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.

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.


So what does barefoot running do for you?

In my last post – we looked at what is barefoot running, and is behind the recent renewed interest in running both barefoot and with minimalist shoes.  As pointed out – the biggest benefit comes from 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 this post we’ll look more specifically at the touted benefits of “barefoot” running.

In general, there tend to be fewer chronic injuries from “barefoot” running  – for purposes of this post I will include minimalist running (running in thin soled or minimal shoes) in the discussion.

It’s helpful first understand the problem that barefoot running is trying to fix.  Shoes are a great way of providing extra support to the bones and structure of our feet, and protecting the soles of our feet from rocks, twigs and sharp objects as well as the abrasion that can come from running on hard or rough surfaces (not to mention keeping your feet clean – especially if you run on horse trails like I do!).  However, running shoes may have introduced a bio-mechanical problem of their own.  As shoe and cushioning technology has advanced, it has naturally (or as a byproduct) sometimes resulted in a heavier or more pronounced heel strike for many runners (this means that they land on their heel first when their foot strikes the ground).

As pointed out in a recent New York Times article, barefoot on cement2“Proponents [of barefoot running] say barefoot running is more natural — humans evolved to run without shoes — and economical. When you lift a shod foot, you have to lift the weight of the shoe, and that requires energy. Added to that effort is the cushioning in shoes, which absorbs energy that should go into propelling you forward.”  Proponents of barefoot running also point out that a mid-foot or forefoot strike more evenly distributes the force of the strike throughout the foot structure instead of directing the force up from the heel to the knee and hip joints.

So this brings us to the questions of whether your foot-strike really does make a difference, can you change it, and if “barefoot” running is the only way to get these benefits – and we’ll look at those in the next post.

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.


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.

Want to know the best time of day to run ? Part 2

If you want to find your best time of day for running, I recommend that you try different times of day  – and try them more than once.  This will give you an opportunity to feel how your body responds at different times of day.  By trying a certain time of day more than once you will make sure you didn’t rule out a time just because you tried it on an off day.

Mountain sunsetAfter hearing this, the question most people ask is a variation on:  “But isn’t there a time of day when I will get the most benefit out of the effort I put into running – when I will burn more fat, get maximum cardiovascular benefit, strengthen my muscles the most, etc.”.  To answer it simply – no.

Your maximum benefit comes from doing exercise consistently – and you are more likely to do that if you feel good.  Put another way – you are least likely to be consistent about running  if you try to do it at the time of day where it feels the worst, you “feel” the least benefit, and it fits the worst in your schedule.

Coming up we’ll look at the question of how to get maximum metabolic benefit from your running in order to address the question:
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?


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

So what’s running going to do for me?

I often get asked this question in various forms when I talk to people about running.  Enjoying running like I do, it’s easy to talk about or recommend running to people who ask about adding it to there fitness routine or just want to find out more.
Here are a few of the benefits you can expect to get from running:

1.  Weight loss
This one is relatively simple – if you don’t change anything else about your lifestyle, but you add in running, you will start burning extra calories (about 100 per mille) – stay consistent and they added up quickly.

2.  Stress management
Running is a great way to deal with the stress and pressures of life and leave them out on the track or trail.  Aside from the benefit of the physical activity, you’ll also feel better and get a big boost from the endorphins that running can provide (heard of the “runners high”?).

3.  Availability7658716_s
Take your running shoes with you and can run just about anywhere.  Whether it’s joining some friends after work for a run on some trails or keeping up your fitness routine when you travel, there is almost always an opportunity to run – either indoors or out.

4.  Health and Longevity
Mentioned in the last post, numerous studies have been done that tie regular consistent running to a healthier and longer life.  One of those published in Time magazine is linked here – but if you search the internet you will find numerous studies that consistently show these benefits.

5.  It’s something you can do alone or with friends
There are many great things you can do for fitness, but this is one that you can do either solo, or in a group (and I do recommend running with others).  As an added bonus, planning for running with others, or signing up for an upcoming race can be a great motivation to get yourself to a new fitness plateau.

6.  Overall fitness
This is kind of a given since running aids your health and longevity.  It benefits you from a cardiovascular standpoint, from a strength and mobility standpoint, and can help burn off some of the stubborn body fat that you may struggled to get rid of.  This hits several points all at once and actually benefits joint health as well.  Just be smart about running shoes and where you run – more about that in an upcoming post.

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



It’s a new year – now what?

Less than a week into the new year, many people are rethinking their New Year’s resolutions and thinking about whether they should give up on them already and considering how realistic they were in the first place.

Don’t give up!
Even if you’ve missed some days, you still have almost the entire year ahead of you.  I’d encourage you think about the positive Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photoscompounded changes you will be enjoying a year from now if you stick with it!  Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve already broken your resolution – any positive movement forward you make moves you closer to your goal than you were last year.

You didn’t get to where you are today overnight, and you won’t reach your health goals overnight either.  The important thing is to keep moving forward and keep doing the good things that move you toward a healthier lifestyle.  You should also continue to review what other little steps you can take to move toward a healthy lifestyle.  Consistently keeping little changes will add up to big changes over time.

If you think you don’t have time to exercise, this post is for you.

I was reminded this morning about how easy it is to find ways add more movement and natural exercise to your day.
I hear every week from people who tell me about how busy they are and how they just don’t have time for exercise or fitness.

I think that you can make exercise a priority and find time in your day for some focused or planned exercise – this is the best way to make it work – actually plan exercise in to the schedule of your day.  However, if you or someone you know insists that they just don’t have time for it, I’d like to make a couple of suggestions for how you can incorporate important elements of physical fitness into your daily life.

1.  Skip the elevators.  I’d suggest doing this all the time – up and down, but even if it’s just on the way down, the extra walking and the jostling from taking the steps will do your body good.

2.  Walk to your mailbox.  When you get home, don’t drive up to your mailbox or stop by it as you enter your building.  Take a walk down your driveway to get your mail, or walk down the steps in your apartment building to get your mail.  Look for ways like this to add some extra steps to the things you have to do anyways and burn a few more calories along the way.

3.  Take a walk break at least every hour at work.  Studies consistently show that sitting for extended periods is not good for you, and in fact cause physiological changes in your blood chemistry and metabolism.  Take a short walk periodically, or stand for short periods while doing your work.  Some work places will even allow you to have a standing workstation.

4.  Park a little further from the store.  When you go on errands, stop looking for the closest parking space.  You can save time and get a walk in by choosing a spot a little further out in the parking lot.  Your vehicle’s body will be less likely to get dents and dings, and your body will benefit too.   If you only have a bag or two when you come out of the store, carry them instead of using a cart.

There are many other things you can do as well to add what I call natural exercise to your day.  While I don’t think it’s a total substitute for deliberate planned exercise, it’s a good way to get some extra movement during the day. Remember, your body was made for movement, and finding ways to incorporate natural elements of movement and fitness during your day is one way to help keep your body healthier.  You might find that it motivates you to schedule some time in your day and build it in your schedule.

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