NIFS Healthy Living Blog

More Workout in Less Time: Incorporating the Squat and Press

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 11.26.57 AM.pngBurning more calories, developing more strength, and building the ultimate body in less time is an equation I think we can all get behind. In our world of “on-the-go” fitness—and, well, pretty much everything—finding ways to get more done in less time is a priority in many of our lives. But being effective and getting things done are two different things, in my opinion, and movement does not always result in progress. Being efficient and getting results at the same time in your fitness programming takes planning and choosing the best exercises for your desired outcomes.

Two Steps to More Efficient Workouts

Scheduling your weekly workouts and determining the amount of time you can dedicate to each session is an important first step. Writing those workout sessions in your scheduler, as opposed to simply telling yourself when you will train, will make those sessions a priority and aid in accountability. So write it down!

What you are doing during those sessions to get the most out of the time you’ve allotted to yourself is the next step. If you are just getting started in this new year, I highly suggest you schedule some time with one of our fitness professionals to help you develop that efficient and effective program.

The Squat and Press

One of my favorite Big Bang exercises I highlighted in a previous post is the squat and press. Combining both upper body and lower body, squat and pressing patterns, and loading the anterior core, the squat and press exercise provides a whole lot of BANG! This exercise can develop power and strength in multiple movement patterns such as the front squat, overhead press, and trunk stability. By combining these patterns, the squat and press also has a rather high metabolic cost on the body. In layman’s terms, this exercise will get you breathing hard fast! That equates to multiple fitness aspects being challenged in a single movement. Now that is efficiency!

Variations on the Exercise

Here are a few variations on the squat and press you can implement in your program. Remember, you cannot put on a tie before the shirt, so choose the progression that makes the most sense to you and your fitness level.

SQUAT PRESS TONY

 

BONUS Workout: Metabolic Burn

  • 1A sandbag squat & press (sub any variation) 3 x 10
  • 1B TRX rows 3 x 10
  • 1C mountain climber 3 x 10/leg
  • Rest 3 minutes
  • 2A kettlebell swings 3 x 15
  • 2B pushups 3 x 10–12
  • 2C side plank 3 x :30/side

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise workouts strength power video lower body scheduling metabolic cost squat and press upper body

Food Safety and Grilling: The Fun Way to Healthy Eating!

ThinkstockPhotos-475200404-1.jpgThe weather is warming up, the flowers are coming out, and daylight is around much longer at night. All of these things mean one thing: time to start grilling again! Having a barbecue or cookout is a wonderful way to do a majority of your cooking because it is a healthy preparation method and leaves little to no cleanup in the kitchen!

However, there can be some safety concerns when it comes to grilling, so read below to make sure you are informed.

Follow Proper Meat Temperatures

One of the most common reasons for food poisoning is not cooking your meat to the proper temperature. In fact, only 23% of Americans say they use a meat thermometer. This is the easiest and best way to make sure you are cooking your meat to the proper temperature. Here are the food safety temperature guidelines for different types of meat:

  • Chicken: 165 degrees
  • Pork: 145 degrees
  • Hamburgers: 160 degrees
  • Steak: 145 degrees
  • Bratwurst: 160 degrees
  • Fish: 145 degrees
  • Leftovers: 165 degrees

Use Condiments and Marinades Safely

Another thing to be cautious about is condiment safety. Always be sure to marinate meat in the refrigerator vs. sitting out on a counter or out by the grill. If you are reusing the sauce used on raw meats, bring it to a boil before using it on cooked meats; or throw it away to prevent cross-contamination. Condiments should not be left sitting out for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees).

Don’t Reuse Cutting Boards and Platters

Something that might happen if you are in a hurry (or trying to cut down on dirty dishes) is to use the same cutting board or platter that had the raw meat on it for chopping veggies, or to put the cooked meat back on it. This can definitely be a recipe for disaster, so be sure to grab a different platter or cutting board, or clean the original one thoroughly with hot soapy water before using again.

Wash Hands and Utensils

Finally, don’t forget about those tools and your hands! This is where a lot of bacteria from the raw meat can reside. Thoroughly wash your grilling utensils once they have come in contact with the raw meat instead of just hanging them up on the side of the grill. Also, be sure to wash your hands and the grill handle that you touch with your hands after handling the raw meat.

Taking these small extra steps can guarantee a spring and summer filled with delicious (and safe) foods from the grill! And here are some tips for healthy eating at your next barbecue.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: healthy eating summer food safety grilling

Exercise and Nutrition Tips for Pregnancy

ThinkstockPhotos-585091536.jpgAfter spending some time a few weeks back with my pregnant sister-in-law, it dawned on me the essentials of knowing what to do in terms of nutrition and exercise during each trimester of pregnancy. We spent some time working out together and talking about what is safe, what to avoid, and the changes that the body goes through. And while most of the blogs that we write tend to revolve around our comfort level and expertise, I thought I’d get out on a limb a little bit and write about some key things regarding exercise and nutrition while pregnant.

 

Trimester 1 (Weeks 1–12)

Nutrition: Not a lot of nutrition changes occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. During this time you might experience some of the more common unpleasant side effects of all of those hormones your body is producing—mainly nausea. Most research shows the best way to keep the nausea at bay is to constantly keep some food in your stomach. This could be crackers, fruit, half a sandwich, yogurt, etc. The key is to eat frequent meals throughout the day. For those that have nausea the worst in the morning, this might mean setting an alarm in the middle of the night to have a snack. Your calorie needs are not higher during this time and your weight should stay the same.

Exercise: During your first trimester, it’s typically okay to continue most things. You should continue whatever workout program you have been doing. Exercise is good for both you and your baby to assist in your mood, energy levels, weight, and overall health, so keep exercising; and if you don’t currently work out, try to start moderately. While most exercise is good, there are some things that you want to avoid. Make sure you avoid exercises done laying on your back, movements where your feet are in the air above your head (common in yoga and headstands), too much twisting of the abdomen, and explosive movements. Pay attention through the entire pregnancy to your temperature: keep yourself cool and regulate your breathing, being sure not to be overly strained.

Trimester 2 (Weeks 13–27)

Nutrition: The key thing to keep in mind is that you are not eating for two. Your body and your baby require only an additional 300 extra calories per day for the second and third trimester. Ideally, these calories will come from food sources that are good for you and the baby. Here is a list of important nutrients and an average goal to achieve:

  • Protein: 75–100g each day to help with brain development and increasing your blood supply for the baby. Lean sources such as chicken, cooked fish, pork, eggs, beans, and nuts or nut butters are important to incorporate at meals and snacks. Keeping track with a food-logging app such as MyFitnessPal is the easiest way to reach your goal.
  • Calcium: 1,000mg each day to help form the baby’s bones and tooth buds. This is around three to four servings of dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, or cheese each day. In addition, eating foods such as leafy greens and fortified foods is another way to reach this goal.
  • Iron: 27mg per day is ideal to help increase blood volume. The best sources of iron are leafy greens, whole grains, and lean seafood.
  • Folic acid: 600–800mcg per day to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. This can be achieved by consuming a balanced diet with plenty of fruit, veggies, whole grains, and lentils.

Exercise: It is important to continue your fitness routine; however, you want to choose activities that are low impact like walking or swimming. Most exercises during this trimester are safe in moderation. Because of the muscles being distended, you want to avoid exercises that are done overhead like the military press. Also, be sure to eliminate jumping exercises or things like outdoor biking where there is potential to fall onto your stomach. Continue to avoid exercises on the back and keep your heart rate and breathing under control.

Trimester 3 (Week 28–birth)

Nutrition: While trimester 2 and 3 follow the same nutrition guidelines, there are some important things to keep in mind with foods while being pregnant. Some foods have been known to cause harm to the developing baby. The best way to avoid this is to be sure all meats have been cooked to their proper temperatures. Also, reducing or eliminating the caffeine from your diet is recommended. Sticking to 200mg or less per day (the amount in 1 cup of coffee) is ideal. In addition, avoid fish high in mercury such as shark, swordfish, and mackerel and have only small amounts of canned white albacore tuna. Finally, deli meats have been known to have listeria, so if you are eating it heat up your meat in the microwave to kill any possible bacteria.

Exercise: It is important to continue low-impact exercises. If you are a runner or someone used to high- to moderate-intensity exercise, make sure that you consult your physician before continuing your routine. During the third trimester, there should not be any lifting of heavy weights due to the stress it puts on the ligaments. Again, do nothing on your back. The important thing is to get adequate rest and hydration as you prepare to meet your little one.

As you can see, exercise and nutrition are both essential pieces to having a healthy pregnancy and birth of your child. If you have any questions regarding either your exercise routine or nutrition, consult your doctor at the start of your pregnancy to ensure a safe trip down baby lane!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager, and Angie Mitchell, Registered Dietitian. For more information about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise nutrition fitness center pregnancy

You’re Not Finished Yet: Action List to Create Real Fitness Change

FFA2017.jpgBack on March 4 I participated in my fourth Fight for Air Climb (check out the NIFS team results here, too!) with a band of NIFS warriors. If you don’t know much about the climb, to put it simply, you race up the tallest building in Indy, the Salesforce Tower in downtown Indianapolis—forty-seven flights of stairs to the top with a 360-degree view of our great city waiting for you at the finish. It’s a great event for raising awareness and funds for the fight against lung cancer and other cardiopulmonary conditions.

I raced to the top five times this year in under an hour, and I am rather proud of how I did. But very few people know that the day before the climb I was in a hospital room visiting my mother, who is suffering from Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). She has battled CHF for a long time now, and this was not her first time being admitted for symptoms involved with CHF. It doesn’t get any easier to walk through those hospital hallways to go see her.

A Call to Action

Now before we go any further, you need to be aware that this is not meant to be a “touchy-feely” kind of piece or a promotion for the FFA event. This is a “finger-pointing,” call-to-action kind of piece for those of us who participate in some type of physical event in support of some cause, and failing to further the effort to create real change. Quite simply, participating in an event and drinking a bunch of beer afterward is not enough to help those you claim to be supporting.

I think someone’s willingness to give up a Saturday and put their body through some fitness-related act is noble and a decent start, but it can’t end there. I see it far too often: run a 5K, walk for diabetes, climb for lung cancer, snap a few photos for Facebook or Instagram, drink a few complimentary beverages (usually the wheat and barley variety), and after the event is over the effort stops. This will not inspire real change; it may make you feel better about yourself, but the completion of the event itself will not create much impact to those in true need of your help.

Actions to Take After the Event to Create Real Change

Once again, this is a call to action to make an actual change and not simply pride yourself on supporting a cause. I challenge you that you are not done once you cross that finish line, and you have to do more both for the large-scale efforts, and just as important, the efforts that hit close to home.

  1. Be brave and reach out to show someone you care, and start the process of change by providing information on mindset and readiness for change.
  2. Emphasize small steps at a time to create real change; small steps add up to big change.
  3. Get them moving; a casual walk can be all it takes to create change.
  4. Educate someone about nutrition and how to replace the mac and cheese and fried foods with grilled parsnips and carrots, and a green salad.
  5. Be a good example and practice what you preach
  6. Continually show somebody that you are proud of the steps they are taking toward change; “I’m proud of you” are very powerful words.
  7. Donate to the cause you support; maybe instead of the daily venti mocha macchiato, save the nine dollars and make a monthly contribution.
  8. Volunteer your time and help out during events, or spend time with those individuals; don’t wait until next year’s event to be active in the cause.
  9. Fundraise for your cause. Start knocking on some doors and spread the word about your cause and get others to donate or join.
  10. Form a Facebook support group and share information on how to create change.

I provided just 10 actions you can take. I’m sure there are many more. Understand that simply running an event does not make you an ultimate catalyst for making changes. If you want to help someone, you have to put in the legwork that has to far exceed the 5K you completed on a Saturday for the free beer and t-shirt at the end. I wish I would have done more for my mother and maybe she wouldn't be in a hospital bed. This is your call to action, and mine! It's not too late, but don't wait until it is!

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness challenge making changes cardiopulmonary

The Benefits of the Hip Press Exercise in Developing Glutes

glutes.jpgThe benefits and importance of developing the glutes in sports performance, fitness, and physique is a popular topic these days and has been for quite some time. In fact, an entire industry is built around shaping the perfect backside for some, and developing the most powerful athlete for others.

“The big house,” a term I have adopted from Mike Boyle, is a part of the body that has so many important duties in human movement (and yes, for filling out a swimsuit as well) that it should be a focus in everybody’s program. Until recently we targeted this area through back squats, lunges, kettlebell swings, clamshells, and the like, which are all very good options. The hip press, also known as the hip thruster, has been found to be possibly the most effective exercise for gluteal engagement, strength, and development. It has definitely become one of my go-to exercises personally and with the individuals I work with.

How to Perform the Exercise

So how effective is the hip press in developing this important area of our body? My buddy Alex Soller did some of the legwork already for me in his post Are You Glute-n Free? The Importance of Exercises for Glutes, where he covers the structural importance of the glutes and some exercises to enhance them. But we will focus on the hip press here and why it has quickly became one of the best ways to get the most out of the big house. In the video below, Kaci demonstrates some of the most popular ways to perform the hip press using our newly acquired hip press bench that will set you up for success when training the hips.

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 12.14.15 PM.png

Programming for Glute Development

In a 2014 post, Eric Cressey and Bret Contreras compared the “glute-building potential” of the back squat and hip press. Their ultimate belief, as well as mine, is that both are important movements for glute development and should be a part of your programming. This is partially due to the differences the two movements have in the activation of the glutes and the tension generated throughout both exercises. What I found significant in their findings is the massive difference in the activation of the glutes during the hip press leading to the burning pump that you will feel performing a challenging set of presses. This is a feeling you will just have to experience for yourself! I also believe that the hip press is a safer and easier option for the average gym-goer whereas the back squat can be a rather technical exercise, especially when dealing with heavier loads. 

The bottom line is (see what I did there?) that the hip press is a relatively easy movement to perform that can result in building that big house you have always wanted for fitness and physique. Need to learn more on how to implement the hip press into your program? Be sure to schedule your Assessment and Personal Program with an instructor today.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness exercises sports glutes programs

Benefits of Team Training for Fitness: Motivation and More

One of the hardest things about trying something new is that deep-rooted fear of not being able to do it. When you want to achieve something and feel you are on shaky ground about whether you actually can achieve it, the odds of you starting the task drops.

The Payoffs of a Team Support System

IMG_0184.jpgOne of the best ways to ensure that you overcome that fear is to have a support system or team behind you. There’s a lot to be said about the phrase, “There is strength in numbers.” Having that team environment and support system will allow for hefty payoff in your training. Take a look at some of the benefits.

  • Accountability with like-minded people: While this may be the most obvious result, it also happens to be one of the most beneficial. Having a group of people who will follow the same training plan can help to keep you accountable in both your workouts and goals.
  • Punctuality: Having a support team behind you in your health and fitness goals often correlates with your “workout buddy.” Having someone or a group to meet at the gym will not only get you there more often, but will also get you there on time.
  • No excuses: There are about a million and one excuses that we all can come up with as to why you won’t get yourself to your workout. But by having a team behind you, the excuses drop quickly and the desire to make less and less of them becomes more and more real.
  • Encouragement: Sometimes we all need a little bit of encouragement to keep us moving along and staying motivated. If you have ever been on any sort of sports team, you quickly learned that the power behind encouragement from more than one person is strong and can really get you going.
  • Social network: As we know, the wide world of social media has exploded and is constantly at our fingertips. And in the exercise world, creating a social network in your workouts beyond face-to-face time in the gym is a great tool to keep yourself on track and “like” what your friends are doing. Exercise is more than fitness; it’s about the social experience involved, too.
  • Motivation: We all have experienced those times in our fitness journey when we have wanted to give up. The demand is too hard, the time we have available is pressing, or the work project gets in the way and we quit. Having a team support system behind you will allow you to get over that roadblock and move in the right direction: forward.

Tri-bikes.jpgTraining within a group or team setting provides you with more than you thought you needed to meet your fitness goals. And training with a group of people who are working for the same thing can be powerful and even unstoppable!

Try NIFS’ Triathlon Training Program

If you are looking for this type of environment, you should try our Women’s Go Girl Triathlon Training Program. Training with a group of 30 women who are all working to cross the finish line at the Eagle Creek Triathlon in August is a fun and empowering thing! Give it a “tri" and challenge yourself to something new!

Early-bird registration is May 10–31. Spots are limited, so register now. To read more about the Go Girl Tri-Training Program, click here.

TRI-HEADER-pink.jpg

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manger. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS motivation accountability triathlon training program

Glute Exercises for Runners

ThinkstockPhotos-517225814.jpgHaving strong glutes is essential for reducing your risk of injury and preventing lower back pain. Those muscles help protect your knees while walking and running, they help you with your speed, and they stabilize the entire leg. Without strong glutes, the entire lower body may fall out of balance causing other injuries

I could talk all day about this group of muscles, but instead I’m going to show you three simple exercises you can do anywhere to help strengthen them.

These exercises are just general recommendations, and you should never feel any pain. If you are experiencing pain, recovering from an injury, or need a modification make sure to talk with a NIFS Fitness Specialist in the fitness center downstairs.

3 Glute Strengthening exercises for runnersFor all of these exercises, complete 10-20 reps 2-3 times 3 times a week.

Exercise 1) Curtsey Lunge—Begin standing with your feet under your hips and hands on your waist. Cross your left leg behind your right, bending your knee and lowering down into a lunge position. Drive through your front heel as you stand and bring your back foot to starting position. Repeat on the other side and continue to alternate.

Exercise 2) Glute Bridge—Lie flat on your back, feet flat and hip distance apart, knees bent and arms down at your sides. Position your feet as close to your bottom as possible. Drive through the heels to lift your hips up to the ceiling. Hold for a count of 2, then slowly lower down to starting position.

Exercise 3) Side Lying Diamond Leg Lifts—Lie on your side with your body in a straight line.
Bring your feet together and your knees together, your knees should be slightly in front of your body. Rest your head on your hand or lie down. Gently open your legs like a clam then close them for one rep. Repeat on the other side.

While getting in the miles is very important when training for a half marathon, it’s essential to balance your running routine with adequate stretching and strength training exercises to keep your body in good running condition. This will help prevent injuries and you will feel strong as you cross that Mini Marathon Finish line!

Fore more glute exercises see our blog,  Are You Glute-n Free.

Comment in the comment section below with some of the exercises you incorporate into your running routine!

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This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, nutirition specialist. Follow Tara on her blog, Treble in the Kitchen. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running mini marathon injury prevention exercises glutes Mini-Marathon Training Program

How to Hydrate During Half Marathon Training

ThinkstockPhotos-650727070.jpgHydration is just as important, or maybe even more important, than proper nutrition and a balanced training plan. Dehydration is the largest contributor to fatigue when training or running. Our body sweats to regulate body temperature and complete many other functions that keep us healthy. When our body loses fluid and electrolytes through these processes, it needs to be replaced.

In order to be hydrated enough to enjoy your race, it’s important to think about consuming fuids before, during, and after the run.

Before: The days leading up to the race or a long run, it is important to really focus on constantly drinking water throughout the day so that on the day of the long run or race you are just topping off your tank. A general recommendation is to drink half of your body weight in oz. Example – a 150lb person would consume 75 oz of water.   It’s recommended to stop drinking about 30 minutes before a long run or race so you have time to use the facilities.

During: Drinking while running a half marathon may sound like a challenge, but actually taking a second to drink the water provided along the race course will make you feel SO much better at the finish line. Try to drink 16-20 oz an hour. This will vary depending on how much you sweat, how hot it is and the intensity of your exercise.

After: Proper hydration helps with recovery, so it’s essential to replenish when you complete your race. It’s typically recommended to drink about 24 oz for every pound of body weight lost during the race.

Now, you may be wondering about sports drinks. Sports drinks are higher in calories and sugar than water and they also contain electrolytes like potassium and sodium that your body lost through sweat. The purpose of sports drinks is to help replenish your body of the nutrients it lost. If you are running for more than an hour, sports drinks may be a better option to help you recover.Now that you understand WHEN to hydrate, let’s talk about HOW to hydrate:

How to Hydrate for a half marathon

Water Bottle:

I carry this water bottle with me throughout the day. I love that it has the measurements on the side, so I can monitor how much water I consume. Because I carry it with me, I am more inclined to drink throughout the day rather than all at once when I think about it.

Hydrating Fruits and Vegetables:

Foods such as lettuce, grapefruit, watermelon and broccoli have a high water content. Consuming foods like this throughout the day will help your hydration levels stay balanced.

Homemade Sports Drink:

This homemade sports drink is the perfect balance of carbohydrates and electrolytes to help you refuel AND it’s made with real ingredients. The citrus are thirst quenching and provide simple carbohydrates that are easily digested. Pure maple syrup is lower on the glycemic index, which means that these carbohydrates are digested at a slower rate for longer lasting energy. Water and the coconut water are both fluid, and the coconut water is also a source of electrolytes to help your body maintain balance.

It’s very simple to make at home, and I’ll include the link in the comments below!

The takeaway here is to make sure to drink water throughout the day, and when you are completing your longer runs or the actual race make sure to consume water or a sports drink every hour and immediately following the race to help maintain energy levels and aid in the recovery process.

Comment below with your favorite ways to hydrate and I’ll see you next time with more half marathon training tips!

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This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, nutirition specialist. Follow Tara on her blog, Treble in the Kitchen. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition running mini marathon hydration Mini-Marathon Training Program

3 Foods to Eat Before You Run

®ThinkstockPhotos-617595994.jpgWe all know that having a wonderful training program is important, but that’s only one piece of the pie. Another key part of successfully training for a half marathon or endurance activity is having proper nutrition

If you don’t fuel your body with the nutrients it needs – a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat – you are likely to bonk and run out of energy mid run. And that isn’t fun for anyone! When I plan my foods to eat before a long run or workout, I make sure it has:

  • Easily digested carbs for long lasting energy
  • Protein for muscle repair and recovery
  • Small amount of Fat

It’s also important to make sure to consider the timing. Everyone is different, so it’s important to pay attention to what foods your body digests well and what makes you feel best.

It’s typically recommended to eat between 3 hours or 30 minutes before a workout.

My 3 favorite foods to eat before a long run or hard workout are:

  • A couple of dates stuffed with nut butter
    • Dates are filled with simple sugar, which is typically easily digested and the nut butter gives your body a bit of protein for recovery and healthy fat.
  • Larabar®
    • Larabars® are easy to grab. The ingredient list is full of real foods (dates, dried fruit, nuts) so they are a great source of those easily digested carbohydrates.
  • Carrots and Hummus
    • The hummus and carrots provide essential carbohydrates and the chickpeas in the hummus also provides the necessary protein for recovery with a small amount of fat.

Those are some of our favorite foods to eat within a 3 hour window before completing a long run.


Nutrition for the Pre-Run

Remember that everyone is different, and different foods and different timing may make you feel great! Try looking for your best source of carbs, protein and fat to eat within that 3 hour window before running. And make sure to do ALL experimenting before race day. Trying something new on race day could throw your entire race off!

Be sure to comment below with some of your favorite foods to eat before a training run!

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This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, nutirition specialist. Follow Tara on her blog, Treble in the Kitchen. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: cardio nutrition mini marathon protein carbs

Choosing the Best Obstacle Course Race for Your Fitness

ThinkstockPhotos-481448438.jpgThe weather is getting warmer; people are starting to take their running from the treadmill to the streets and training for upcoming spring races. With the warmer weather comes endless options for races to run and events to participate in. Maybe you are up for a new fitness challenge this year, a type of race that you have never tried before.

Obstacle course races (such as Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash) are new and exciting to a lot of runners. They bring something different from the normal concrete road races—something enticing, new, and exciting! If you are considering an obstacle race this year, here are five things to consider when picking which one is best for you.

Distance/length: A cool thing about obstacle races is that the obstacles break up the total distance of the race. You may be able to run further than you do in a typical road race because you will get intermittent short breaks from running while completing the obstacles.
Number of obstacles: Some races are full of obstacles, while others have just a few along the course. Having an idea of how many you are willing to complete will help when picking the race. Most races give you the number of obstacles before you register.
Difficulty of obstacle/option to skip: It is important before you sign up for the race to make sure you are able to accomplish the obstacles at hand; in many races you are not able to skip over them. Electric shock, crawling through mud with barbed wire overhead, monkey bars, cliff jumps… while it may be fun for some, not everyone digs this! Be sure to check out the difficulty level to make sure you are up for the challenge.
Group vs. Solo: The great thing about races is that they bring everyone together, and people are generally friendly and “suffering” through the race right there with you. Some obstacles require teamwork to accomplish, and due to the nature of the course, no doubt someone will be there to help you out. If you do it with a group, you can help each other out; otherwise plan to use your new friends to assist you.
Training: If your typical workout consists of only running, changing up your training before the race is something to consider. You want to be prepared for the obstacles that will be thrown at you. Breaking up your run with different types of strength exercises will be a great start when preparing. Stop by the NIFS track desk and an HFS can help you design a program that will help you prepare for obstacles.

Although these are just five factors to consider when deciding what obstacle race to run, hopefully they will help with your decision. Go out and pick one that is the best fit for you.

Happy running!

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This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, Personal Trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness running obstacle course race spring