.

This method will help you track your progress and keep you motivated as you achieve other great accomplishments along the way.

3. Get organized

With your busy schedule, it’s much easier to find an excuse when you don’t have your workouts planned ahead. Look at your weekly schedule and decide when you’re most likely to have the time to do the activities that are going to help you accomplish your goals.

And when you get out there, make sure you track your runs and write down all the information you think is important in a journal. It will help you stay motivated and hold you accountable. You can use a simple notebook or save your runs from your mobile phone, with our running apps.

4. Share your Goals

Share Resolutions

Some of us like to keep our New Year’s resolutions to ourselves. There’s no problem with that. But did you know that sharing your goals can actually help you achieve them? Telling your friends and family members about your goals will make them seem more real and you’ll get their support along the way.

You can also join a running group in your area and meet with them for regular runs. But if you can’t find one, try to get a friend or family member to be your running partner. You can set similar goals and even run your first marathon together in 2015!

5. Reward Yourself

If you’ve achieved a milestone, reward yourself with something special that will benefit your running. You can opt for a professional massage, new running shoes or gear. Just stay away from unhealthy food or activities, that can damage your progress.

What are your running goals for 2015? If you want to race or just stay fit, check our apps!

6 Tips for Running in Cold Weather

Falling temperatures and fewer daylight hours indicate winter is almost here. But they are definitely not an excuse to quit your outdoor running routine. In fact, running in cold weather will help you feel better, boost your energy level, and lose the unwanted weight before the bathing suit season.

Stay healthy and follow these ground rules to ensure your safety and boost performance this winter:

1. Dress in thin layers and choose the right fabrics

Running in the cold

When you’re running or moving at full intensity, you feel 20 degrees warmer than your starting temperature. So, when you’re dressing to hit the road, you should choose clothes that keep you warm without overheating and chilling.

Consider wearing several thin layers of clothing, starting with a layer of synthetic material such as polypropylene, which wicks sweat from your body. Avoid wearing cotton because it holds the sweat and will keep you wet.

The right outer layer should help protect you against wind and precipitation, while still letting out heat and moisture. A breathable layer of nylon or Gore-Tex will do the job!

2. Protect your extremities

About 40% of your body heat is lost through your head and 30% escapes through your hands and feet.

When you’re running in low temperatures, make sure you always wear a snug-fitting hat, gloves mittens and wool socks that wick moisture away.

3. Run into the wind

Running during winter

To avoid catching a chill when you’re sweaty, start your run into the wind and finish with it at your back. You can even break this into segments, running into the wind for about 10 minutes, turning around to run with the wind at your back for five minutes, and repeating.

4. Be visible

With limited daylight, it’s more likely that you’ll be running in the dark during the winter. If you can, avoid running in such conditions. But if you have to run at night or early in the morning, wear reflective and fluorescent gear and dress in bright colors, specially if the landscape is covered in snow.

5. Take it easy and forget speed

When running in the cold, you’re at greater risk for a pulled muscle. On such conditions, warm up slowly and run easy.

If you prefer to run in the morning or in the evening, when the temperatures are much colder, try doing it twice a day instead of doing one long run where you might get very cold toward the end.

6. Change quickly after a run

As soon as you stop a physical activity, your core body temperature drops. The same happens if you get wet from rain, snow, or sweat. To avoid chilling or even hypothermia, change to some dry clothes – including socks, gloves and hat – as soon as you can and get warmer at a shelter with a hot drink.

Do you run outside in cold temperatures? Share your own safety tips for cold weather running in the comments below!

 

5 Good Reasons to Start Running Today

Running is considered as one of the most complete workouts. It’s not only good for your body, but it also helps you to improve your mood and clear your mind.

If you’ve been thinking about lacing up and you’re looking for some extra motivation to get off the couch, read on for 5 wonderful reasons to start running today.

#1 It’s so easy to start running

Start running today

There’s no exercise more natural than running. And starting couldn’t be simpler! All you need is a good pair of sneakers and comfortable workout clothes to get out there and run.

Yet, if you’ve never hit the road before, you’ll want to do it slowly. By starting at a fast and uncomfortable pace, you risk injuring your body and losing your motivation.

Therefore, to get all the health benefits that running has to offer, be sure to choose the right training plan. If you’ve never run before, start today with our Ease into 5K app.

 

#2 Running can prevent disease

As you already know, an active lifestyle helps you live a more healthy and disease-free life.

In fact, many studies have shown that regular exercise helps to prevent cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Also, regular joggers tend to have a lower blood pressure, good cholesterol levels, and a strong immune system.

And the health benefits of running don’t end there. Your regular runs reduce the risk of vision loss, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

 

#3 Running makes you feel better

Running eases depression and anxiety

Ever wondered why you feel much better after working out?

When you’re running, your brain releases endorphins and neurotransmitters that can instantly lift your mood. It also lowers the hormones that can contribute to depression. In fact, mental health experts use running to help treat clinical depression and other psychological disorders such as drug and alcohol addiction.

But that’s not all. Researchers found that just 30 minutes of running could boost sleep quality and concentration during the day.

 

#4 Running helps you lose weight

You know – and feel – that you’re burning calories while you’re running. But did you know that, from all those gym staples, the treadmill is the one that helps you blast the more calories?

According to the Medical College of Wisconsin and the VA Medical Center, the treadmill (used at a “hard” exertion level) torched an average of 705-865 calories in an hour.

Also, regular exercise boosts “afterburn”, which is the number of calories you burn after exercise. This happens when you’re running a little faster than your easy pace, and a little slower than your fastest pace.

 

#5 Running can add years to your life

Running helps you live longer

According to experts, all you need to do to add years to you life is work out 2.5 hours a week (30 minutes, 5 times per week). Studies show that people who meet just this amount of physical activity are 19 percent less likely to die prematurely than those who don’t exercise.

You don’t even have to run at fast speeds! So, even if you’re currently out of shape, you should be able to run, live longer and healthier!

Five ways to get faster today (as told by runners across the web)

We’ve talked before about how you can perform better starting with your very next run and ways to avoid slowing yourself down for no good reason.  Both of those posts show that although most of what makes for a successful runner takes time and patience, there are some quick tips and tricks that can help you start getting faster right away.  Continue reading

Success Stories: Mark Rucker

At Bluefin, nothing makes us happier than hearing from folks who have had success with our programs.  Our users have accomplished some amazing stuff and we’re always honored and humbled any time we hear that one of our apps had played a part in helping someone get healthy or take their running to the next level. Continue reading

Four Olympic running performances to inspire your next workout

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to appreciate the Olympics (though it probably doesn’t hurt).  And while we’re sure you could turn on the TV or hop online and find inspiration from all sorts of sports at any given time of day as long as the Games are on, we figured we’d take a few minutes to share with you some of the most inspirational Olympic moments from modern sports history.  Because it doesn’t matter if you’re training for a gold medal, a personal best, or to cross that 5k finish line for the first time, we can all take something powerful away from the great runners who have come before us.

Here are four powerful stories that just might inspire your next workout.

Michael Johnson causes lightning to strike (twice).  Every once in a while, an athlete will come along who completely redefines what is possible in a sport.  Michael Johnson did just that in 1996 when he took gold in both the 400 and the 200, making him the first man to every accomplish that feat.  Check out Johnson and tons of other inspirational (non-running) stories at greatist.com.

Moral of the story? Take the most you could ever imagine accomplishing with your training.  Then double it.  You can do it.

Derek Redmond finishes the race (with his dad).  Redmond had dedicated his life to training for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.  His dreams of gold were shattered mid-race when a pulled hamstring yanked him from contention in a heartbeat.  With victory off the table, Redmond pushed through the pain to finish the race, crossing the line finally with the help of his dad.  Here’s the video, which is well worth a watch.

Moral of the story? Winning really isn’t everything, but sometimes finishing is.

Jesse Owens stares down Hitler himself.  It was 1936 and the Olympics were in Berlin.  African American Jesse Owens faced the toughest crowd of his career when he made history in the face of the Führer himself.  He was given a once-in-a-lifetime shot and performed at his best.  Read the whole story over at Olympics30.com.

Moral of the story?  Don’t let anyone intimidate you on race day.  Win or lose, you’ve earned your place in the competition.  

Wilma Rudolph beats the odds, every single day.  It was the 1960 Olympics in Rome and to make a long story short, Rudolph dominated like no other. She set records and won gold medals.  But the truly remarkable story is the one that starts the day she was born — premature, small, and weak.  Her childhood was plagued with illness and injury, sometimes making walking — never mind competitive running — nearly impossible.  If you ever feel like the deck is stacked against you when it comes to getting fit, Rudolph’s story might be just the motivation you need.  You can read the whole story now on ESPN.com.

Moral of the story?  Life may not be fair, but no matter what challenges your body throws at you, you can find a way to succeed.

Hope you guys are enjoying the Olympics as much as we are.  Get inspired!

Mastering your recovery

You train hard.  But when it comes to getting stronger and faster, it turns out that  how you go about recovering after workouts can be just as important as the work you invest in the first place.  Recovering smart can help you get the most out of your training, squeezing more strength and speed out of every mile you log.

Here are four ways to recover (smarter).

Eat right.  Especially when a big motivator for a lot of runners is losing weight, it can be tempting to look at nutrition mainly in terms of calories taken in and calories burned off.  But how much you eat is only part of the equation.  What you eat is really the name of the game.  Making solid nutrition a priority can be the difference between being a weekend warrior and a serious high-performing athlete.  “Fueling Up: What to Eat Before, During, and After a Run” is a post we published last year that lays out some very specific foods you can eat  throughout your day to give your body what it needs to (A) perform well during your run and (B) rebuild properly afterwards.  The short version? Carbs before, protein after.

Ease in.  Motivational quotes and inspirational sayings aside, your body really doesn’t care to “hit the ground running.”  Warming up slowly and following a steady build-up in intensity will reduce shock on your body, allowing your muscles to focus on getting productively stronger rather than simply recovering from the unexpectedly intense paces you just put them through.  “Post-Run Recovery Tips” on runningtimes.com gives some good strategies for easing in, including building up to your workout pace over 4 to 5 minutes and mixing up workouts between (for example) hilly and flat runs to avoid over-stressing the same muscles again and again.

Cool down.  You just worked your tail off, blew the doors off of your last run, and generally nailed your workout — surely you’ve earned a flop down onto the couch to catch your breath, right? No matter how much you may have earned it, resist the urge.  Just like your body doesn’t like going from 0 to 60 at a moment’s notice, it doesn’t like slamming on the brakes like that, either.  There’s a reason your Bluefin programs include a cooldown at the end of each workout.  “5 Ways to Cool Down After a Workout” from MensFitness.com stresses the importance of gradually tapering off your workout and stretching out afterwards, pointing out that screeching to a halt after intense training can lead to muscle cramps and big fluctuations in blood pressure.  A few minutes of walking and a good solid stretch can make all the difference.

Sleep well.  One of the most counterproductive things you can do is try to train while depriving yourself of sleep.  Those solid hours of shuteye are not only when your body reenergizes to prepare for the day ahead, but it’s also when it does a lot of the basic recovery work needed to rebuild tired muscles after a hard workout.  As much as it might up your street-cred at the office, charging along on no sleep with a big mug full of coffee isn’t hero stuff — it’s hurting your training.  How Running Affects Sleep (and Vice Versa) from Running Research News  has some very detailed information about the science behind sleep for runners that more than makes the case for getting a good night’s rest.  The good news is that getting enough exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve sleep quality, so running hard and sleeping well are absolutely compatible and even complementary.

Managing your recovery is critical to anyone who wants to take their running performance to the next level.  What do you do to bounce back between runs?

Four ways to share the love

While it’s true that, at a glance, runners can appear to be solitary creatures, we also tend to enjoy spreading the good word about the sport.  From favorite races to running tips to training programs, runners love to talk shop.  We like to think Bluefin programs bring something unique to the conversation, but it’s our regular users who typically spread the word better than we ever could.

If you’re a believer and are looking to share some Bluefin love, here are four easy ways to do it.

Share your progress.  All of our apps integrate Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to easily broadcast your training results after each workout.  Posting your progress will not only help motivate you, but it can get your friends and followers motivated as well.  Seeing your success week after week just might inspire a couch potato or two to step up to the plate.

Choose a race together.  Take a look at the calendar with your potential training buddy and show how with a few workouts a week they can be race-ready in plenty of time for the big day.  You don’t necessarily have to run together, but following the same program week to week can give you both some support.

Be generous.  In the grand scheme of things, most apps make for pretty inexpensive gifts and setting a friend or loved one up with just the right one can really make an impact.  If you know someone whose been trying to get going with a training program but just hadn’t managed to pull the trigger, getting them set up could be just the push they need.

Raise the bar with your running group.  If you have a circle of running buddies, help motivate the group to build speed and distance with a Bluefin program.  If, for example, they’re pretty confident 5k runners, suggest that the team start working through Bridge to 10k.  Even serious runners run the risk of falling into a training rut and continuing to push for longer, tougher races is a great way to keep moving forward.

Looking to stay in the loop on Bluefin happenings?  Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Swimming season?

Even if you don’t consider yourself much of a swimmer, there are two times of year in particular when swimming can look pretty darn appealing.  One is when the weather has chased you indoors to the point where you’re starting to get batty and the other is when warmer pool weather arrives.  That second one is where a lot of us are right now.

Yes, splashing around and playing casually in the pool is good exercise, but it doesn’t compare to the fitness benefits  swimming laps.  Swimming for distance is, hands down, one of the best ways to cross-train and build fitness.  If you’ve never tried swimming as a serious training tool, here are a few tips to get started.

Learn (or refresh) the basics.  Lots of us took swimming lessons back in the day and, like riding a bike, most of that will come back to you in no time. If you’re feeling a little rusty, splashing around a little informally to regain your bearings is probably a good idea.  If you never did learn proper swimming technique, there are lots of adult-oriented classes out there, not to mention some good information online.        

Find a lap pool.  A good lap pool is pretty much essential if you’re going to do any serious distance work in the water.  Whether your gym has a dedicated pool just for the back-and-forth crowd or you belong to a pool that has a lane or two marked off, it’s important you have your own space to work without having to dodge a crowd as you work.  Ask the lifeguard about any rules or just generally accepted lap etiquette that may be in place at that particular pool.

Check the schedule.  Especially as you’re just getting started swimming laps, getting to the pool where there aren’t a lot of people competing for lap space can make things a lot less stressful.  Ask around or check the pool schedule to see if there is downtime when you’ll be most likely to have some  room to yourself.  Again, lifeguards or pool staff can clue you in about whether there’s a big morning rush or a convenient lull in the afternoon that you should know about.

Team up.  If you weren’t exactly on the swim team when you were younger, there’s a good chance you have a friend or two who was.  Having a knowledgeable person take a look at your stroke and offer some basic tips can be hugely helpful.  See if you can find a swimming buddy to get you up and running.  You might even end up with a training partner both in the water and out.