Category Archives: Motivation

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.

Reality check. How far do you want to go this summer?

It’s May.  Summer will be here before we know it and it’s time to make things happen if you’d like to look back on a summer running season that will make you proud.  It doesn’t matter if you’re getting ready to take a crack at your first marathon or still trying to work up the courage to start running for the first time in decades, there’s no time like the present to get started.

We’ve developed a number of training plans to help runners of all abilities reach a variety of training goals — from that first 5k to a full marathon.  Here are the programs you can start right now, along with some not-too-far-off completion dates that should get you excited about how soon you could be reaching your goals.

Couch potato to power walker by the middle of August.  Even if you consider yourself completely out of shape at this very moment, you could be completing a 60-minute power walk with confidence in less time than you think.  Starting Power Walk before June will have you finishing the program the week of August 12.

From beginner to 5k racer by the middle of July.  If you can run a few minutes at a time, we can get you running a full 5k without walking in just eight weeks.  Starting Ease into 5k before June will have your ready to race by the week of July 16.  (To set your sights on a longer distance, Ease into 10k will have you running a 10k in just two weeks more.)

From 5k runner to 10k runner before the fireworks.  Ease into 5k graduates can build progressively to a 10k distance in just six weeks.  Starting Bridge to 10k before June will have you running the full 10k distance before July 4.

Putting a “13.1″ sticker on your car before summer is over.  If you’ve done any of our shorter programs, you know that the plans work.  Starting the Hal Higdon Half Marathon (Novice 1) program this week will have you running a half marathon by mid-August.  For a slightly different approach, consider Hal Higdon Half Marathon (Novice 2).

Celebrate Fall with a full marathon.  For most runners, 26.2 miles is a crowning achievement.  Getting there is just a matter of laying out your plan and executing on it.  Get started now with Hal Higdon’s Marathon (Novice 1) and you could ring in the first week of Autumn marathon-ready.  And again, for a slightly different approach, check out Hal Higdon’s Marathon (Novice 2).

 It’s pretty exciting.  Pick any of those timeframes above and imagine yourself finishing your last workout of the program on that triumphant final week.  All you have to do is pick your plan and get started!

Getting back on the horse?  

If you’ve started a Bluefin program in the past but didn’t finish, you can always start fresh with a clean slate.  Just open up Settings and select “Reset on next start.”  The next time you launch the app, you’ll be ready to begin.   

Alternative races!

We’ve talked before about what a great motivator signing up for a race can be. Fortunately, when it comes to the variety of races available, there’s never been a better time to be a runner. And since even the most enthusiastic athlete can start to get bored with everyday road races, we’ve rounded up some of the best (not to mention increasingly common) “alternative” type races out there.

We’re talking about the crazy, high-intensity, often dirty ones. Here’s hoping we can pique your interest and inspire some runners to get registered for something a little out of the ordinary this season.

Mud run.

A mud run typically gets you off the paved road and onto the trails, where you may be surprised to learn there is almost always more mud leftover from the last rain than you ever thought possible. No special skills necessarily required, but you do need a willingness to get really, really dirty. Throw on some old gear and have some fun if you can find one of these.

Color run.

A color run (often held to benefit a charity) is pretty much a typical road race where distance milestones are recognized with a messy splash of color across your body. It’s often a silly, fun way to liven up an ordinary 5k. Some people like these because as you might expect, the focus becomes a little less about competition and more about having a goofy, fun time.

Obstacle run.

These are tough…ranging from relatively short and intense to insanely long and grueling (think marathon with mud, water, and monkey bars). If most of your training has been running, you’ll definitely want to cross train and do circuit work to prepare your body for the obstacles. Usually the focus of an obstacle run is just getting to the finish line, and you’ll be amazed at the great attitude and camaraderie that builds around these things.

Ultramarathons.

Okay, we’re just going to say it. Maybe your crazy. There. Now that that’s out in the open, we’ll point out that for serious distance runners, there are races out there that make a traditional marathon look like a warmup. As you might expect, running two marathons back-to-back or grueling through a full 100 miles becomes as much a feat of mental strength as physical. If you are reliably completing marathons or are wondering just how much sheer distance you can set as a goal for yourself, explore ultra marathons.

How about you guys? Any recommended races (race types or specific events) for our readers?

Five ways to miss your next run

Nobody likes missing a workout. But even so, there are a bunch of things we do all the time that are setting us up for just that. Here are five common culprits that might seem like no big deal but can in fact lead to your next missed run. Continue Reading

Keep out of a rut with a change of venue

Ever run when you’re away from home? If you haven’t, try it next time you get a chance. The change of scenery can be downright refreshing, helping you enjoy running in a completely fresh way and remember there’s a whole world of routes out there (aside from the ones that start and end at your front step).

A huge part of being a successful runner long-term is avoiding training ruts and boredom. One way to do that is to regularly change up your running route. Here are four quick and easy ways to mix things up with a minimum of inconvenience. Continue Reading