Get out and find something new

This is another post about fitness as a part of a healthy lifestyle.

While I talk about running below – this could apply to walking, hiking, biking, or any activity that gets you outside and exploring new vistas.

And exploring new vistas is another one of the things that I love about getting out when I travel.  I never know just what I might find on a run or walk in a new place, but it’s always a great way to get my bearings for what’s around and see what interesting sights I might find.gators

On a recent business trip to Florida, I decided head out one day and get off of the paved paths and see what unpaved trails I could find for a run.  For me – this was like finding a prize:

While the places I discover typically don’t have warning signs like this or hold this promise of potential adventure, nonetheless it’s still fun to see what you might find as you walk/run/hike and explore your surroundings. I think you can make it a fun challenge to find new and different places to incorporate some sort of physical activity as a part of your healthy lifestyle.

So whether it’s at home, in your neighborhood or some part of the city or town you live in – or somewhere new while you are traveling – get out and explore!  You just might find a new favorite place to get out and move!

Questions, comments, or your take on this?  Use the form below – I’d love to hear from you.

Another Reason I Run

I’ve considered myself to be a “runner” for over 25 years.

What started out as a move of desperation to try to burn off some quickly accumulating post-marriage pounds became something I love, and is now a passion – one that I enjoy, and that I enjoy sharing with others.

One of the true pleasures that I get from running is sharing some of my favorite trails and routes with friends.    I’m blessed to live in the mountains of North Carolina, which gives me access to many horse trails for running.

I love the beauty of the outdoors, the fresh air, the time away from the noise and buzz of society and the opportunity to enjoy the sounds of nature.  I also enjoy being able to share these paths and trails with friends.

This also serves me well as a motivation for running.  Believe it or not – even someone who loves running needs a little motivation once in a while – whether to pick up the pace, or sometimes just a little extra encouragement to get off my butt and hit the trail.

You may also find the sense of reward and fulfillment that comes from sharing a fitness activity you love, or sharing a favorite trail – or from just helping someone make regular fitness activities a part of their lifestyle.robert2-1

In this case, I was able to share one of my favorite routes with my friend Robert.   While Robert is already a runner – he had never run this trail before.  In this picture we had just finished the 4 mile ascent and were taking a moment to enjoy the view before starting back down the trails.

Whether it’s sharing the love of running, or sharing a favorite route – I think you will also find the rewarding feeling that comes from sharing your passion for fitness with someone.  You just might be the encouragement they need to make fitness a part of their healthy lifestyle.

Questions or comments – use the form below – I’d love to hear from you.


Sometimes I Even Touch the Ground

Today’s post is from a friend and running buddy of mine.  After telling me about his new running shoes, he agreed to share his experience with them here:

Sometimes I Even Touch the Ground
Dean Moyer
Valle Crucis, NC

Last summer I was doing some speed work when a younger runner went flying by me. At one point I think he even touched the ground. As he disappeared into the distance I wondered how fast he’d be running when he was fifty. I continued. Several miles later, shortly after a turn-around, I heard the rushing of wind behind me when my young runner friend suddenly reappeared. This time he slowed, touched the ground again long enough to ask, “hey mind if I run with you?” I chuckled and said, “if you can keep up.”  As we finished out the run I asked about his shoes. Every runner I know is looking for perfect shoe, the perfect shoe deal or both. I’m no different. He told me about his SKORAS. My interest was piqued. But then a shoulder injury sidelined me for three months. Argh!SKORA

After a three-month hiatus from running, I had not forgotten about the SKORAS. In fact I had been plotting. I decided to reward myself with a new shoe. It was time. The perfect time. They were on sale. I strapped on my new BASE and I was hooked. An almost perfect fit (I’ll get to this later), cool look and an awesome feel. As a forefoot runner these were “it.” After several weeks of running in them I decided to get a pair of their premium shoe, the FORM. I’ve run in them for just over a hundred miles now. Can I tell you how much I love my new goat leather foot gloves?!

Here’s a brief review:

Sizing/Fit: For the BASE, it was suggested I order an 8. As a normal 8.5 wearer I found them to be slightly small. My toe doesn’t rub. But I’m afraid to do long miles in them. So for the FORM I ordered an 8.5. Much better. However, if truth be told, I think an 8.25 would be best. But not to worry. The elastic adjustment strap on the heal snugs the shoe to fit nicely.

Comfort: Both shoes are extraordinarily comfortable. But you can’t beat the feel of leather on skin. FORM wins! I did go through a very brief period of blistering. However, I think it may have more to do with the tenderizing of my feet due to the surgery hiatus. I wore socks once. I prefer the no sock fit and run. Neither shoe shows any signs of wear. Granted, I am not a 50 mile a week runner. But at 25 per week, they look like new. (Okay just a little worn.)

Terrain: My running route surfaces consist of mountainous paved roads, gravel roads, and trails. I feel stable and comfortable on all.

Performance: The design enables me to maintain a running form which is efficient and frankly faster. I am not a fan (One who watches from the sidelines) of the SKORA. I am runner who has found gear that helps me do what I love: run stronger, run faster, and sometimes I even touch the ground.


Questions or comments?   Please use the feedback form found below – I’d love to hear from you.


What is the deal with barefoot running?

barefoot running on asphaltI get questions about barefoot running all the time.  People wanting to know what all the buzz is about and if it’s just a fad or something they should be doing.  This post provides a brief description of barefoot running, and I will also explain some of the benefits from “barefoot running”.  In some upcoming posts we’ll look at how you can obtain these benefits even if you don’t run barefoot and why you want them.  We’ll also cover the questions of Should I be doing it?  Does this mean I don’t need running shoes any more?  How do I do it?  Is it better for me?  How do I start?

Barefoot running is really what it sounds like – it is running barefoot without running shoes.   If you think about the history of running, barefoot running isn’t really a fad – it’s been around for a  long time, as the running shoes we wear now are a product of the last few decades of advances in running shoe science and design and for much of history, running was either done barefoot, or with the shoe wrapped in some type of animal hide or moccasin.

There is a second and closely related type of running to barefoot running – running in minimalist shoes.  There are numerous types of these from all of the major shoe companies – but the recent wave of attention to minimalist shoes was perhaps brought to most people’s attention by Vibram with the introduction of their quirky looking Vibram FiveFingers® shoes.vibram

So why the interest in and shift back to barefoot or minimalist running?  The biggest benefit that comes from running barefoot and in minimalist shoes is the way it changes the bio-mechanical aspect of running; the strike of the foot, the distribution of the force and stress of the strike, and the resulting shock transferred to the other joints (ankle, knees, hips).    In general, there tend to be fewer chronic injuries with barefoot running, though it does present it’s own set of challenges and opportunities for injury.  To answer the question I always get – does this mean everyone should switch to barefoot running?  Not necessarily  – and even if you do switch, you should do it carefully and over time.  More about that in upcoming posts.

Next up – How does “barefoot” running benefit you and do you need to run “barefoot” to get those benefits.

Questions or comments – use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.

Can you run every day to meet fitness and health goals?

In the last post, I began looking at the question of how often should you run.

One of the biggest determining factors in how often you run (or do any exercise) has to be your fitness and health goals.   This is because your goals will help keep you on track, drive you toward a measurable result, and encourage you to push on – even when you don’t feel like doing your run.  Short term goals like preparing for an upcoming race can help push you to run more frequently or to do a specific type of running workout.  We’ve already covered some of the benefits that come specifically from running in previous posts. It’s also helpful to also remember that regular exercise itself has so many beneficial effects on your body and overall health.

image courtesy of

In order to reap these benefits, exercise has to be done regularly – and I recommend that it be daily.  Can this daily exercise be running?  Yes, it can be.  Should it be?  That is where personal choice comes in.  If running is something you love, or is something that will help you stay on track with regular daily exercise, then a definite yes.  Can you benefit from adding other types of exercise besides running to your fitness routine to optimize a healthy lifestyle?  This also gets a yes, and we’ll explore this idea further in an upcoming post.  Also in an upcoming post we’ll look at what might preclude you from running every day.

To underscore the benefits of making this regular (and daily), I’ll end this post with a reference to a Duke University Medical Center research study that revealed that regular exercise IS effective in lowering bad cholesterol levels.  This study showed a clear benefit of lowered harmful cholesterol levels in participants who regularly exercised.  It also found that some exercise is better than no exercise, but the biggest impact comes from increasing the amount of exercise – as in doing it daily. It’s worth noting that jogging and brisk walking were the types of exercise used in this study.

Questions or comments?  Use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.

So how often should you run?

I love to run and have loved it for a number of years.  For those that enjoy it as much as I do (some might use the word obsessed)  going on a run more than once in the same day is not out of the question.  I’ve been know to get “my” run in early in the day and then go for a “social” run with friends later in the day.  Obsession?  Maybe – but I really do enjoy running –  not just the physical benefits I get from running; i just enjoy getting out, feeling my body move and respond, the endorphins (the so-called runner’s high – will be covered in an upcoming post) and the invigoration from feeling my muscles in use and the beat of my heart and air exchange from deep breathing.    So am I recommending that you run multiple times in a day?  No – you can, but even that is based on the same principles that answer our question of how often you should run.treadmill

So here are a few things to consider to arrive at the answer of how often you should run:

-Your fitness goals
-Your physical condition
-Your current fitness level
-Your workout intensity (HIIT, pace runs, etc.)
-Your other exercise activities
-Your current level of stress
-Your current sleep quality (or lack thereof)
-Any current precluding physical conditions or illness

Over the next few posts we’ll take a look at each one of these and unravel the answer to this question.
If you have to know right now – the most important principle is to listen to your body – it gives you feedback all the time; sometimes we either listen poorly or ignore the messages it’s sending.

Questions or comments – use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you!



Why I don’t always do HIIT

As described in some previous posts, HIIT is a great way to give an added kick to your workout, burn more calories, get a more intense workout in a shorter time – basically you’re getting more bang for the buck for the effort you put into your running.

So – why not do HIIT for every workout if it’s such a great thing?  I am asked this question from time to time.  More workout and more results in less time?   In this post I’ll tell you why I DON’T do HIIT for every workout or run that I do.  Here are four of the top reasons:17730394_s

  1. HIIT is intense!  It doesn’t just pack a bigger calorie burn into a shorter time, it more intensely works your muscles, joints, tendons, heart and lungs.  For this reason, unless you are an elite athlete you probably shouldn’t be doing this every day or for every workout – at least not at the most intense level every day.  If you do decide to make HIIT your regular workout, use sense regarding the duration of your workout and listen to the feedback your body gives you.  If your body is signaling to you that you need to back off on the length or intensity of your HIIT workout, or that you need to skip a day – DO IT!
  2. I enjoy the extra calorie burn and workout that comes form HIIT and packing a big workout into a small time, but I also enjoy the time I spend running.  While there are times when all I have time for is HIIT, I really do look forward to being able to spend the 25, 35, or 45 minutes running some of my favorite courses.  It’s nice to have that time unwinding, ,and thinking through the events of the day or challenges I might be working on, or to just let my mind relax while I hit the trail.
  3. I enjoy running in a race occasionally, and while HIIT will help you get better times in a shorter race like a 5k, I find that I also like to have my body very familiar with what it’s like to run continually for a longer distance – especially the distance of an upcoming race.  For me there’s a comfort in being totally familiar with distance and duration of a race – even better yet if I can do some of the training on the actual course of the race.
  4. I like running with friends too.  Spending 45 minutes with a someone on a Saturday morning running along a river or on a horse trail is not a bad way to spend some time!  I also enjoy the running the trails with someone a little better than I am so that I will push myself a little harder than I might if I were alone.

Use the reply form below to share questions, comments or your experience with running or HIIT.  I’d love to hear from you.


How to get more out of your running workouts with HIIT

So you’ve read the previous post on how to get the most of out your running in even a shorter amount of time and want to try it yourself.  You won’t just burn more calories with HIIT – you’ll also increase end up aiding your cardiovascular system and increasing your normal running pace.I recommend that you take it easy when adding this in to your workout/running routine; if you are new to running or just beginning to get into shape don’t overdue it!  While High Intensity Interval Training can give you the same workout (or even more of a workout!) in a shorter amount of time – it IS more intense.  You’ll find a lot of references to HIIT on the internet, but her is how I suggest that you do it.

I always recommend that you warm your body up first rather than jumping right into HIIT.  Depending upon the length of your run or workout, the length/duration of this warmup can vary.  What works best for me is to either tack HIIT onto the end of an easier or shorter run (e.g. when I’m helping someone get started and running orpacing along with them) or use it as my workout/run on days when I don’t have time to do one of my “favorite” runs.  For me, that warmup involves a pace run* for 1/2 to 1 mile just to get my body, legs, heart and lungs warmed up and ready for the “intense stuff”.    *More about pace runs in an upcoming post – a simple definition of a pace run is that it is the natural pace you fall into when running for a moderate distance or moderate amount of time.

After getting warmed up, you will move into the HIIT portion of your workout.  I recommend that you follow this general pattern for the next 1-2 miles (remember – take it easy and don’t overdo it when you first start HIIT** ):

  • 30 seconds running at 90-95% of your maximum ability followed by
  • 30-60 seconds of jogging  (easy pace – try to not just walk if possible)
    -At the start of your HIIT workout, keep these recovery portions shorter
    -As your HIIT workout progresses this recovery or slower portion will get longer since your body will need more time to be ready for the next High Intensity phase

7978552_sI recommend 5 to 10 cycles as describe above (depending on your fitness level) followed by a 2 minute jog to allow your heart, lungs and muscles to cool down.  This method will not only burn more calories than a pace run but will also benefit your  cardiovascular system and also will increase your normal running pace and increase your speed in shorter (~5K) races.

By the way – HIIT isn’t just for running – it can benefit your other workouts too.

Questions, comments or want to say something about your experience with HIIT?  Use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.


**  I recommend that you follow the guidelines set forth by the Mayo Clinic regarding talking to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, especially if you haven’t exercised for some time, if you have health concerns, if you have an existing medical condition, or if you have any symptoms suggestive of heart, lung or other serious disease.   Please don’t take this lightly – our bodies have many complex inter-related systems and you only get one in this life – so make sure you take good care of it!


Burn more calories running in a shorter amount of time?

Previous posts have looked at some of the benefits of running and whether there is a time of day to get maximum benefit out of running, and whether or not morning is the very best time of day to run.

In this post I’ll briefly look at how to give your metabolism an extra boost and burn more calories with a shorter workout.

runnerThe key to burning more calories or gaining extra benefit from your exercise is intensity.
This applies to whether you are running, lifting weights, doing weight or resistance training – any kind of workout that you do.  The type of running workout I’m referring to is called HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training.
With HIIT you will burn more calories, your metabolism gets an extra (fat burning) boost, and you will boost other systems in your body as well (production of certain hormones).  The great news is that you can get these benefits without going to the same extremes mentioned in the previous post on boosted metabolism.  Some of you may find that doing a warmup and then HIIT is all you need to do to reach your fitness goals (if you plan to run races or with friends, I’d recommend training for those distances in addition to doing HIIT.

So how do you do HIIT?   It’s not just a matter of running “all out” or burning yourself out at max speed and then walking for a while. While there is a great degree of variation on what people mean by HIIT and how to actually do it I believe there is an optimal approach for the typical person seeking to live a healthy lifestyle.  In my next post I’ll give you my instructions on how to do HIIT the mrhlth way, some variations you can try depending on your schedule and goals, and benefits you can expect to gain from it.


How can you burn the most calories from running?

7658716_sFor many people, the main reason they got into running in the first place was not just for fitness’ sake or because the like to run.  If you ask them, you’ll often hear that losing weight or burning calories was what got them started at running (myself included).

As time goes by though – if you stick with it and run consistently – you reason for running shifts to other motivations and it becomes something you do for more than just weight loss.  However in the back of their mind, many runners still think about calorie burn for a number of reasons.

As a result, you’ll hear people talk about how running in the morning is best for calorie burn.  I am often asked that in question for – something like:  “Isn’t the morning when you will the biggest benefit from running; i.e. your metabolism will slowly ramp down after your run throughout the morning and you’ll burn calories for a longer period of time?”
If you read the previous posts on knowing the best time of day to run (part1 and part2), you know the answer to that is:  no.

So how can you burn the most calories from running?   And how do you get the longest post-run calorie burn?
The answer to the first question is this: be a regular and consistent runner and you will consistently burn calories.   Time of day really doesn’t matter that much – you should find and run during what you find to be the best time for you.

About that post-run calorie burn.   No matter when you run, you will burn extra calories afterwards as your metabolism ramps down – it’s just that this typically doesn’t last very long no matter what time of day you run for most people.  For the average person doing the average workout there less than half an hour boost which results in some extra calorie burn, but not all that much.   You will burn more calories and bring greater benefit to your metabolism by doing regular workouts – by running consistently and regularly.

There is one important exception to note however.   If your workouts are very intensive you will get an extended calorie burn that can last 10 hours or more.  This is vigorous, intense, extended exercise at the higher end of your ability.  In controlled studies, this is running or working out to the extent that drove many of the study participants to the point of nausea -(and this was for a 45 minute duration!) – not the kind of running that most people will do, will want to do, or should do on every run.  One North Carolina study documented a boosted metabolism for over 14 hours – but again, this came from a super-intense workout that you can’t repeat every day.

Is there a way to still get this benefit – even in a shorter workout?  Yes, and in upcoming posts I’ll cover both how to give your metabolism an extra boost and burn more calories with a shorter workout, and how often you should run.

If you have any questions or comments, use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.