Friday, July 29, 2011

Research: Benefits of moving for women

Health-related links for the ladies:

  • Washington Post | Women paying price for physical inactivity - Clip: "The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington recently released data showing that, in a major reversal of public health progress, women's life expectancy is shrinking in 313 U.S. counties. Other public health statistics show that more than 60 percent of women are overweight, about 35 percent are obese, and fewer than half of all women 25 and older meet the federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic exercise compared to 51 percent of men."

  • The Independent | Yoga can reduce chronic pain, study finds - Clip: "A small Canadian study announced July 27 found that practicing yoga twice weekly for eight weeks reduced the symptoms of chronic pain and mental stress in women with fibromyalgia. The study is the first to look at the effects of yoga on levels of the hormone cortisol in women suffering with fibromyalgia. The condition, which predominantly affects women, is associated with chronic pain and fatigue, and symptoms such as muscle stiffness, sleep disturbances, and depression."

  • New York Times | How Exercise Can Keep the Brain Fit - Clip: "For those among us, and they are many, who can’t get excited about going for walks or brisk gardening, scientists from the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of British Columbia and other institutions have shown, for the first time, that light-duty weight training changes how well older women think and how blood flows within their brains. After 12 months of lifting weights twice a week, the women performed significantly better on tests of mental processing ability than a control group of women who completed a balance and toning program, while functional M.R.I. scans showed that portions of the brain that control such thinking were considerably more active in the weight trainers."
Get going, girls!

Inspire: Four dailymilers who rise + shine

dailymilers of the week
Looking for some inspiration?

The past few months, I've had the pleasure of interviewing a few amazing athletes for the dailymiler of the week series. Each approaching the sport of running (and cycling and swimming) from different angles, passions and levels, I can't say enough how much Allison J., Ben Byers, Richard H. and Nicole Z. inspire me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Run: Signs of a good race

Signs of a good race

"In running, you're successful just by doing it. You learn how far you can take yourself and how to compete with yourself." -- Sue Stricklin

Image © Ilona Meagher | NITRO Trailblazer 5K - June 25, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Train: Half marathon trng recap-month 2

Second month of half mary training was a lot of fun.

Weeks 5-6, I continued in Base Phase, where the trng objectives are to build capacity and endurance, increase injury resistance, and up muscle activation capacity. Training then moved into the first of two Build Phases where the focus is on continuing to improve aerobic capacity and endurance, and increase fatigue resistance at 3,000m and 10K paces. For these second 4 weeks, I’d give myself an A overall. I missed a handful of the plan's specified resistance workouts (ab training specifically for running); but, supplemented lots of swimming and stuck to my weekly yoga, feel I'm plugging away pretty well.

Because of the transition from base to build phases, one noticeable difference is the switch from incline/hill repeats to interval/speed work. As much as I miss the hills, I'm *really* enjoying the speed work (something that I'd never really done before because I was confused about how to go about it to best effect). I like the feeling of pushing myself, but also knowing how much to push and what pace I need to gun for. The Brain Training for Runners plan spells all of this out in crystal detail. That specificity probably isn't needed/desired by some runners who've had more experience with speed work and hill repeats and tempo runs and plyo exercises aimed at generating fast bursts of energy a runner needs -- but for this girl, it's the bee's knees.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Share: Active (yes). Blogger (not so much).

After letting Stressing Fitness languish for a few months, I'm dusting things off a bit. I've been pretty active since spring, blessed with lots of extended family stays at our house; doing volunteer work and helping my husband plan and host a huge June function.

I've also been enjoying being an Ambassador and member of the dailymile team this year, blogging over there sporadically; testing and reviewing fitness products here and there; and maintaining my online training log. Join me at dailymile to get my updates in real time.

One thing I haven't let languish is my race training.

Two months into a 20-week half marathon program, I've started cross-posting my dailymile training logs over here in weekly chunks so that they can be easily viewed (and returned to at a later date). I've gotten through the first four weeks and have four more to transfer, so bear with me as I add them in the next few days.

As much as the tagline for Stressing Fitness is 'You are unlimited,' realistically we are all limited -- I certainly am -- by how much we can do every day. I used to drive myself for years blogging. Now, I do it as I please, rather than worry that anyone out there will keel over if I don't get one, two or three posts up per day...or month.

*I'm* not going to keel over to ensure that *you* don't. ;-)

This blog exists for me, and any of you interested in popping in are very welcomed and appreciated for joining me. But life is to be lived, not merely written about. I do hope to be a little more productive in the writing department now that family visitors should be at a minimum, and I should have a little more quiet time to sit and produce some copy.

In the meantime, I hope your training is going well, and that life is smooth and bringing lots of smiles, wonder and blessings your way.

An august rest of the summer to you!

Challenge: PROVE it to yourself

Can't say enough how much I love this bolt of motivation:

Train: Brain training for runners-week 8

Heatwave fare: Nuked burrito, fresh salsa + lemonadeThis week was a planned drilled-back milage/recovery week, thankfully. Record-setting string of intense heat advisory days and I was without access to A/C for them. But, boy was it hot out there. Little cooking from scratch; lots of salads, microwave action. And barrels of homemade lemonade swigging, for sure.

Journey: Minnesota's Afton State Park

Photos from my trip to the fascinating (but water-logged) little beaches and trails of Minnesota's Afton State Park. The first day it was officially open following the 3-week state budget impasse and government shutdown, it's good to have access to these places, again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Train: Brain training for runners-week 7

Week seven begins the first of two Build Phases on the Brain Training for Runners plan. The change is immediate in two ways: Hill work is replaced by very specific interval training, and fartleks are replaced by tempo runs. I enjoyed the change, but still kind of hanker for both hills and fartleks, so they'll still make their way into my running.

Continuing to enjoy the progression and specificity of the plan, and feel they are the two key components to my not missing or messing with scheduled workouts too much.

Of course, dailymile keeps me jazzed and in my runners, too.

Nourish: Grapefruit cucumber basil cooler

Grapefruit Cucumber Basil Heat BlasterBeat the searing summer heat with this easy and refreshing recipe:

Grapefruit Cucumber Basil Heat Blaster
Serves 1.

Juice 1/2 grapefruit.
Add to tall glass of cold water.
Drop in a few cucumber slices.
Smash in some fresh basil leaves.
Toss in some ice.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Train: Brain training for runners-week 6

Soaking it all in...Sometimes, especially on summer holidays, you just have to take it easy and soak life's blessings and its energy in. The main draw of this week's training: being able to continue my running in the Northwoods of Wisconsin -- deer flies be damned -- and jumping into Pine Lake for sweet relief afterward.

Even with all the chillin', training was solid and strong. Yay!

Nature: Metaphoric sky blue + pink

"There is a great sense of freedom in soaring through the sky. You get a different perspective up there, seeing things that aren't so apparent from the ground." - Sonny Perdue, pilot

Image © Ilona Meagher | Boone County, IL - July 2011.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Share: Independence Day 2011

Independence Day 2011

Image © Ilona Meagher | Fireworks over Rusk County, WI - July 4, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Train: Brain training for runners-week 5

jul2011_N1199As an intro to this week's workout log, here's a quote from Brain Training for Runners on embracing training pain:

Fatigue-related pain is the subconscious brain's way of trying to convince the brain's conscious decision-making center to voluntarily slow the pace of running or stop entirely. The conscious mind has some leeway to reject this message and keep the proverbial pedal to the metal. But the only way your conscious mind can really reject pain's message ("Slow down!") is to accept the pain itself, because more pain is the inevitable price paid for not slowing down. All available evidence suggests that "mentally tough" runners accept race pain -- to the point of even welcoming and embracing it -- more than other runners, and that this acceptance enables them to run harder.
Of course, the pain he's talking about is the 'I can't go on...I need to slow down...pushing so hard hurts' type -- not the injury type. I worked on copping this attitude this week, with some good results.

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