Fitness & Wellness

Managing the Early Aging Process as a Female Competitive Athlete

Managing the Early Aging Process as a Female Competitive Athlete

Being “Fast Over 40” as a female runner (or any athlete for that matter), is about more than just keeping your stride turnover fast, your body lean, and your strength and endurance primed.  The hormonal changes that occur, for most females, after the age of 35 can wreak havoc on a competitive athlete’s training regimen, overall health, and athletic performance.

I’ve met some of these challenges lately and many of my fellow running competitors have echoed the same experiences. Recently, several colleagues and clients have asked me questions about different strategies to manage these issues. I thought I would share some of what I have learned and experienced in this blog post. By the way, Masters men, listen up because some of these experiences and solutions may apply to you too!

To start, here are 5  important factors you should consider to help manage any hormonal shifts caused by the aging process:

1) Get your bloodwork done regularly (2-3 times per year). Equally important: learn how to read your own labs and study them so you can stay ahead of any downward trends or patterns in significant health, wellness, and performance markers. Remember the old lesson about the bell curve? You may be in the “normal health” zone at the bottom of that bell curve for a marker (according to a general practitioner), but you will feel amazingly better at the top end of the curve. I recommend going to either a proven, progressive thinking GP, or a GP who is also a Wellness Specialist.

**Specific markers to target in your lab work: Thyroid (specifically T3 Free and T4), Vitamin D, Ferritin (stored iron), Cortisol, and the sex hormones – Progesterone, Estrogen, Testosterone. We all should make sure that those three hormones are balanced as much as possible. There are natural ways to support all three (but that’s a future blog article!).

2) Make sure your GUT health is on point. If it isn’t you will not be properly absorbing any of the nutrients you are taking in. This is the case with many of us! For example, I take an elite multi-vitamin from 1st Endurance. It includes probiotics, among the other essential minerals & vitamins an athlete needs.  I also drink an organic “greens” blend every day (powder mixed with filtered water), and 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar each morning on an empty stomach, mixed with about 4 oz of water and a little raw honey. This truly helps my digestion and therefore my immune system!

3) Eat and absorb enough PROTEIN! Most of us do not take in enough protein to maximize our metabolism, muscle growth/maintenance, etc. Due to our high activity and weight bearing exercise, most active females should be taking in 1.2-1.3 grams of protein per day, per pound of lean body weight. (For males over 150 pounds the amount is even higher.)  To determine your particular protein needs, first you would need to know your body composition. (Fat tissue to lean tissue ratio) For example, If you weigh 100lbs and are 15% body fat, then you would need 102 grams of protein (minimum) per day. (85lbs x 1.2). An easy way to track this is and all of your macros and hydration is with the “My Fitness Pal” App.

4) Are you eating enough calories?? The “My Fitness Pal” App will also calculate this for you. For active women over 40, a standard calculation for your base metabolic rate is your body weight x 10.  Add to that daily chores and your bodily functions to sustain life…this number is usually around 300-400 calories per day for a female over 40 of average size and activity level. NOW, add in your workouts. Personally, I burn about 105 calories per mile at a 7-7:30/pace. I weigh on average 132-134 and I’m 5’7”. So let’s say I burn another 1000 calories per day from running, lifting/core work, etc. Using my data, I would burn at a MINIMUM, 2620 calories per day. If I want to lose weight I cut back by usually 500 cals/day to start. But if I want to sustain or  build muscle, then I have to eat enough protein and match or increase my caloric intake related to my caloric burn. If you take in too little calories for too long, your body will start burning muscle for fuel. This is why many endurance athletes are light and thin, but do not have optimal muscle mass due to not absorbing enough calories and protein.

5) Make sure you are lifting heavy weights (safely) 2-3 times per week and doing either a HIIT style workout or a pure speed workout (80-200m FAST repeats with COMPLETE rest) at least once every 7-10 days. This kind of work stimulates our human growth hormone and testosterone production, and therefore builds lean muscle and burns fat.

The above are not the only factors to consider for an aging (female) athlete, but they are the ones that, in my experience, have the most impact, (other than sleep and recovery of course, which is yet another future blog topic!).

If you have other suggestions, experiences, or any questions, please feel free to share. We are all better when learn from each other!

Run happy and healthy!

Are you working harder or smarter regarding your training?

Are you working harder or smarter regarding your training?

Effective cardiovascular training (such as running!) is all about organization…also known as prioritization in the competitive training world. It’s a term used for following a specific, 4-cycle training plan for a set period of time followed up with another 4-cycle training plan with a different focus. The approach is bio mechanically and physiologically sound and has been proven to be the best way to progress in your cardiovascular (running) fitness.

A training routine following the periodization principle follows this path:

I. Conditioning Phase: This is all about building endurance. Aim for a target heart rate that is 65-75% of your max heart rate during longer cardio sessions three-five times per week.

II. Efficiency Phase: Focus on speed with short bursts (30-90 seconds) of acceleration twice per week during cardio training. Add incline and/or resistance for a challenge.

III. Stamina Phase: Here we work towards improved V02 max by replacing speed sessions with interval training (3-5:00 intervals with rest periods of 90-120 seconds) mixed with tempo training (lactate threshold sessions of 5:00-10:00 intervals or 30:00-45:00 steady state efforts with 1-2 minutes of rest). The duration of the rest intervals is crucial!

IV. Performance Phase: Mix it all up at a high intensity by introducing training from the different phases (i.e.: speed intervals in the middle of a long run) followed by a resting interval for a high quality workout.

Here is the bonus tip: When you’re done with this cycle, it’s time to reset. You will have a faster, more efficient “aerobic engine” and can use the same principles to work it harder and better during your next cycle.

Finally, don’t forget to change up your mode of cardio. Try switching from your daily run to swimming laps, using an indoor cycle or rowing machine or an elliptical, etc. a day or two each week to keep your muscles guessing and to add in additional aerobic fitness without the pounding.

Commit To Stay Fit

Commit To Stay Fit

commit-to-fitGetting back into shape isn’t easy and it’s not a short project you can complete overnight. You must commit to stay fit in order to see any results. Committing to fitness means scheduling workouts on a regular basis and following through on them. It means insuring you have a healthy lifestyle in every way from eating a healthy diet to getting the right amount of sleep at night. It may not be easy, but once you make the commitment, it’s possible.

Identify a specific goal and write it down.

Before you can achieve any goal, you need to identify it, create a way to measure your success and a path to achieve it. There are a lot of different goals when it comes to fitness. You might want to lose weight, improve your aerobic fitness or just tone the body. All are viable choices. For a goal of overall fitness, you need to address several areas. One of them, of course, is exercise, but eating healthier, eliminating unhealthy habits and even getting enough sleep at night are other factors that affect your health.

Learn to eat healthier.

Eating healthier isn’t dieting. Dieting always ends. Even when you successfully shed pounds, once the diet ends you go back to old eating habits, which put on the weight in the first place. Instead, eating healthier means learning to make substitutions, cooking differently and choosing the right foods. Substitutions may be part of cooking differently. For instance, unsweetened applesauce can replace some of the sugar or oil in baked goods, lowering calories and improving it nutritionally. Choosing food closest to whole foods—the fruit or vegetables natural state—is always best. Get the help of a trainer or nutritionist to help you learn how to make these changes and you’ll never have to fight overweight again.

Create a program of regular exercise.

In order to stay healthy, you have to move your body. The body creates antioxidants that keep you younger and protect your cells. Activity stimulates blood flow and that brings nutrients and oxygen in the blood to every cell of the body. It makes you stronger, less prone to falls and gives you aerobic fitness, while keeping your heart healthy. In fact, weight bearing exercise is known to help fight osteoporosis better than many of the medications for it.

Create your road map to fitness by setting smaller achievable goals first. Maybe it’s just walking for a half hour until you can run, but it’s a start that’s achievable.

Make sure you include a good night’s sleep in your program. Not only is adequate sleep important to your heart health, it can also help you lose weight. Regular exercise helps you sleep better

If you smoke or drink too much, work on controlling and eliminating those habits. Often regular exercise can help.

As you reach your initial goals, set goals and steps to achieve them that are more and more difficult. Before you know it, you’ll be in shape and want to achieve even more.




When it comes to the holiday season, people often rethink their dieting and jump in with both feet at the buffet table. While you might think that’s the easiest way to gain weight, the good news is that you can still lose weight while enjoying many of the pleasures of food the holidays bring. In other words, it’s time to eat, train and be happy. Eating healthy isn’t dieting. Diets always end but eating healthy doesn’t. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t have any of your favorite foods. However, portion control of those foods is important.

Learning to make substitutions helps.

Do you love sour cream on your baked potato, but believe that you can’t even eat the potato, let alone have on slathered in sour cream. Think again. When you’re eating healthy, you’ll still be able to eat the baked potato, but instead of sour cream, save a few calories by using Greek yogurt. White rice has more calories than brown or wild rice, swap them out and still enjoy your meal. Many of the ideas only save a few calories, but all those saved ones add up!

Fill up on whole foods.

Whole foods are foods that are the least processed. Hang around the veggie plate and eat as much as you want. Have a fresh apple ready for a snack. It’s all good. You can’t have too many segments of fresh oranges or grapefruit. In fact, you’ll probably get full before you could do that. Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables as frequently as you want. While you’re at it, have plenty of water too.

Exercise is a great equalizer.

If you’ve worried about your metabolism being too slow for weight loss, rejoice! There’s a way to change that. When you exercise regularly, not only does it burn calories while you’re exercising, it also builds muscle tissue. Muscle tissue requires more calories to maintain than fat tissue does, so you’ll be burning more calories 24/7. When you train, you’ll be able to eat and still be happy with your weight.

While you may change how you eat, many people find there are still some favorite foods they love. You don’t have to give up everything when you learn to eat healthier. If you love junk food, you can still eat it, but not as frequently as you do now.

You’ll be amazed at how you’ll start loving your new way of eating. Many people say they lose cravings for their old way of eating after a short time.

Exercising on a regular basis can help eliminate stress. Often stress can cause people to eat, just as depression can. The foods consumed when under stress or depressed are often comfort or high calorie foods. When you work out it burns off the hormones created by stress and lifts your spirits.

Enjoy. Life is meant to be enjoyed. As you build up your fitness level, you’ll find you walk taller, feel better about yourself and feel good about yourself. Eat healthy, train and be happy.

Find A Health Magazine You Like

Find A Health Magazine You Like

%image_alt%Nobody knows everything about healthy living and even the most informed find ideas change regularly. While it’s always been known that regular exercise and healthy eating improves your health, the definition of what is healthy in the area of exercise or diet changes frequently. A health magazine will keep you abreast of all the latest discoveries and findings. Plus it will have a few extra bonuses that can help you on your quest to a healthier lifestyle.

You’ll find the latest breakthroughs and information on food.

Up until the last 25 to 30 years, doctors knew that eating healthy was important, but had no studies showing how certain fruits and vegetables could extend your longevity and keep you fitter longer. In fact, at one time, shortening—hydrogenated vegetable oil, was considered healthier alternative to use. It had a longer shelf life, thanks the to process used to create it and was far cheaper for companies to produce, plus it didn’t need refrigeration. Mass marketing by companies made homemakers feel it was the best for their families health. Today, we know the trans fats in the hydrogenated vegetable oil is horrible for health. New research is always coming up about changes in how we think of food and health magazines will carry the stories once they’re sure they’re legit.

You’ll find great new recipes.

Most health magazines offer a section devoted to healthy recipes. You’ll be amazed at how just trying one or two can expand your knowledge of healthy eating over time and extend your recipe base, even adding new family favorites to the list. You’re bound to find one or two that are so delicious, they’ll become your go-to dishes for family get-togethers.

You’ll get lots of ideas for new exercise techniques and ways to improve your fitness health.

Exercise plays an important role in your health. It stimulates the creation of adult stem cells and increases blood circulation. It helps flush out toxins, too. Besides those benefits, it also makes you stronger and can improve bone density. A good health exercise can give you alternatives to your regular workout to keep it interesting.

Health magazines can save you money. If you’re thinking of buying expensive supplements, premade diet meals or certain types of gym equipment, there are always reviews and money saving ideas so you won’t trim your budget while you trim your figure.

Reading health magazines each month keeps you more focused on your health.

Reading more can help you recognize some things you’re not doing or not doing right that can affect your overall health.

You’ll be inspired every time you read each new issue and that helps maintain your motivation.

Stuff The Turkey Not Yourself

Stuff The Turkey Not Yourself

%image_alt%When holidays come, you’re often not yourself. You either hate the holidays because you’re rushed and drown your exhaustion in foods to give you energy, such as pies and pastries or seek some comfort in the smooth creamy taste of mashed potatoes. Those that love the joy of Thanksgiving and all the upcoming holidays also love the feasting that takes place. It’s a conundrum for both types of people and even for those who enjoy the holiday, but don’t count the days until it arrives with dread or joy.

Start your day the right way.

You can get a jump start on your feelings by beginning the day right. Have a sensible breakfast planned and carve out time for exercise. The exercise helps you twice. It first burns some of the calories that you’ll be eating and keeps you on track. But most of all, it can alter your mood—in a good way.. It boosts the melancholy and eliminates stress. It puts you in a holiday mood that doesn’t necessarily need food to make it continue.

Plan a meal that is healthier and lower in calories.

Not everyone has the option of planning all the foods, but if you’re the one cooking you do. You can stick with family favorites and adjust the recipes to make them lower in calories and healthier. You can also changes in the menu that eliminate some of the foods entirely. Begin the meal with a low calorie soup as an option. Start early by trying new recipes until you have the perfect combination. Have lots of raw veggies and create your own dip that will make everyone rave, eating more veggies in the process, and still keep them healthy. Remember, you’ll never go wrong by loading up the veggie tray. Whatever you don’t eat can be the perfect cooked base for other meals. I like to always have raw veggies on hand and if they’re not moving fast enough, grab handfuls to steam for an alternative.

Fill up, not out.

Yup, munching and crunching raw foods can help, just as drinking water does. It fills you up and not out in the process. Make melon cups for snacks or sliced fruit with a yogurt dip. Filling yourself up before the meal can help you take smaller portions of higher calorie foods. A nutritious snack can also help you avoid nibbling on the higher calorie foods while waiting for dinner.

Talk to everyone during the meal. It helps you eat slower and give your brain a chance to catch up with the feeling of fullness.

Take small bites and eat slowly. Again, you’ll find you fill up before you finish your meal.

Watch portion control. Take smaller portions of all the foods. That way if you’re a plate cleaner, you wont’ feel guilty about leaving anything on your plate. Take another day to conquer the plate cleaning habit.

Appreciate everything you eat. Truly enjoy it. Savor its smell, the texture and how it looks on your plate. If you’ve taken smaller portions initially, it will enhance your eating experience, slow your eating and probably eliminate the need for seconds.

Treadmill Vs Sidewalk

Treadmill Vs Sidewalk

treadmill-vs-road-runningEvery week or so I get a question about the comparison, treadmill vs sidewalk when it comes to running. Both of these have advantages, so don’t sell your treadmill in a garage sale yet or go out and buy one either. Getting the best type of running shoes for each type of running is imperative and often people find training both ways is beneficial. If you’re training for a race, there’s nothing as beneficial as outside running, particularly if you live in an area with similar terrain.

When running on a treadmill inside, you don’t have the same wind resistance you have outside making it easier.

Of course inside you also have year around good weather, so it makes it a good option for those who live in colder climates where sometimes the winter snows can interfere with training. You can set the treadmill to overcome the wind resistance by increasing the grade 1%. Even hot days can play havoc with runners, especially unseasonably high temperatures. Unless you’re training for a marathon in very warm areas, working out for a few days inside can help.

You can preset and simulate a race course on some treadmills.

While you can create a race simulation by choosing a place that has similar terrain as your next race, you can do it with more precision when you run on a treadmill that allows you to preset the workout. Program in the change of incline into your treadmill, but if you don’t have that option, chart it and do it manually as you run.

Running outside is more invigorating and enjoyable.

I simply love the outside running. I enjoy the feeling of the breeze on my face and the sights that surround me as I run. I even get a better sense of community when I run through the streets of my city, because I pass many people I know who take the time to wave. There is nothing more pleasurable than running unfettered outside, it’s always interesting. Too often people take up running on a treadmill and quit quickly because they find it just plain boring. You won’t have that problem when running outside.

The surface area is always even on a treadmill. That can help prevent injury but doesn’t give you the same challenges as running outside.

If you’re faced with injuries, a treadmill can help you get back on track without putting as much pressure on the knees.

Seasonal allergies might force you to stay on a treadmill until the pollen clears the air. Don’t forget the incline button when you do.

Always choose the best type of running shoes for the conditions you face and your running styles. You’ll run better and be less prone to injury.

Are Running And Walking Equal?

Are Running And Walking Equal?

%image_alt%I’m often asked whether running and walking aren’t the same, but with more hustle in running. The truth is, I advocate both. Some people aren’t fit enough for running, but they can get that way by starting out walking. Some people don’t like to run. Even though I’ll never understand that because I love it so much, I respect their choices. ANY TYPE OF HEALTHY EXERCISING is important. My specialty is running and I know all the benefits, right ways and wrong ways to do it.

Running burns more calories than walking.

You may have already guessed that an hour of running burns far more calories than an hour of walking. You’re pushing your body more, so you’re burning approximately 800 calories in that hour, compared to 300 in the same amount of time walking. If you increase the amount of time you spend walking to equal those same 800 calories, the runner still lost more weight according to one study.

You may eat less when you run.

One study in the April 2012 Journal of Obesity showed that the hunger hormones were better under control with runners. This small study allowed the two groups, runners and walkers, to make their won selections at a buffet and measured the amount of food consumed. The runners ate fewer calories than they burned, while the walkers ate about 50 calories more than they burned with walking. It may have to do with the increased levels of peptide YY, a hormone that helps suppress the appetite.

There are dangers in running, but many of those dangers can be avoided with good coaching.

So many times I hear someone who knows someone that was injured running or a runner comes to me with injuries. I normally find that these people had no coaching and often started running without properly warming up or had improper form, the wrong type of shoes or other problems that can lead to injury. That’s where I come in. As a running coach, I help prevent some of the injuries associated with running and even work on things such as strength training for overall fitness. All of these factors are important not only for your best running time, but also a safe run.

One of the reasons I run and many other people run is because of love. There’s nothing more exhilarating than going at top speed and beating other opponents or my own best personal time.

Motivation is important in all exercise programs and running keeps me motivated. It has a measurable time and distance goal that I can challenge every time I run.

As noted earlier, both running and walking are good exercises and I would never discourage either. However, to be your best you have to insure you include strength and flexibility training too.

What you eat also plays a huge role in your every day health and running performance. I’ll show you how to eat healthier for not only a better performance but overall daily health too.

Need A Running Coach?

Need A Running Coach?

Need a Running Coach?

A running coach can be a huge benefit to all levels of runners. While many serious athletes and competitive runners often secure the services of a running coach, I’ve also had beginners request help. The beginners may not ever plan to enter a race, but they want my expertise for another reason, I can help make running safer. You might think, “Hey, I’ve been running all my life and haven’t injured myself yet.” That may be true, but you haven’t had a program of consistent running. One study shows that the rate of injury among runners could be as high as 80 percent. An injury can set your program back for months.

You’ll get more than just training tips, you’ll get motivation and lots of support from me.

While training aid is important and knowledge is king, sometimes you just need an “attaboy.” I won’t give them unless you’ve earned them, but I do recognize that winning a race isn’t everything. That’s right. Sometimes you win even if you don’t come in first. Winning in running is about overcoming problems and beating your own personal best. When you train hard and achieve a milestone, I’ll be there to let you know it’s a great occasion.

Coaches have a lot to offer those preparing for races.

Some of the simplest things can affect your performance. Knowing when you get new shoes, for example, isn’t necessarily intuitive, but it can affect your performance. Knowing when to beef up your training and when to rest so your muscles recoup is another area where many beginners fail. Pacing yourself, technique and form are all areas where I can help people prepare for racing.

You have the coaches experience and knowledge to help you get back into training after an injury.

Running coaches know when you’re ready to train again if you’ve been on the sidelines with an injury. Some runners go back to training too quickly, with disastrous results. Others take too much time away from training, fearing the worse. A coach can help you ease back into training with less potential for reinjury.

Getting ready for a race or to improve your performance is more than just running endlessly. I’ll help you with your form and mental preparation that’s so important for any race.

Knowing the right types of foods to eat for improved performance, especially right before a race is important. I keep abreast of the latest research to insure your nutritional needs are met.

You’ll be held accountable for your training when you work with a coach. I also create a training plan that will push you beyond your comfort zone.

You’ll learn technique with the help of a coach. As a coach, I can help you learn when and how to pace yourself. I also design workout plans that builds weaker muscle groups.

Running Vs Breast Size

Running Vs Breast Size

Running vs Breast Size

Whether you’re worried about losing a cup size or whether you’ll gain maximum speed during a race because of large breasts, there are a lot of running vs breast size debates going on today. Many of the articles you find online come from women who haven’t begun to run, but are concerned that their feminine curves will disappear and they’ll go from a womanly C cup to a training bra. Others want to enter competitive running, but find that large breasts make casual running a bit more difficult. I have input that might help you with both concerns.

Where did your breasts go?

Running helps you shed fat by burning extra calories. It builds muscle tissue that also boosts your metabolism to burn extra calories. If you’re overweight, all parts of your body lose fat. Since the breasts are composed of fat and epithelial tissue and fatty tissue, losing weight means losing some of the fatty tissue, ultimately making your breasts smaller.

Don’t let that scare you.

Yes, I did just say your breasts will be smaller, but it’s all relative. You’ll also lose fat underneath the breasts, around your waist and hips, so you’ll still have the same proportions. A narrow measure around the rib cage makes breasts look larger. You’ll also maintain all the epithelial tissue that helps give you the curvy appearance. While your breasts may be smaller, the rest of your body will shrink too! They may even look larger in comparison to the now thinner, sleeker body.

Let’s tackle the problem of runners with large breasts.

Large breasts can make running more difficult. Not only do they bounce when you run, which can be extremely painful, they also change your postures. If you wear a D-cup you could have 15 to 23 pounds pulling you forward and creating an awkward hunched running position. That makes you ripe for injury while also making it more difficult to have an efficient stride. No matter what type of bra you buy, the straps take the pressure. They can press on your nerves and still not take the bounce out of your breasts or help your posture. Doing back exercises for the upper and lower back can help with your posture.

The more bounce you experience when running, the more your breasts lose their elasticity and bounce even more!

Keeping bounce to a minimum for large breasted runners is extremely important for a comfortable run. Finding a good bra that can minimize bounce and have your breasts move in unison with the body is as important as finding the right shoes.

Look for bras that provide support and comfort. Thin straps can gouge and cause pain and sweat wicking materials can reduce chafing.

No matter what your breast size, running is actually good for the breasts when wearing the right clothing. Any aerobic exercise when done four hours or more a week can help prevent breast cancer.