conspiring against ourselves

Running up that hill

I do all my running inside. I don’t think I have run outside in over 8 years. It’s convenient for me, not having to battle traffic, weather, concrete. It’s easy for me to walk down into the gym at work and do my running there.

But running on a treadmill is not the same as running outside. No wind, steady grade, and a motor helping you out. There isn’t anything increasing the difficulty during your run, no running into a strong head wind, no running up hills. There isn’t any outside force throwing these things at you. You are in control.


You’ve been training on the treadmill for a while now, and you just signed up for your first race. You know you are ready, you’ve been training for a while, working hard. You start the race and a bit into it, it seems harder than it should be. You are running slower than the pace you normally keep on your treadmill. This sucks! You had plans of hitting a personal best but now you aren’t too sure you will be able to do it. All these outside forces have conspired against you, is how you feel.

Running on a treadmill is not the same as running outside. But it can be.


You are in control. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. You are in control on how difficult the run can be. Interval training, hill training, sprints, etc.

Being in control has its downside in that it is up to you on the type of run you do. It’s easy to tone down the difficulty and take the easy route. Your running up that hill and it’s getting harder and harder. You lower the incline to make it a little easier and you tell yourself that’s ok.

When running on a treadmill you don’t have to get back home. When running outside, wherever you go, you have to come back. If you run 5k out, you have to run 5k back. It’s easy to hit that stop button on the treadmill when you get tired.

So what can you do. A number of things.

  • Get to know the treadmill you run on. Modern treadmills have so many programs it shouldn’t be difficult to choose one that replicates what you need to do be it hills, intervals, etc. Having all these programs available to you can make it feel like a new run every time, and take the boredom out of treadmill running.
  • Set the incline to at least 1 percent. This should replicate the natural grade of the road. No road is absolutely flat.
  • Create your own program and use the speed and incline options to challenge yourself.

You are in control. Be your own coach and run the type of run that challenges you and helps you get to your goals quicker. You can make a treadmill run just as difficult as an outdoor run, but it’s up to you to do that.

The power

You have the power. All this is in your control. Take charge of your run and reap the benefits. Don’t take the easy way out.

The next 5k race you participate in will be much more rewarding. Running on a treadmill does not have to be a bad thing.

Yours in health,



I’d pay any price

I count the days that have elapsed, hoping to never stop.

If you read a previous post of mine, you are aware that I am coming off of a string of injuries. Injuries suck and we should do as much as we can to prevent them. Why wouldn’t we? I try my best to prevent injuries from happening, but due to what I do after hours, it can be hard to prevent. When you are sparring, grappling, basically busy in a full contact art, injuries will happen.

Having said that let’s look at what we can do to prevent injuries when exercising. Following these guidelines should result in more time training, less time on the sidelines recovering.


No one wants to get injured, he said stating the obvious. But if that’s the case why are we tempting fate? Why do we ignore the things that can keep us injury free? Some of us would probably drop a monthly fee if it kept us injury free. I guess that’s just human nature.

Here it is, a list of things to do and not do:

  • Keep it warm: Warming up is like stretching, most of us don’t do it. But it is important. My last injury I suspect was due to not being warm. This resulted in my being out of action for about 3 weeks. And it could have been prevented. Warming up the body warms our muscles, tendons, provides lubricating fluid to our joints, increases our heart rate and body temperature. All things that will help prevent injury. Take the 5 minutes to warm up and be sure that when warming up that you ease into it keeping your heart rate around 110 – 155 bpm.
  • How we do it: How we exercise is very important in preventing injury. Using too much weight, letting momentum of the body help us through a movement are things that can cause injury. It might be an injury that happens immediately like a thrown back from swinging the barbell, to sore joints from repeatedly overloading the joints. If you find you are compromising technique it could be because you are trying to lift too much.
  • The speed at which we do it: Slow and steady wins the race. Remember that. When we perform our exercises too quickly we open up ourselves to injury. Technique tends to become rushed and sloppy. Slow it down. I guarantee that doing the exercise slower will result in doing less reps with the same weight. I think too you will ‘feel’ more of the exercise, it will feel like you have put in more work. That’s why we do this, right?
  • How we do it part 2: It’s not just getting from point a to b, it’s how we get there. Following technique is very important to preventing injury. Incorrect technique can lead you onto the path of injury but it will also prevent you from reaching your goals. If you are not following the correct technique, you are not working the muscles you want to work. If you aren’t sure what is the correct technique, hire a personal trainer to show you. This could end up saving you money in the long term preventing injury and will also more than likely get you to your goal quicker.
  • No one want’s to: What do we do when we are done working out? We head home or where ever we are going, right? Just like warming up, no one wants to stretch. Stretching will prevent injuries be lengthening short and tight muscles. What do we usually think is the issue when we suffer back pain? We usually think something is wrong with our back, right? But, it very well could be tight muscles that are causing us back issues. Take the 10 minutes to stretch. You will benefit from it. One more note on stretching, if you are already really flexible in a certain stretch, than you don’t need to do that stretch. Having muscles that are too loose and long is as bad as muscles that are tight and short.


The less time we are injured the greater the quality of life we experience, the more we can do. When warming up or stretching, the things we don’t like to do, remind yourself why you are doing this and how it will help you do the things you like to do, or have to do.

It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality.

Yours in health,



the space to grow

No room, no problem

Due to circumstances are you limited to the amount of space you have to work out? Don’t have access to a gym? No room for a gym at home? Not to worry, there is a lot you can do in a small space. Read on.

The reality

For some of us, we need to have a place to go to work out. That’s part of the process, part of the motivation knowing that we are going somewhere where distractions from working out are limited. Some of us also need to participate in a group workout. We may need to go to a place to train because we need to learn from an expert. Yoga falls into this group.

But if you are someone who doesn’t need to train in a gym, and are looking for a tough cardio, full body workout, this is something you can do at home. If you have a space that’s roughly about 7 feet by 7 feet than you have all you need.

The program

You may not like the program but it is effective. Most of these exercises will exhaust you, but they will deliver the results.

You can do these exercises as part of a Tabata workout, or any interval type training. Let’s get to it:

  • Burpees – An excellent full body workout. Legs, core, chest and other muscles, the burpee hits them all. Burpees can suck because they can be so exhausting and defeating. But what a great cardio workout! And you can vary burpees to increase the difficulty and just to change it up and prevent boredom from setting in. You can add a front kick to the burpee, start the burpee with a jump to get the knees up, or even add a double kick out replacing the single kick out. Other options are to add a push up, or add a few. It’s up to you.
  • Jump squats – a leg killer! Jump squats are much like standing squats except on the upward movement, add a jump. This is a great plyometric workout if you put everything into the jump.
  • Mountain climbers – Great for the core, the shoulders, arms, and legs. When doing mountain climbers, I like to think of driving the knee in instead of bringing the foot in. This tends to increase the range of motion providing another benefit of this exercise. You can also change it up by doing things such as bringing both knees in at the same time, or stepping to the left, and then back to the right, and then back to centre.
  • Push ups – Many ways to do push ups. You can do the traditional push up targeting the chest or you can change your hand position bringing the hands closer together to hit the triceps. Want to target the shoulders? Put yourself into a pike position and when doing the pushup, think of doing a shoulder press.
  • Lunges – guaranteed to kill your legs. Want to add to the difficulty? Raise your hands above your head when doing this exercise.
  • Crunches – target the abs with crunches. Keep in mind you don’t need to move that much to work the abs when doing crunches. Keep your shoulders from touching the ground on the downward movement and you need only move about 2 to 3 inches. Think about pivoting at the hips and not curling the back.
  • And planks – Another great way to work the core. Add difficulty by moving one arm forward, or raising one leg, or do both at the same time.

There’s more

That’s just a small sampling of what you can do. If you don’t know how to do these exercises, consult a personal trainer. No space? No problem. It’s just up to you what you do with it.

Yours in health,


we do not take a trip; a trip takes us

Back in black.

Injury after injury after injury. I’ve been plagued the last 3 months dealing with injuries. I can’t train the way I want to, actually I haven’t been able to train much at all. I’ve had to alter my training as to not slow down the recovery of the injured body part. This has resulted in less than satisfactory workouts for the most part.

I don’t feel as good as I usually do, and I get frustrated when not being able to participate in the training we do as a group. It’s frustrating and has given me perspective.

But, it’s over! I have unofficially been cleared to train! My injuries for the most part are healed (it still hurts behind my big toe when doing lunges) and I will be a participant instead of an instructor in my Saturday class.


Having this time off has taken it’s toll. I don’t have the cardio I used to have and I’ve lost some strength too. It could be worse though as I was able to do some things, not being totally stagnant. It’s going to be a struggle but I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to feeling my heart beat at it’s max, my muscles being taxed to the end, and drenched in sweat. I miss that.

Knowing this I have to watch how I approach starting up again. I can’t jump in from where I left off. That may lead to injury, over training and a much short lived comeback. I have to do this intelligently, use my brain.

The plan

I have to use myself as the bar I measure myself against. On my Saturday workout, I’ll be surrounded by people who are in great shape and if I try to keep up with them I’ll be on my way to a short comeback. Check the ego at the door and do what is right, what is smart.

It won’t be easy, in fact it will be tough. Not so much the ego part but I find it hard to just sit back and to take it easy. I’ll have to live in my own world, try to block out what is around me and focus on what I need to do.

Having said that, here is the plan:

  • Warm up this week. Train this week to bring back some conditioning. Get the heart rate back up and not go into Saturday’s workout cold.
  • Rest. Be sure to get adequate sleep. Personally I think the importance of sleep is overlooked.
  • Use my brain. Know my limits and realize when I am approaching them.
  • Again, rest. Don’t feel that I have to push myself all the way through an exercise. Take a short break if needed.
  • Recovery. Eat properly afterwards to aid recovery from the workout.
  • Enjoy it. Enjoy the struggle and the journey of getting back to where I was.


That’s it. I think if I do these things I’ll be successful in coming back from my layoff. Time will tell.

Oh yeah, wish me luck.

Yours in health,