Category Archives: Ease into 5K

Quick tips on running for weight loss

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the great feedback we get from Bluefin users, it’s that there are all sorts of reasons to tackle a program like Ease into 5K.  As you might expect, weight loss is a big one (not to mention a big theme among those taking on our New Year’s program right now.

Even serious athletes can have a tough time managing their weight.  Here are some basic tips to set yourself up for success if one of your training goals is shedding a few (or more than a few) pounds.

Train smart.  Having a plan is essential.  Otherwise, it’s just too easy start off with long, difficult workouts and burn out in a week or two.  Following a program like Ease into 5K makes sure that you are building up in a manageable, sustainable way.  Start slow and go from there.  You don’t need to run for an hour your first time out.  Following a training plan that lets you build gradually to that kind of distance is definitely the way to go.

Eat right.  It can be tempting, especially if you are super-focused on weight loss, to simply eat as little as possible.  Calories eaten minus calories burned equals weight loss, right?  Not exactly.  Your body needs good, quality nutrition to be a successful runner long term.  Don’t think of yourself as a dieter.  Think of yourself as an athlete.  And remember that athletes need to fuel up properly for maximum performance.  For tips on doing just that, check out our earlier post, Fueling Up: What to eat before, during and after a run.

Build muscle.  It might seem counter-intuitive, but building muscle can do wonders for your weight loss goals.  Yes, muscle weighs more than fat and that might not make a lot of sense if your priority is losing weight.  But the bottom line is that building muscle will improve your body’s ability to burn fat and lead to a healthier body overall.  Strong muscles actually burn up calories   If you’re looking to start getting stronger (without necessarily bulking up) consider taking the Bootcamp app for a spin.

Weigh in (occasionally).  Okay, the number on the scale is a good guideline to make sure your efforts are moving you in the right direction.  But it isn’t the only thing that matters.  Remember, you might not lose weight every week and you certainly shouldn’t expect to see that number drop every day.  Don’t get obsessed with weigh-ins.  Keep an eye on your weight over time to make sure that you’re getting the results you expect.  Failure to lose weight might mean that you have to take a look at your diet or other lifestyle issues.  But day-to-day, it should be a guideline, not a way of life.

This is a big topic and we’ll certainly want to dive into it in more detail over time.  For now, though, anybody out there running for weight loss these days?  How’s it going?  We’d love to hear from you!

Keeping Resolutions (New Year’s or Not)

We’ve been talking a lot about resolutions lately.  The rubber is hitting the road for our New Year’s group, who are right now in the midst of Week One in a push that will have them 5k-ready by January 1.

But regardless of whether you’re joining us in the New Year’s push, there’s still plenty to be said for making a commitment to yourself and seeing it through.  Read on for tips on how you can stick to your training resolutions, New Year or otherwise.

Get started.  Do you know the undisputed, number one reason that people fail to complete a training program like Ease into 5k?  They never start.  Don’t worry about how many weeks are in the program or how many workouts you need to get through in the first week.  Just start.  Start with the first workout of the first week.  Each of our programs are designed to build you up and prepare you for the workouts ahead.  Trust the program and get that first workout behind you.

Roll with it. Eventually, something is going to interrupt your training. You’ll have to work late, take care of a sick kid, get derailed by a family get-together — sooner or later it’s going to happen.  Or maybe you just fall a little short in the motivation department one week.  Whatever interrupts your program, don’t let it be the end of the line.  Just jump back in.  Pick up where you left off, rewind to an earlier week in the program, do a no-pressure 15-minute fun run; whatever it takes to get you back on the horse, make it happen.

Don’t stress.  Getting fit is supposed to be good for your mental health, not another thing to worry about.  Let your training program be your refuge from day-to-day stress and anxiety.  If a particular workout is causing you grief or you’re worried about your performance day-to-day, take a deep breath.  You don’t need to set any records, you just need to get out there and run.  Take the pressure off and make your goal simply to get out there and make it happen…the rest tends to take care of itself.

Find a buddy.  Nothing creates accountability like a running partner.  If your running style and your lifestyle will accomodate a running partner (or a group of them), there’s no better way to keep yourself honest.  It’s easy to stay in bed and skip a solo morning run.  It’s much harder to leave your buddy hanging on the corner.

Be social.  Don’t have a running buddy?  Sure you do.  Social media provides unprecedented  access to like-minded runners all over the world.  Our apps will even let you post your workouts to Facebook and Twitter right after you finish them (automatically if you like), making it easier than ever to share your progress.  If you’re looking for a great community of runners to start meeting online, check us out on Twitter and Facebook.  We’re proud to say we have some awesome fans and followers.

This is it! New Year’s countdown begins now.

It’s here at last — the beginning of our big Ease into K New Year’s push.  Hundreds of you have signed up to start the program this week, meaning we’ll be crossing the finish line together just in time for January 1.

We’ve blogged about it.  We’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter.  You’ve told your friends.

The response has been tremendous and we are humbled by everyone’s enthusiasm.

Not on board yet?  It isn’t too late.  Trust us.  Ease into 5K is a piece of cake to get started.

Feel like you’re missing the boat while everyone gets started with Week One?  No need.

It doesn’t matter how out of shape you are or how little you were planning on starting a 5k training program this week.  If you can jog for a minute, you can jump on board — today.

Make time for three runs this week, and you’ll be started down the road to beginning 2012 as a proven 5k runner.

What better way to ring in the new year?  Sign up today to join the movement.

5K Checklist, Last Week Until New Year’s Push

Next week is the beginning of our 5K New Year’s program.

If you haven’t already signed on, we really hope you will.  Here’s the link.  You won’t regret it.  If you have signed up, please help us spread the good word.  We posted some ideas on that here.

Now down to business.  Here are six things to take care of between now and next week when the program kicks off.

1.  Play with the app.  Take this week to get familiar with the interface and wander through the content a little bit.  It’s a good way to keep your excitement up while we all wait to get started.  Check out the different options in Settings and think about how you want to configure the app.  If you dare, skip around through the various weeks of training and start to take a look at what you’re getting yourself into.

2.  Do a laundry check.  Sometimes the little things make all the difference.  Do a quick inventory of your running clothes and make sure you have enough to avoid any unnecessary laundry drama.  Ideally, you’ll have enough to get through your three-workout week without having to wash anything.  You don’t want to fall behind on laundry in the middle of week six and find yourself with an annoying hurdle that makes training more difficult than it needs to be.

3.  Check your shoes.  If your shoes have been hiding in the closet for a while, don’t wait until November to dust them off.  Try them on, take a walk, and make sure everything feels good.  You want them to be comfortable and supportive with no major signs of wear.

4.  Pick up a case.  Most of us keep some kind of case on our phones.  If you don’t , this is probably the time to grab one.  Dropping your phone at the office or knocking it off the nightstand is one thing…spiking it off of the pavement is quite another.  Consider something with an armband if you’d like to go completely hands-free.

5.  Make your playlist.  Your music is going to be your training partner for the next two months.  Take some time this week to pull together your favorite, most motivational songs and start getting them queued up into playlists.  You might treat yourself to a few new tracks while you’re at it.

6.  Start hydrating.    The best habit you can develop in support of your training is to drink plenty of water.  Hydration isn’t something you should only think about when you are running.  Ideally, you’ll be drinking often throughout the day, whether you have a run planned or not.  Start now and follow through.

Last week before the New Year’s push! (Tell a friend?)

Next week marks the beginning of our Bluefin New Year’s program – nine quick weeks of running and your 5k strong by January 1.

If you haven’t signed up already, I hope you’ll take a moment to jump on board.  We’re building a great community of runners who are either embarking on the 5K journey for the first time or getting back on track after interrupting the program for one reason or another.

Regardless of whether you’re running with us in November and December, please consider passing the word along to friends, family, coworkers…anyone you know who might benefit.  No running experience is required – the program is designed to literally bring you from sitting on the couch to actually running the full 5k distance without stopping.

If you want to help us spread the word and maybe pick up a running buddy or two in the process, here are a few good ways to do it.

  • Send them a link to our recent blog post, “Rethinking the New Year.” It’s got everything they need to know, including links to buy the app and sign up for the New Year’s program.
  • Hop on iTunes and use the “Tell a Friend” feature to share the app.  Heck, if you’re really feeling generous, go ahead and make it a gift.
  • Recommend us on Facebook and Twitter.  We’ll be posting and tweeting plenty in the next week to get everyone geared up for the November kickoff.

The first week of November is right around the corner.  Hope you’re getting those running shoes laced up and ready to go!

Looking for a Race?

Whether you’re jumping on board the 5K New Year’s Program (details at the bottom of this post) or just setting your sights on adventures down the road, there are still plenty of races afoot this time of year.

If you’re looking for a race, the Race Finder tool available from the folks over at Runner’s World can be just the ticket.  You can search based on location, distance, and event size — plus choose a date range that fits in with your training schedule.  There are also options to query race type if you’re looking for something specific like a trail run, master’s event, or women’s only races.

It’s certainly a handy tool if you’re looking to find a race, but one of the best uses is simply daydreaming.  If you haven’t really planned on running a race and don’t have your eye set on anything in particular, goofing around in the search results for a few minutes might get your race juices flowing.  Consider letting yourself be inspired by some of the cool events out there and you might end up adding some extra incentive to your training program.

If you do sign up for something interesting, be sure to let us know where you’re headed!

Want to be 5K ready by January 1?  Join us  for our November/December New Year’s program.  Details below!

Remember, the New Year’s program is kicking off worldwide with the first week of November.

Keeping healthy as the weather turns

Here we go again.

It’s getting to be the time of year when many of us start to wince as we hear the first coughs, sniffles, and sneezes of the season.

For much of the population, that means fretting about a day or two of missed school or work.  For runners, the stakes are a little different.

After all, work will always be there when you get back.  Your fitness level, on the other hand, may not.

For runners (and athletes in general), getting sick means not only falling behind due to missed workouts, but losing ground on the work you’ve been doing week after week.

We’ll be sure to do plenty of posts about managing sickness and getting back on your feet, but let’s start off with a couple of ways to help you avoid coming down with something in the first place.

Eat right.  With all kinds of food-centric holidays coming down the pike, many of us are forced to navigate culinary temptations that would be unheard of any other time of year.  A little indulgence is one thing…just be sure to mix plenty of fruit, vegetables, and lean protein into the mix.  A stack of cookies may have tons of calories, but the real issue is the lack of nutrition.  Keep eating good stuff.

Drink plenty.  Our bodies simply perform better when they are well-hydrated.  Drink plenty of water, whether you are planning to train or not.  If the weather begins to get chilly, remember that just because you aren’t drenched in sweat doesn’t mean you aren’t losing water.  The dry air is simply soaking it up instead of your t-shirt.

Sleep well.  It can be tempting – even for those who maintain great discipline when it comes to diet, exercise, and other things – to skimp on sleep.  There’s nothing heroic about operating on zero sleep if it means you’re going to feel lousy and get sick down the line.  Take care of yourself.  Record your favorite late TV show or pull yourself away from your computer an hour early if you need to find a way to squeeze in some extra shut-eye.

Run hard.  If you do find yourself training while a bit under the weather, keep in mind that not all workouts are created equal.  This might seem counterintuitive, but in this case a hard, intense workout may treat you better than a longer, slower-paced one.  Some of the resources your immune system uses to fight off an illness are the same ones used by your muscles when grinding through a long workout.  A good high-intensity run or other activity can help your body focus on getting healthy rather than simply becoming more worn out.

Remember, the time to get aggressive about getting healthy is before you get sick.  If you do start to feel a symptom or two sneaking up on you, be sure to follow the tips above to nip it in the bud.  And above all else, if your body is telling you that it needs a day off, give it one.  Don’t sabotage your whole training plan for the sake of forcing a workout that might not be a good idea in the first place.

Stay healthy out there!

Rethinking the New Year

Okay…this is a dangerous time of year for those of us looking to recommit to fitness and start getting into better shape.  That’s because the closer it gets to January, the more tempting it becomes to stop thinking “get out there and run” and to start thinking “maybe that’d make a good New Year’s resolution.”

So instead of kicking off a training program or even just getting some less-structured exercise right away – we punt.  We kick the can down the road a couple of months and decide that we’ll get through the holidays, enjoy baggy sweater season, and then get down to business in January.

Well how about this.  Imagine it’s January 1st.  Imagine it’s January 1st and instead of stepping out into the chill to start getting back into shape, you’re stepping out for a victory run — maybe 5k or so.

Starting (or restarting) the program at the beginning of November will put you at the big finish line just in time for the New Year.  It’s a nine week program and it’s designed to get you from beginner to confident 5k runner in those two quick months.

Imagine that.  November and December could be your months.  Then you can really hit the ground running in 2012.

So how about it readers?  Give it some thought!  Let’s be ready for action in the first week of November.

If you’ve been waiting to start or if you’ve missed some workouts and are looking to start fresh, this could be the opportunity of the year.  We’ll be kicking off in November with anyone we can get on board and supporting each other both here and on Facebook and Twitter.

Stay tuned for more!  In the meantime, please take two minutes and sign up here to join other readers and 5K fans for the November/December New Year’s program.  You’ll receive a weekly e-newsletter throughout the program, beginning the first week of November.

Need the app? Click here.

Three reasons to strength train (like it or not)

Last week, we talked about circuit training (and suggested what we think is a darn good way to get it done).

If circuit training — or strength training in general — isn’t on your fitness radar, there are a few reasons that perhaps it ought to be.  Running is a tremendous form of exercise and not a half-bad way of life.  But that doesn’t mean it’s in your body’s best interest to run exclusively.

Here are quick three reasons to broaden your horizons with strength training, whether it’s through weights, cross-training, or circuit work.

Prevent injury.  Many “running injuries” aren’t so much caused by running as they are exposed by it.  If you have a potentially bad knee or a weak back, running can bring that budding injury to the surface.  Strength training will help you tackle the problem at its source, addressing potential problem areas before they get you into trouble.

Avoid boredom.  Running is repetitive.  Sometimes, that can be heaven.  Other times, it can be taxing.  If running ever begins to feel less like a groove and more like a rut, injecting some alternative training into your routine can help you vary your activity without losing sight of your fitness goals.

Get faster.  For some of our readers (and we love you), this is always the one that sells.  Building strength will help you increase your speed in a way that sheer mileage will not.  You can build muscle, cover more ground with less effort, and push through some of those training walls we hit when training through running alone.

Is anyone out there as enthusiastic about their strength work as they are their running?  Or maybe even more so?  Please let us know!

Thinking Pink this October?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

That means there are tons of great opportunities for runners, both to contribute to a great cause and to find new and exciting outlets for your running.

Fundraising runs and walks across the United States and elsewhere give us a chance to get out there and run in an organized environment while sharing a sense of purpose and camaraderie that’s a little different from what you experience on the average race day.

In fact, if you’ve been on the fence about participating in an organized run, an October charity run might be right up your alley (find one here).

Fighting cancer brings together people from all fitness and experience levels, meaning you might find that the overall feeling of an event is a little more fun and a little less intimidating.  You’ll often find more walkers and joggers in the mix, meaning that if you are unsure of your ability to run a full, competitive race, you’ll likely have no problem participating at whatever level you are able.

So, friends, if you weren’t planning an October 5k but want to get involved, how do you make it happen from wherever you happen to be in the program?

Newbie? If you’ve just started the 5K program and aren’t ready for a serious 5k run, consider just walking one this month.  Sign up with a friend or meet a new one while you’re there.  The walk should be manageable and you’ll get a good dry-run of a real race day, which will build up your confidence for a later race.

Running in progress?  If you are well into the program but haven’t worked your way up to a full 5k, consider just getting out there and treating it like any other workout.  You can even run your intervals on the course running and walking your way until you reach the finish line — no pressure, just go have fun.

Running Graduate?  Welcome to the show!  You trained your way up to 5k or more and now you can make it official.  Eat well, drink plenty of water, and have a great race.  You’ve already done the work!

You’ll hear more from us about Run for the Cure throughout the month.  Please don’t hesitate to share your experiences this October!