Weekly Rundown

A good week! After Friday and Saturday I was ready for some serious napping. Mother Nature obliged me (I know, no one was more surprised than I) on Sunday by giving us a delightfully rainy day.

Monday: I had to run to town first thing in the morning, which, frankly, rather disrupts my day. I spent the day  after I got home doing my classwork and chores. I rode Charby in afternoon, which is my usual practice, but then I did yoga afterwards. I generally do my run or yoga in the morning and ride in the afternoon. The change felt good, especially since the yoga was the Candlelight Yoga. No stress on the muscles after riding Charby bareback 🙂

Tuesday: Another rainy day. Thanks to my mom giving me that treadmill, I still get to run. On the other hand, I don’t like running endlessly on the treadmill, I have discovered. But there are ways around everything 😉 I did 10 minute running bursts, increasing my speed each time I got back on. In between the bursts I did 5 burpees. Ok, that doesn’t sound like much. But I found a new burpee: using a 5lb weight in each hand, we squat, pop back into plank, push-up and then back row with each arm.  Pop back up (ok, stand up at your own pace, I did), rising from the squat into an overhead press. Then do it again. I watched America Ninja Warrior while doing this exercise routine. Very effective: watching them swing through the course made me feel like the least I could do is another burpee.

Wednesday: So, yes, the burpees were effective. I ran 4.56 miles and was in agony every step. Not my legs. Not my abdomen. Not even my breathing. Nope, it was the forward swing of my arms causing me dismay. It hit me about a mile into the run, and I truly gutted it out. Because I wanted to turn around with every step until I hit the half-way point and did turn around.  My plan this week is to do the long run, and then the burpees.

Thursday: I decided to take Thursday off since I hadn’t done that yet this week. So I weedwacked a good-sized area (that hurt the next day too), checked on my vegetable garden and then went out to break a trail so Mom and I could make a loop around the back field instead of just riding out and back. Christopher Robin really doesn’t like to go back: we’ve seen it already, you know. That was an hour and half of panting and swiping at flies. After resting, I took Charby out in the ring for 35 minutes. She is such a good girl that it was very relaxing.

Friday: I had to take my car to my mechanic’s, so I took it down in the morning and ran the 1.85 miles home. As I have said before, the first mile kinda sucks for me. It sucks more that the first three-quarters of the run home are uphill; usually when I run that route, I have already run at least 3 miles and am warmed up. And, of course, I had to run  back down (but it was down!) to get my car in the afternoon. In the middle I attacked the trail again. I wanted to be able to see where the horses were putting their feet as it is lumpy out in the field, with huge tire tracks from the last time it was logged. So I took the weedwacker out there and cut a swath through the field. After coming home from getting the car, Christopher and I went and did 20 minutes of ground work. The little brat tried to herd me while we were walking! However, I have had bigger horses than him try that, so I just laughed at him. The next thing was a hop-skip-jump that got all his feet off the ground. Everytime he tried to misbehave, I just circled him and kept going in the direction I wanted to go in. Eventually he caught on!

Saturday: I ran 3.75 miles first thing before my mom came up and we attempted the trail. Definitely needs more work, but the horses were awesome and just plowed right through.  They both like trail riding, so they were very cooperative to get out there and see something new. My hubby came home from work, and since it was supposed to rain the next day, we went out and did about an hour of land clearing. I have to say the weight lifting and strengthening yoga is working: I was handling larger pieces of brush with ease 🙂

Sunday: nap day….only I never napped. But I did watch A LOT of tv!

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Saturday Tip & Trick

Tip # 13: Take a day off! Muscles need a break, and so do you. You should be taking at least one day out of seven off, if not two. If you are exercising for the exercise and not for a specific event, you have plenty of time to get in shape!  Feel free to rotate which day you take off.  If you had a exercise day planned, but you are just not up to it, take the day off without guilt–as long as you didn’t do that for the last three days running 😉

And Some Milestones……

This is my 100th post. Shall we celebrate?

 

And another waypoint: I finally hit the 500 mile marker and my shoes were feeling it. I had noticed that I was feeling stones more through my toe area. But it was when I got on the treadmill that I knew. I do a mid-foot strike when I run, and immediately noticed the lack of padding.

Some sneakers last 150-300 miles, some 500ish. I really don’t know what category mine fell into. When I bought them last year, it wasn’t something I looked at.  Last year I was looking at fit and price. The year before that I knew even less! Of course, as I learn more, the cost of the shoes goes up. But so does my running ability.

This year I expanded my research. First, am I showing my naivety by calling them sneakers? The technical term is, of course, running shoes. In actuality, my running shoes are my running shoes. I don’t do anything else in them, not even walk Daisy. The previous running shoes become the walking sneakers.

So the first thing I did was research. Mizuno, Hoka, New Balance. I am not a brand junkie. If it fits and works, I am happy. My last issue of Fitness had a wonderful article on running shoes. I have been running long enough now that I know what I need, but not always how to translate that to my shoes. So many dang terms! Zero drop, overpronation,  stability, toe box, the list goes on. What does it all mean?

Zero drop means exactly what it says–no height difference between the heel and toe. Most sneakers have a 6mm to 8mm difference with the heel being higher. There has been quite a bit of discussion about whether a zero drop is important or not. It does make you run differently, more like running barefoot with different stressors on feet and leg muscles.

Proponents suggest zero-drop shoes are a safer and more practical way to emulate barefoot-style running. Still, medical experts and running form gurus recommend runners take time to transition to shoes with lower ramp angles than what they’ve been running in, and Harper and Beckstead agree. Even if you’ve been running and racing for years, if you don’t conscientiously work on form and strength along with minimalist running, you could wind up with sore calf muscles, strained Achilles tendons, aching feet or more serious injuries, Dicharry says. Other factors, including a runner’s weight, body composition, past injury patterns, level of fitness and running goals should be considered before making a drastic change in footwear styles*

I did consider zero drop shoes. However, I have high arches and, frankly, running barefoot is not very comfortable for me. I know a lot of runners do run races barefoot and do very well. But they have been running that way for years. I think at this point in my life, barefoot would be hard for me to get used too. No zero drop for me.

Pronation, under or over, is running with your foot rolling towards the outside. This is where stability comes in.

[stability is important for] runners who experience mild to moderate overpronation. This means that they have moderately low arches. Overpronation can cause a lot of strain on the feet since the impact is distributed heavily across the area that pronates. When the foot pushes off from the surface, the ankle and lower leg all experience strain. This situation can even lead to various running injuries. **

Most running shoes are considered either neutral or stable. While individual brands rate their shoes somewhat differently, there are some correlations across the board. The neutral shoes add no additional stability, allowing the foot to fall into its natural placement. There may be a couple of levels of neutral shoes within a brand. Then they move up to the stability shoes, which have several different  stability features built into the shoe to prevent overpronation.  Generally speaking, there are several different levels of stability features within brands as well.

When you think about a running shoe, think about how you feel on a long run–whatever that may be for you. I have wide feet with moderately high arches. If the toe box is too narrow, my toes tend to fall asleep around mile 4.  Because of my mid-foot strike when running, metatarsal cushioning is more important (and harder to find) than heel cushioning to me.

The next step is to find a store with knowledgable staff. I am going to give props here to Dick’s Sporting Goods. I went to my local store; more just to look, having been advised to try a store in Brunswick but not having time to get there yet. When I got to Dick’s I had the good fortune to find a salesperson who knew his running shoes inside and out. I told him what my running needs were and he helped me try on a dozen shoes (like jeans, be prepared to try on many pairs).

It came down to two pairs of Brooks. Dick’s has an excellent return policy: 30 days to return, even if you ran in them every day before deciding they didn’t work. So I took one of them home. They were a narrow fit, but they were comfortable. Until my feet swelled the next day when I was running on the treadmill.  Back I went and picked up the other pair. They are light and lovely to run in. My toes feel much better after mile 4 🙂 So what did I end up with? Brooks Glycerin 12, neutral. And I am ready for the next 500 miles.

 

*runnersworld

**runningshoeswizard

 

Weekly Rundown

A week of drills. After my week of long runs, I though it would be good to offset  with drills and core work. It might have been a good idea, but boy, my legs are a little sore. And my arms. And my fingers. But that last is more because I am addicted to a computer word game that takes up all my spare time.

Monday: I thought I would take Monday off. I had a job interview (still in process, so keep those fingers crossed) in the morning and then I went to hang out with my friend Amanda. She thought it would be fun to walk to our local Barnes & Noble. A few side trips and four miles later we made it back to her apartment. So I am not really sure that I took Monday off. While we did amble around the store as part of those miles, we also had some really good hills as part of those miles. Most important part was the fun we had 🙂

Tuesday: Candlight Yoga with Sara Ivanhoe. I really can’t overstate how relaxed and stretched out I feel after this routine. In the afternoon I tok Charby out to the ring and spent 30 minutes playing with her.

Wednesday: Early morning flat drills. Argh!! There may have been walking in between the drills….. Let’s just say there was sweat and aches when I was done and leave it at that.  It was Cristopher Robin’s day to be played with, so in the afternoon I went to see him. I had decided that he needed more ground work rather than more riding. He is an amiable, sweet boy but a stubborn streak a mile wide. He sometimes decides that perhaps I am not really in charge. Groundwork with a horse can build a bond, as well as trust and deciding who should be in charge. It can be a labor intensive effort, and it is extremely important to remain calm and never get angry. I did this with Charby when I first got her. In fact, I did ground work for 2 months before I ever got on her. She had a bit of a reputation for bucking and and being uncontrollable. And of course she has turned out to be the sweetest baby girl. The first person to get on her besides me was my 4 year old nephew, and she was good as gold as I led them around. So Christopher and I spent 30 minutes bonding…one hopes!

Thursday: I started off with 20 minutes of ab strengthening yoga, followed by 10 minutes of lovely stretches. In the afternoon it was Charby’s turn again. Instead of heading out to the ring, I took her out on the road. I can’t go too far, Christopher Robin freaks out if he can’t see her. I am afraid that in his stubborness he might go through the fence to look for us. That would be bad for the fence, and could be very bad for him if he got tangled. So we went out back in the woods a bit, then up the road and back, making circles and doing some trotting. I had the bareback pad on her, so I was practicing posting without stirrups while I was making her practice trotting down hill. I am sure it wasn’t pretty, but it was good for both of us.

Friday: Early morning hill drills. After my first butt kick drill, I literally stopped in the road and debated whether I should walk back to the house. I knew how guilty and mad at myself I would feel later, so I started up again. I did shorten my run between the drills, and didn’t do the plank at the top of the drill either. But I made it through, and there is a deep satisfaction in that. My mom came up again and we had a nice riding day. From grabbing the beasties to putting them away it takes about an hour and a half. Good quality time with Mom and the horses.

Saturday: off. No excuses either! I did do some garden work with my vegtables–my potatoes look great! But something killed all my summer squash 😦 And I did some weedwacking around the house, the vegetation was starting to take over. In the afternoon I went to my friend Jen’s house for her annual Porch Party. I think we just show up for the food. She likes to cook and feed people. We are very happy to let her do that for us. So yummy. I don’t even like ribs and I ate hers. She has just started a blog about her cooking and food, check it out: Apron not needed right here on WordPress.

Sunday: it was a lovely rainy day, the kind where you hear Mother Nature saying: stay inside, watch movies, nap all day. At least, that was what I heard! I did manage to motivate myself to do 27 minutes of arm and core weight training. Then I watched tv. And helped my hubby work on his latest project: a 1974 Case 646 tractor. It did not run when we got it. Took him about a week to get it to turn over. Then it wouldn’t move. These particular tractors are hydraulic based–if the hydraulics don’t work, nothing moves, including the wheels. So that took him another week, but by the end of yesterday he was driving it up and down the driveway. There really isn’t anything mechanical he can’t fix 🙂

 

Back to Basics, part B

Last week I did a post about form. But of course there is so much more to form. Today I am going to tackle another basic: breathing. It is very hard to get anywhere without being able to breathe evenly. So, how do we get there?

We can all pant. That is never an issue. But when you pant, you are breathing shallowly, which means not as much air gets into your lungs; and quickly, which means what air does hit your lungs doesn’t stay there long enough.

Before running, try this exercise: “lie down on the floor, placing a hand on your belly and breathing deeply. If you feel your hand rise and fall slightly with your breathing, you are belly breathing. If your chest moves up and down rather than your belly, you are not breathing deep enough. Focus on your hand and try making it rise and fall.”**

A good way to see if you are breathing appropriately is the CDC suggestion “that if you can comfortably talk during your running workouts, but not sing, you’re performing at a moderate intensity, which is often appropriate for longer endurance runs. If you can’t say more than a few words without pausing to breathe, your running intensity is vigorous, the CDC notes, which is appropriate if you’re running at a rapid pace for shorter periods of time”*

While this is a great way to see if you are breathing too quickly, what do you do if you are? Everyone needs to find their own way, but I can make suggestions you can try to find your own way. I use my yoga breathing. Being a bit of a geek, I love that Sara Ivanhoe compared the proper way to breathe for yoga to breathing like Darth Vader, deep in the back of your throat so it echoes a bit. Now, I don’t practice my Darth Vader impression as I run down the road. But I do try to inhale deeply, pause, and then let it back out. That does not work all the time, and I can tell when I have not been doing it. I try to take that deep breath for every two to three shallow breathes I take.

Another way to try a ratio is matching your breath to your strides. Many successful runners “prefer a 2:1 stride/breath ratio, according to a review published in 2013 in PLOS One. More specifically, authors of this review note that many runners prefer to take two running steps for each breath they take during workouts.“* This ratio doesn’t work for everyone, so play with it to see if you prefer a 2:2, or a 2:3 ratio more. Focusing on your breath will help you keep it even.

Breathing properly can also help prevent side stictches.Many side pains come from your incomplete breathing. When you expand your lungs, you also engage your diaphram. Your diaphram is a muscle that moves with your lungs during breathing. When you increase your breathing dramatically, your diaphram may spasm, resulting in a side stitch. If you breathe evenly, and keep your posture upright so your lungs  can fully expand, these spasms are less likely.

If nothing seems to help, especially if breathing becomes difficult, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor.  “Asthma or exercise-induced asthma and allergies are very common, so when you feel you can’t catch your breath, if you cannot inhale or exhale productively, if you experience any wheezing, or other symptoms that are uncomfortable or concern you, please check with your doctor.”**

Whatever method you choose, remember it won’t happen over-night. Just stick with it!

 

 

*fitday.com

**runnersworld

Weekly Rundown

It was a marvelous week.  I have been running 10-12 mile weeks and this week I made 18 miles. Yea!

Monday: the week started off the same as last week–Rainy. Looking at the rest of the week’s plan, I decided it would be a good day to take off. But then the sun came out around 4:00. I decided to go play with Christopher Robin, and did some groundwork with him. He was such a good boy (I will try to remember this later in the week). After I fed the horses, I went out into the garden and cleaned leaves for an hour. I really should be done with this by now, but I have been lazy since my first spree of cleaning.

Tuesday: in the spirit of getting my upper body ready for the Urban Raid, I found a new yoga routine for my arms and core. It was about 5 moves, and they definitely added some strength training, but I added a few more moves to make the practice last 20 minutes.  In the afternoon I took Charby out to the riding ring and made her do circles and trots for half an hour. She is a darling horse, and so patiently did whatever I asked of her 🙂

Wednesday: went out for my first 5.5 mile run of the week. It actually felt really good, and I totally enjoyed it. My friend Kate came over and we did a little walking before sitting and chatting the rest of the day. We went out in the afternoon and she stayed while I brushed Christopher Robin. Then he and I went out to work. Kinda! I decided to lunge him on a line so I could put him over some jumps. The idea was to get him in shape without my weight on him. He, the pesty little boy, did everything possible to avoid the jumps. It was fairly amusing, and at least he got a lot of exercise–although I doubt that was his intention.

Thursday: After all the work I had done to my body so far, I thought it would be a good thing to do some stretching. I searched until I found a Candlelight Yoga by Sara Ivanhoe that I could watch instantly rather than waiting for a DVD to be shipped to me. 39 minutes of relaxful stretching. AHHHHH…..

Friday: another 5.5 run 🙂 I ran the same path as Wednesday. I was a little tired from the week, and my legs were tired. My miles were a bit slower, but the run still satisfying. It was Charby’s turn to be put to work, and I have to say she is so relaxing after Mr. Chris. Once upon a time, she was the one I had to work and work to get the results I wanted. Now she just placidly does whatever is asked of her. Gives me hope for the handsome boy!

Saturday: My mom was going to come up today to ride, as Friday had not worked this week for her. I got on the treadmill early so I would be ready when she arrived. I did a new workout:

run 10 minutes @ 2.7mph, 10 (girl) push-ups, run 10 minutes @ 3.2mph, 20 squats, run 10 minutes @ 3.5mph, 5 burpees.

That worked out pretty well, and I will continue it with more and more push-ups, squats, etc in between the running intervals. Unfortunately my mom couldn’t come, so I put off my ride until the afternoon when it was cooler. I decided to take Christopher out on the road, since he likes the trail rides so much. He was hurrying down the road when he suddenly decided to put on the brakes and go no further. Don’t ask, I have no idea. We did some circles, some discussing, some more circles, some backing into a ditch (that gave him pause for a minute), and ultimately I had to get off and lead him to where I wanted him to go. Then we had to find a stump because of course I was using the bareback pad and needed help hopping back on. We headed back towards the house after I got on, and went right past the driveway. We had almost made it to the top of the hill when  a motorcycle went by and that spooked the heck out of him. We had to have another discussion on whether we were going to continue as that was the way the scary motorcycle went. Eventually he agreed he would go and I considered that progress as I was still on top of him 🙂

Sunday: my final 5.3 mile run of the week. Feeling positive about my running abilities, I ran the loop with the large Blinn hill at the far end. I am definitely a long distance runner. My first 2 miles were awful. But by the time I had turned the corner at 2.5 miles, I was feeling much better. By the time I conquered the hill, I was feeling like I could keep going–just like that pink bunny. Not that the hill was easy. But as I ran up the three slopes that make up the hill, I remembered when I started running. I couldn’t even make it up the one slope without stopping. Now I can run over 4 miles and then run the whole hill….and beyond.

Back to Basics: part A

A day late but here we are. I need to stop writing on the day of my post, so when the unexpected happens, I don’t have to worry about the time to write. I’m sure I will get to that–it’s not like I am a die-hard procrastinator or anything. 🙂

I was thinking about this post as I ran Wednesday. I am increasing the length of my base run and I have plenty of time to think about, well, everything. I jumped from making my “long” run 2-3 miles up to 5.5 miles. Now, most runners suggest only increasing your mileage 20% each week. So, don’t do what I did.

But it is the why I was able to do it without any real ramifications to my body that I was thinking about. And it comes back to form. By running properly, I can lessen the chances of hurting myself.  So, what muscles do you need for good form?  ALL of them.

Those of you who have been following me know that I added drills to my exercise routine about a month or so ago. It wasn’t just to put myself through more pain. Not a masochist! Even if it felt like I was the first couple times I ran the drills.

But I knew I was going to want to run faster and longer, and in order to do that I had to strengthen myself. Today as I hit the end of my 4th mile–and a rather large hill–my calves came to my rescue. The cakewalks and bounding drills I had been doing kicked in and I used my calves to “bound” up the hill, which gave my thighs a bit of a rest.

Anytime I feel tense or uncomfortable while running, I check my form. It is amazing how often my shoulders sneak up towards my ears.

“Keep your posture straight and erect. Your head should be up, your back straight, and shoulders level. Keep your shoulders under your ears and maintain a neutral pelvis. Make sure you’re not leaning forward or back at your waist, which some runners do as they get fatigued. Check your posture once in a while. When you’re tired at the end of your run, it’s common to slump over a little, which can lead to neck, shoulder, and lower-back pain. When you feel yourself slouching, poke your chest out.” *

 

To keep my form easy and loose I need a strong back and core to keep me upright so my lungs have room to expand. My shoulders and arms need to be able to swing easily without strain. And not pulled up in “chicken wings”:

“When fatigued, our arm carriage changes and our body position often resembles the wings of a chicken—pulled up and close to the body. Our shoulders rise closer to our ears, as if we are shrugging and maintaining that shrug. Like a chicken, we can’t fly very well with our arms held tightly to the sides of our bodies. The result is a shorter arm swing and, consequently, a shorter stride. By taking more strides, we use more energy to cover the race distance.”**

           Because, really, who wants to look like a chicken?

When you run, think about your form frequently. What do you have to fix most often? What hurts the most?

When I was “bounding” up the hill, my legs were actually moving faster than my lungs could suck in air and provide oxygen to my muscles. I need to work on my lung capacity. My shoulder muscles over my scapulae used to hurt during the long runs. I added weight exercises to target that area and my arm swing is much more relaxed now. By working on our form, we can find the spots that need fixing and work specifically on them. And make the run so much better!

 

*running.about.com

**www.active.com

 

Weekly Rundown

Another week and another rundown 🙂 The week didn’t start out very nicely, courtesy of Mother Nature. Three days of rain starting on Sunday. Fortunately the rest of the week was mostly warm and slightly cloudy. The sun came out for the weekend, which just goes to show that Mother Nature can be sweet when she wants to.

Monday: a blah day at best. Continuous rain, I had to tip some of my deck planters on their side as they were puddled with water. Since I clearly wasn’t going to get outside, I pulled out the treadmill.  25 mins was pretty good for me, even watching tv I get bored pretty quickly. I did keep increasing the speed so by the time I got off I was breathing rather heavily.  I have looked up some treadmill drills, which I hope will inspire me to go longer and make my next report happier.

Tuesday: more rain! Such a lousy day, I just took it off.

Wednesday: went for a walk with my friend Kate again. We ambled around our local arboretum, where the lilacs were in full bloom. The shaded path through the woods was lined with dozens of hosta–one of my favorite plants. It was a little windy, but the sun played with us through the clouds and it was a marvelous walk.  After I got home my farrier called and said he would be able come out and trim Charby’s feet. So I pulled her in from the field and she got a spa day. I brushed her until she shined and combed out her mane and most of her tail before the farrier got there. She looked all pretty and happy after he left. She is a girly girl and a day at the spa makes her very content.  🙂

Thursday: finally, a run day!! Just a 2.6 mile  run down the road, but I got a PR for my first mile on that particular mile, which I thought was pretty cool. I realized as I was running up the first hill that I was trucking right along, so instead of relaxing when I got to the top I kept going as fast as I could. When I got to the end of mile one I slowed down, but not as much I thought, it was only 20 seconds slower than my first mile. I was happy I was able to keep going that fast (not that it was really terribly fast) a pace after my first mile. My legs feel like they can go forever, it’s the lungs and cramps and upper body I have to worry about. Time for more core and arm work. And since I was so chuffed that I ran so well, I went back and did an arm and core workout. I did push ups from my balance ball, and it was actually easier than regular push ups. Who knew? I do feel the need to point out that I was doing them with the ball at my knees, so it was rather like doing “girly” push ups.

Friday: Another run! 2.8 miles down the hill. Well, up the 80% hill route, then down the hill until I met Mom driving up. My average mile seems to be getting faster. It is still not fast compared to others I know, but it is faster my runs last year and earlier this year. And improving on ourselves is all we can ask for. There will always be someone faster, so the only person I am competing against is myself. Glad to see I am winning 😉  Mom and I went for our ride, for a change of venue we went up to our neighbors’ and trotted around their back fields. Christopher Robin is still testing his boundaries. He was a rather pesty boy: he only likes to go forward. Doesn’t matter which way that is, but when I ask him to turn around he fights me every time. Which does give Mom and Charby time to catch up. And keeps my ride interesting. Although when he fights me on the road I get nervous, going in circles when a car comes flying around a curve is not my idea of a good time. But he is going to make me a better rider, and he will fall in line. For a horse that hasn’t been used for years, he is actually doing very well. His personality is sweet and loving, so I know these are just hiccups along the way.

Saturday: as much as I wanted to run, I made myself do yoga instead. I have been so focused on running that I have been ignoring my yoga. The problem with that being that I haven’t been stretching, so my body is getting tighter and tighter and I also haven’t had the mental release of the yoga. I do love the release from running as well, but it isn’t quite the same. So yoga (39 minutes) in the morning: and it did feel rather nice. And a ride in the afternoon on Charby. We didn’t get too much work done, she was feeling pokey. The young girls from my neighbors’ came down to gawk at the horses and ask questions about what I was doing, so I spent most of my half hour talking to them. It was a good time just playing with the horses.

Sunday: My husband had been asked to take his smoker over to a graduation party and smoke pork and sausage. We had to get there fairly early, so I definitely wasn’t getting a run in first. I am dedicated, but apparently not enough to run at 5:30 in the morning–yet! But I did run after we got all set up at the camp. It was about a 3.6 mile run, and it was a lovely area to run in. Shaded dirt roads, and pretty houses with wonderful flowers. Sitting at the lake watching the smoker smoke and enjoying the breeze was a rather fabulous way to spend the day.

Need motivation?

Watch this!      And what about this

  or   ?

The new season of American Ninja Warrior is here! I love this show. These people are fantastic athletes. They work their full-time jobs, and then train wherever they can. They make their own ANW courses out of whatever they have on hand.

Some have full courses built in their backyard. Some use trees and park benches, or whatever else they can find  to jump and flip over or climb. They are firefighters, graphic designers, farmers, construction workers, ex-military and even the CEO of Clif bars this year. Some are college age, and some are in their 50s or 60s.

The one thing they all have in common is dedication. For anyone who thinks this is a game show, it is not. The only ones who make it through are the ones with serious focus. The ones who go out early often train harder and come back the following year. No one has yet conquered the final course and won the title–or the million dollars.  Right now ANW is moving from city to city for qualifying rounds–the final course is always in Las Vegas.

My favorite contestant in the qualifying so far this year is an autistic 21-year-old. He saw this show when he was 13 and it became his dream to be on the show. His dream took him out of his solitude and into the world. He trained in gyms, interacting with his trainers and other gym mates. Anyone who knows about Autism knows that interacting with others is one of the hardest things sufferers can do. And he went on national tv in front of a chaotic live audience and did his best. He didn’t finish the course, but I bet we will see him again.

I have always liked climbing and obstacle courses. When I saw this show for the first time, I was amazed. The obstacles these athletes conquer! And the ease with which some of them do it. I don’t look at them and say “well, I can never do that!” I look at them and say “if they can do that, what can I do?” I push harder after watching an episode. Last week a man smacked his knee into a mat edge as he landed. He made it 2 more obstacles before the pain made him fall. Turns out he fractured his knee. The determination and bravery the athletes show make me realize what can be done if you only want it bad enough.

I may only want to run a minute faster per mile. Or run 10 miles. Or finish my Urban Raid. I don’t ever expect or even want to be on ANW. But these people, these athletes who use this show to enrich their lives, also enrich our lives. We can look at them and realize the potential we have. Whatever our goals are, to run faster, to walk a bit further, to get off that couch and MOVE; this show can inspire us to do it.

Get Inspired at ANW!