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Run To Lose

(Tips for weight loss)

If you're trying to lose weight and you have decided to include running or walking as part of your plan, you've made a wise choice.

Running and walking are not only convenient (because you can do them almost anywhere), and inexpensive (because you need only minimal equipment and there are no gym fees or club dues to pay), but they are also highly effective (because you can burn hundreds of calories per hour and can easily track your progress).

Although faster runners will burn more, the average person burns approximately 100 calories per mile when walking briskly or running at a slow pace. The more proficient you become, the more calories you will burn because you are be able to cover more distance in less time.

And running and walking are often literally first steps to a fitter, happier, and healthier lifestyle. The more often you run or walk, the more your body will crave the nutrients it needs. As a result, you may notice a decrease in your desire for unhealthy food choices.

Use the 100 calorie standard to help you lose weight.

You burn approximately 100 calories per mile with a brisk walk or slow paced run.

For every 3500 calories you consume, you gain a pound of weight. For every 3500 calories you burn, you lose a pound.

Most people are surprised to learn they have to run or walk 35 miles just to burn off one pound of fat. But what many don't realize is how easy it is to see significant weight loss over time. It takes only 2.5 miles of running or walking each day to lose 26 pounds a year. That amount may not seem like a lot when compared to radical diet plans, but you are much less likely to regain the weight you lose from running or walking than that lost from dieting. And most people didn't gain their excess weight at a rate of 26 pounds per year.

Here's one more thing to consider…how many people you know who have lost weight from a restricted calorie diet and have been able to keep that weight off for more than a year after ending their diet?

How Much Sleep?

Sleep is a crucial part of your training because it is while you’re asleep that your body repairs and rebuilds itself. Without enough sleep, you’ll feel mentally fatigued and that can make even your easiest runs or walks seem more difficult.

Sleep-deprivation will also make you more susceptible to illness. And it's tough to maintain training when you're sick.

So how much sleep do runners (and walkers) really need? Of course, sleep needs vary from runner to runner. The average person needs seven to eight hours each night. But if you’re training for an endurance event like a marathon, you should be getting even more rest. In that case eight hours a night should be your absolute minimum.

If you have trouble falling asleep, try changing your running or walking time to see if it helps. For some, running in the evening keeps them up. For others, it's like taking a sleeping pill.

But if you toss and turn after completing difficult workouts, your body may be trying to tell you something. Sleeplessness is one of the signs of overtraining.

Recipe For Success

To ensure success when making a dish you've never made before, it's always a good idea to follow the recipe.

Imagine you were making a cake and the recipe called for 2 eggs, but because you really like eggs, you decided to use 6 instead. Then you decided to completely eliminate a few of the other ingredients you really don't like. You wouldn't expect that cake to turn out the way it should.

The same is true for a good training program. I use this training philosophy with many of the competitive runners and walkers I coach.

For athletes training for a marathon, I recommend a variety of runs including hill repeats, tempo training, long slow distance, and possibly even some speedwork.

You wouldn't put the icing on a cake before baking it. In the same way, there is a proper order for all training runs. For example, I never schedule a pace-oriented workout the day after a long run. But a long run can be done the day after a short race.

If all the ingredients are added together in their proper amounts and in the proper order, everything will come together on raceday.

So you can have your cake, and eat it too!

"Work vs. Play"

Most runners would like to be able to run faster. And nearly all runners believe speedwork is the fastest way to faster times. But for many, the term conjures up images of exhaustive track workouts. And the fact it's referred to as speed'work' makes it seem that much harder.

You don't have to do countless loops on the track or become a slave to your stopwatch to get faster.

In fact, speed training doesn't have to be 'work' at all…

Instead, add a little fun and variety using a effective technique with a ridiculous name.

"Fartlek" is a Swedish word meaning 'speed play'.

And unlike regimented speedwork, "fartlek" training is a less structured format in which you run (or walk) faster for as long (or short) as you like. It can be from telephone pole to telephone pole, between traffic lights, or only on the uphills. The key is to combine faster efforts with slower recovery segments.

Fartlek training can be done over your regular running routes alone or with a training partner. And it's fun to see the reaction you get when you tell someone, "you're going out to fartlek."

Hot weather running tips -

The audio clip above is from a radio interview featuring hot weather running and walking tips.

Beat The Heat

(Tips for running in hot weather)

If you're ramping up your training for a fall marathon, half marathon, or other event, logging the necessary miles can be difficult in Summer heat.

Start your run or walk earlier in the day. Just after sunrise is usually the coolest time of day. But be warned, it can also be the most humid.

Hydrate properly. Always drink 8 to 16 oz. of water or sports drink before you head out. Wear a hydration pack or make multiple short loops so you can take in fluids regularly - especially for longer runs.

Wear technical fabrics; avoiding cotton, and a visor instead of a hat, which will build up and store heat.

If you have access to a pool, try deep-water running for some your training.

If you usually run-only, consider throwing in some brief walk breaks to allow your system to cool down slightly.

And finally, back off your pace - especially speed training. Your pace should slow by 20 to 30 seconds per mile for each 5-degree increase in temperature over 60 degrees F.

"In this section I have posted text from articles covering a variety of topics. This section will be updated regularly, so please check back. I hope you find this advice and information helpful.”

Mark Sullivan

You can reach me by e-mail here:


Click to listen
to Mark’s tips
for the weekly
radio program
Max Potential.

Advice, Tips, Information...

Most of the articles below are taken from the texts of Mark’s weekly radio segment entitled “Tip For The Road”.  

Here you will find advice, training tips and a wide range of other useful information to help improve your running.

How to Run a 5K -

In the audio clip above, Mark Sullivan explains how to train for and run your first 5K. Mark also discusses proper warm-up and pacing, and provides other useful tips.

Add a Warm-Up -

Whether you run or walk, a proper warm-up should be part of your workout routine. Because, a failure to thoroughly warm up before exerting yourself can result in an injury which can lead to a long-term lay off.

Generally speaking, the faster you plan to go, the more important your warm-up is. So, a runner preparing for a speed workout, will require a more extensive warm-up than a walker heading out for a leisurely stroll.

Runners are notorious for skipping warm-ups; often going straight into a full stride. But doing that is like starting a car in third gear; it might work, but the performance will be inefficient and potentially damaging.

A warm-up raises body temperature, increases heart rate, and mobilizes the joints. An increase in body temperature helps promote the flow of synovial fluid, which is a liquid that surrounds and cushions joint surfaces to reduce friction. Synovial fluid also makes muscles more pliable and less prone to straining or tearing.

In addition, a warm-up will divert blood away from the internal organs to supply the muscles with the oxygen they require to function efficiently.

If you haven't done so already, add a warm-up to your workout routine. Remember to always warm up before you take off.

Go Long

If you want to dramatically improve your endurance and overall fitness, add a long run or walk to your routine.

Long runs are the foundation of any good marathon training plan. But long distance isn't just for those wishing to cover 26.2 miles. Even a recreational walker can benefit from "going long".

By running or walking longer "cardiovascular adaption" occurs strengthening your heart and improving its ability to pump oxygen-rich blood to your working muscles.

On a physiological level, it will increase the number and size of your mitochondria, increase capillary growth and myoglobin concentration in muscle fibers, as well as improve your aerobic efficiency.

More important to the average person, a long run will strengthen your leg muscles, help to develop mental toughness, and increase your capacity to burn fat.

Long is a relative term; to some it's 5 miles to others it's 25. A long run or walk should be a minimum of 1.5 - 2 times the length of your average daily run or walk. And to avoid injury, you should "go long" no more than once a week.

Buddy Up

A great way to make a run or walk more enjoyable is to share it with a training partner. Running or walking with someone else usually seems to make the time pass more quickly (provided of course, you're with someone you like).

When selecting a training partner, pick someone who runs or walks within your pace range. After all, the idea it to cover the distance TOGETHER. You shouldn't always be struggling to keep up. But challenging yourself by occasionally running with a faster runner isn't a bad thing. And although you don't want to be waiting for them to catch up to you, slowing down your usual pace once or twice a week to jog along with a slower person can give your system a rest.

If you're not already running or walking (at least occasionally) with a friend, co-worker, or family member, you should consider it, because a running or walking partner will help make your exercise routine more consistent by keeping you accountable. You will be less likely to skip a workout when you know someone else is waiting for you.

Running with a buddy is also safer than running alone because you are less vulnerable to potential danger, and there's someone to help in case you fall or become ill.

The Shadow Knows

A popular radio show from the 1930s use to start each episode with the phrase,  "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows."

Your shadow can reveal a lot about you…specifically, your form.

In your mind, you may think your stride is smooth and beauty. But reality may not be as pretty as you imagine. So on a sunny day, watch your shadow as you run or walk. Look for problems like too much side to side sway, poor posture, improper arm carriage, or excessive bounce.

By watching your shadow, especially at the end of your run or walk when you're more fatigued, you will see what you need to do to correct your form, and will become familiar with what proper form should feel like.

In an age of ultra high tech gadgetry, GPS heart rate monitors, and hi-speed digital gait analysis, it's unusual something as simple as your watching shadow can help improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury.

And, no batteries are required.

Overuse Injuries -

Nothing can derail a running or walking program quicker than an injury. And, if you run or walk regularly, chances are you will eventually get injured.

Understanding the causes of injuries is the first step toward preventing them.

Acute injuries are usually caused by trauma - for example a sprained ankle resulting from a fall.

But, overuse injuries develop slowly, and can be more difficult to recognize and prevent.

Overuse injuries are caused by such things as:

- doing too much, too soon, or too fast

- not getting adequate rest for muscle recovery

- incorrect or improper footwear

- and, biomechanical problems

Being strong and flexible in some places but weak and inflexible in others creates muscle imbalances that adversely affect muscle alignment and biomechanics.

The root causes of running and walking overuse injuries are directly related to overload, weaknesses, biomechanics, or a combination of these. By eliminating any one cause, you can positively affect the others and greatly reduce your risk of injury.

In addition to understanding and eliminating root causes of overuse injuries, to help make it easier, here are a dozen "don'ts"…not a dozen donuts. But twelve things you should never do in regard to running and walking.

1) DON'T go fast all the time.

2) DON'T go long without working up to it.

3) DON'T go both fast and long, often.

4) DON'T start without a warm-up and go fast right away.

5) DON'T wear improper shoes.

6) DON'T avoid stretching.

7) DON'T avoid strength training.

8) DON'T make drastic changes to your form, routine, or mileage without allowing time to adapt.

9) DON'T ignore early warning signs of an injury like sore spots, excessive stiffness, or chronic pain.

10) DON'T attempt to run or walk through an illness or injury.

11) DON'T attempt to start back where you left off if you've been sick or injured.

12) DON'T allow ego to overrule common sense.

If you follow this simple list, you can avoid most overuse injuries.

Oh yes, and you should also avoid eating a dozen donuts.

Longer Life

A new report now conclusively proves what runners have always believed; running adds years to your life.

The results of an extensive study which began in 1976 and involved 20,000 people ranging in ages from 20 to 93 have finally been published. And according to the chief cardiologist overseeing the research they can (quote), "say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity".

The researchers found jogging at a slow pace for one to two and a half hours weekly provided the most significant benefits. And most impressively, men can extend their life by 6.2 years and women by 5.6 years.

Still not convinced? Consider Fauja Singh who took up running at then age of 89, and who in October of 2011 became the first 100 year old person to complete a full 26.2 mile marathon. He finished in 8 hours and 11 minutes.

So running doesn't just add years to your life - it can also add life to those years!

Long Live Runners!

Above I mentioned a recently published 36-year study proving running can extend a man's life by 6.2 years and a woman's by 5.6 years. In a similar study spanning 21 years, researchers found runners have a 56 percent lower mortality rate compared to their sedentary counterparts.

These studies cite several reasons which probably contributed to the increased life expectancy including improvements relating to: heart function, insulin sensitivity, oxygen uptake, bone density, immune function, and psychological well-being. In addition, running raised good cholesterol while lowering triglycerides, and blood pressure.

There are however, certain inevitabilities which the aging runner (and walker) must face, including: drops in your VO2 max, strength, stride length and pace. And in my next tip, I will address those.

What may be most useful from the results of the study is the effect running has on the ability to perform basic daily tasks. Running delays the onset of age-related disability by an average of 16 years.

Age Well

Although running can delay the on-set of many age-related conditions, there are certain inevitabilities runners (and walkers) must face as they grow old.

VO2 max is the body's ability to process and deliver oxygen. This measurement drops by about .5 to 1 percent per decade. So older runners wishing to remain competitive should focus on longer distance races; opting for the marathon over the 5K. And, by including one pace-oriented training run per week, like reps or a tempo run, a masters-age racer can greatly reduce their loss of speed.

Adding hill training will help both speed and strength.

Muscular strength peaks between 25 and 30 years of age. By 40, strength begins to drop significantly. To slow the process, runners and walkers should add strength training to their routines. Two short weight lifting sessions per week can really help. And if you add strength, it's important to balance it with flexibility. So don't neglect stretching.

Safety Check -

Running or walking outdoors poses a variety of challenges. And those challenges change with the seasons. But one constant throughout the year is the need for safety. Here are a few reminders to help make every outdoor workout as safe as possible.

In addition to wearing brightly colored hi-visiblity clothing, always run or walk facing traffic so you can stay alert to potential problems and avoid drivers who may not be paying attention. Seeing a car coming toward you gives you more reaction time in case that car swerves.

You really should avoid wearing headphones for outdoor runs or walks. But if you simply can't go without the music, turn the volume down and keep one ear uncovered so you will hear what's going on around you.

You need to be aware of your surroundings and possible threats, whether an approaching car, an overly-aggressive dog, or person coming up behind you.

If possible, try to run or walk with a friend or group. But if you can't, always carry ID. And let someone know where you will be, when you plan to be back, and then check in with them when you do return.

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