NIFS Healthy Living Blog

From Mini-Marathon Participant to Ironman: NIFS Leader Nick Iaria

Nick-Before.jpgnick-after.jpgLongtime NIFS Mini-Marathon Program leader Nick Iaria shares his personal story about the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program, his fitness changes, and his path to completing an Ironman triathlon.

How long have you been involved in the NIFS Mini-Marathon Program, and what made you decide to join?

I joined in 2009 as a participant, not a leader. I was a part of the run/walk group, and up to that point in my life had never completed a distance over 5 miles. Since 2010 I have been a group leader in the run/walk group and have transitioned to different time-specific groups over the years (11-minute, 10-minute, etc.).

I found out about the program from my then girlfriend, now wife, who was an intern at NIFS, and she was joining as a run/walk leader. I think I joined not just because of her, but because I was interested in finding out if I could do it. I don’t think I would have just gone out of my way to train for it on my own. I needed the knowledge and experience that NIFS gave in the training program format to get me started.

Since being a part of the program you have gone from the run/walk group to, in 2017, leading the 8:30 pace group. How did you manage to increase your speed?

I would like to say I did X and then Y and that led me to Z, but that isn’t how it worked. I am not sure what path got me here, but I think I just had a desire to improve and to continue just for the purpose of continuing. I do think that a large improvement came in the form of my mental training over the years that became a critical step in enhancing my physical development, which led to an increase in speed. It was never really my goal to get to a certain pace or speed; it just kind of happened.

Another key ingredient is core body strength. By improving the strength of my midsection and upper legs over the past two years, it has helped in pushing through the “I want to slow down” or “full-out quit” moments. The mental/physiological improvements I have made within myself—where I believe more in myself and I learn to listen to my body and learn from past mistakes during runs or events where I didn’t do the right things along the way—has been a key part of my success. I don’t take anything as a failure, just a learning opportunity for the next time.

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Why do you enjoy running?

Until recently I have never considered myself a runner; I always considered myself a jogger. However, the stronger and longer I go, the more I feel like a runner. I enjoy it because I can do it whenever (early morning, evening, etc.) and wherever (outside in the elements or inside on a treadmill, etc.). I don’t need anything besides a good pair of shoes and sometimes some good music to get me started or keep me going. It is something I can do alone or with other people. It is versatile as I can go different speeds or distances, and it is easy to track both with different forms of technology so I can track my results as I go.

Last year you were a Mini-Marathon Ambassador. What did that mean, and why do you love the Mini-Marathon so much?

I felt really honored to be a part of the program’s first year. There was an amazing group of 32 other people from all walks of life with different Mini experiences. Getting to interact with them and being able to help others who had questions or needed advice on the Mini made this year’s race that much better when I rang the PR bell at the finish.

My love for it came with my first time back in 2009. I was in a car accident (not my fault) 2.5 weeks before the race and had 5 stitches put in my knee. They were taken out the Monday of race week. I went back and forth all week about whether I should even do it, and that went all the way up to the morning of the race. For some reason I thought I could deal with the pain and still go out and run/walk the full 13.1 miles, but only made it through 4 miles. I knew I had to walk in order to finish and I WAS GOING TO FINISH. Walking the next 9 miles was really fun (and a bit painful) to be walking and interacting with all the different walkers and groups on the side of the road/track cheering us all on. My experience would have been different if I wasn’t walking and taking it all in. Plus, I ended up posing for one of the photographers on the track and ended up on one of the 2010 Mini advertisement posters, so that was an unintended perk, too.

What advice do you have for individuals just starting out or thinking about training for a half marathon?

If it is something that interests you or if you are looking to see how far you can push yourself, I know that feeling. I went way outside my comfort zone recently when I signed up for a full Ironman triathlon (that’s 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running). It was way outside my comfort zone since I had never swum that far, never biked that far, and had only completed 26.2 miles twice previously at an average completion time of around 6 hours, and it was a struggle just completing the 26.2 miles, so combining all those into one day seemed unattainable. But I told myself there is only one way to find out, and with the support of my friends and family, I signed up, got a triathlon training program, and on October 9 I reached my goal and crossed the finish line.

So, that is my advice: If you are thinking about it, then you probably already want to do it, but just need that confidence or something that helps you to convince yourself that you can reach that goal. I know that you can do it, no matter your level of experience or age. I would say join a program like I did when I joined the NIFS program back in 2009. It will help in learning what to do and when to do it, plus it will help provide that accountability from start to finish for you. The finish line doesn’t care if you run, jog, walk, or roll across it; it only cares that you cross it.

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Congratulations, Nick, on a wonderful accomplishment! And thank you for your continued dedication to the NIFS Mini-Marathon and 5K Training Program. If you have been thinking about competing in the Mini-Marathon or any other spring half-marathon, or training for a 5K, registration is now open for these NIFS programs. Sign up here!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS running triathlon mini marathon NIFS programs 5k Mini-Marathon Training Program Ironman

Thomas’s Corner: Functional Training Series (Part 1)

ThinkstockPhotos-523032469-2.jpgWhat Is Functional Training?

The term functional training is a mainstay in the current fitness/wellness vernacular, but what is it? In lay terms, it is training that supports movements that are performed in everyday life outside the gym, or that are naturally occurring movement patterns (whether or not you use them).

Where You See Functional Training

You encounter functional training anytime you are walking, running, pushing, pulling, twisting, or bending (almost every movement!). As Mike Blume, Athletic Performance Trainer at NIFS, puts it, “Functional training improves our activities of daily living (ADLs), which will then help us get through each day easier.” This improved quality of life could affect something as simple as tying your shoes, to playing with your children on the floor, to carrying your groceries to your second-floor apartment.

Choosing the Right Functional Training Movements

Not all functional training exercises are created equal. We find that exercises that are more specific or have a greater “transfer effect” can have a greater overall impact on the participant going as far as increased brain/muscle motor control). Exercises that are on the other end of the spectrum have a lower overall impact, however.

Preventing Functional Training Injury

We find the difficulty and complexity of an exercise must be taken into consideration and may be detrimental to a person’s health and wellness if they are not physically capable of performing the movement correctly. We all know that there is nothing functional about injury due to inexperience or physical limitation. See a NIFS fitness instructor or personal trainer to discuss functional training and how it applies to your workout level.

In part 2 of this two-part series, I'll look at lifting techniques for functional training.

Ready to get started on your road to fitness? We offer a free fitness assessment with no obligation to join! Click below to contact us and set up an appointment.

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood. For more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: Thomas' Corner running walking functional training muscles range of motion flexibility

TRI a New Challenge This Summer—NIFS Triathlon Training Can Help!

tri-1.jpgThere are so many different types of races out there to challenge yourself with this summer. Maybe you are signed up for a Spartan Race, a trail run, or a half marathon; but have you ever considered giving a triathlon a shot? If you haven’t done one before, I can say from first-hand experience: they are challenging, but very fun!

Triathlon is the combination of swimming, biking, and running. Now most of us would say, “Okay the last two don’t sound too bad…but no way, I am not a good swimmer.” One of the biggest deterrents keeping people from going out for a tri is the swim aspect. It is true that for most this is the most intimidating part, but just like the other two events, you just have to practice and get comfortable with it! Let’s take a quick look at the three events.

Swim

The length of the tri you sign up for will determine the distance you have to swim. The swim portion is done in open water (Tri Indy does theirs in the downtown canal, and Go Girl has their swim at Eagle Creek Park). Most people are not able to train in open water, but get into the pool as much as you can before the race. Find a training plan to follow, making sure that you are getting both distance and speed work, as well as drills, in your swimming sessions. Also, if you do not have any experience in swimming, I would suggest getting a lesson or two to learn proper breathing, strokes, and efficiency in the water.

Bike

The bike portion of the triathlon is done on the road. And like the swim, the distance will depend on what race you sign up for. A common misconception is that you have to go out and spend $2,000 on a great road bike. When race day comes, you will see every shape and size of bikes! The important thing to remember is, before getting out on your bike, to make sure it’s tuned up and in good shape to ride. Then practice running with it for the transitions, ride different distances and speeds, practice shifting gears, and just get comfortable using it.

Run

For many, next to swimming this may be one of the most challenging elements of the race. Just think you have already swum and biked, and now you have to get off and run! In the beginning your legs feel like jello and your body is telling you that you can’t possibly put one foot in front of the other and keep going. But you can do it! During your training, get in some longer runs and be sure to practice some bike-then-run days as well.

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Seems like it could be a lot, but thousands of people finish triathlons every year around the world. Make 2016 your year to scratch that off the list. There are training programs out there: get one, follow it, and finish that race!

TRI-HEADER-pink.jpgATTENTION WOMEN: If you are interested in completing the 2016 Go Girl Triathlon at Eagle Creek, we have a triathlon training program at NIFS!

Early Bird Registration is happening now! Sign up before May 21st and save $10 off training!

 

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running swimming triathlon summer biking

Interview: NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program Leader Andrea Kelley

mini-blog.jpgAs we approach NIFS 26th Annual Mini-Marathon & 5K Training Program, I wanted to take some time to interview Andrea Kelley. Andrea is a past Mini program participant and has since been involved in some of our other programs here at NIFS, as well as becoming a group leader for us. Sit back and enjoy reading about what this program can do for you.

What made you decide to join the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program?

When I first signed up for the program, I was new to running and wanted to push myself. I figured the Indianapolis Mini would be a good start, but I didn’t have a clue how to train. I found out about the NIFS training program and it made my goal feel so attainable, even for a newbie like me. This year I will complete my fourth Mini-Marathon and my eighth half marathon.

What benefits did you get through training with your group at NIFS?

I think the number-one benefit for me with training in a group is accountability. When my group is expecting me to show up, I am much less likely to listen to that little voice in my head that wants to skip the run. Also, I think group running provides the motivation to keep going, as well as an opportunity to learn from others who have been there before you. You’ll never meet a runner unwilling to give advice.

What was your favorite part about being in the training program here?

The social factor! I’ve made so many friends through the NIFS training program and running in general. The post-run snacks are pretty good, too.

What did you learn about yourself through running?

Running has provided me so many virtues, but one of the biggest I’ve learned is that I can’t reach the finish line unless I start. The idea of training for a half marathon for the first time was intimidating, but I would have never known what I was capable of if I didn’t give it a shot.

What has motivated you to continue running and sign up for more races?

The feeling of accomplishment I get from crossing those finish lines is unlike anything else I’ve ever felt. It’s so addicting. Also, I’m a competitive person, so if I beat my time from the last race, even better.

What made you decide that you wanted to become a group leader for the NIFS Mini Training Program?

I remember learning so much and being so motivated by my group leader (Angie Fiege) when I first participated in the program, and I wanted to hopefully do the same for someone else. I love being able to cheer on the program participants as well as motivate them when they’ve had a hard run. I’m looking forward to my second year as a group leader and can’t wait to meet my pace group!

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Mini-logo-2016-final-2.jpgMaybe this has inspired you to take the next step and join our program. REGISTER NOW!  Training starts Jan 27th. We are excited for another year and hope that we can help you achieve that goal that seemed nearly impossible before! See you at the start line.

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: motivation running group training mini marathon half marathon accountability NIFS programs

Using Real Food to Fuel Endurance Workouts

ThinkstockPhotos-476098644.jpgOne of my main rules of thumb when helping clients with their food and nutrition choices is to choose more real foods. So why is it that when you are training or working out for over an hour, you hear about the importance of sugary and packaged drinks, gels, and bars?

Replacing Nutrients Lost During Endurance Workouts

As you sweat and use your body’s energy stores, it is important to replace those with glucose (sugar) and electrolytes (sodium and potassium). The easiest thing to do is to grab a bottle of Gatorade or package of GU as you head out for your long walk or run. However, if you want to decrease the amount of processed and packaged foods in your diet, real food can work, too.

You need to choose a carbohydrate that is easily digestible. A quick and easy calculation to know how much you need to consume is ½ to 1 gram of carbohydrate per minute of exercise. So for a two-hour training session, you would aim for between 60 and 120 grams of carbohydrate throughout that time. The addition of the carbohydrates allows your body more readily available fuel, and therefore you can perform better and train longer.

Which Whole Foods Should You Eat for Better Performance?

So what foods can you use for marathon training or any other training that takes more than an hour? The most researched foods and easiest to digest are bananas and raisins. One banana and ¼ cup of raisins each has 30 grams of carbohydrates, while 8 ounces of Gatorade has 15 grams of carbohydrates. Other real food options are the following:
  • Medjool dates: 2 = 35 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Applesauce squeeze packets: 1 = 20 to 25 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Salted boiled potato or sweet potato: 1 =30 grams of carbohydrate. Once you cook the potato, you can put it in a plastic baggie and then tear off a corner and squeeze it out like a GU package during your workout. You can do the same thing with mashed bananas.
  • Sugary, low-fiber dry cereal: Check the label, but for Fruit Loops 1 cup = 27 grams of carbohydrate.
  • White bread with honey or jam: 1 piece with 2 TB. = 45 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Pretzels: 25 mini = 30 grams of carbohydrate.

Everyone’s body is different, and as with other training fuels, practice is key. Try out different foods and combinations to see how your body responds. Never try something new on race or competition day. Individualize your plan with foods that you like and will look forward to having during your workout.

If you are considering training for an upcoming event such as the Carmel, Geist, or Mini Marathon and need help with your nutrition plan, contact Angie Scheetz, RD, at ascheetz@nifs.org. Or, join our Mini-Marathon Training Program

REGISTER NOW! for the 2016 NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program. Remember training with a group is a proven way to succeed in your running goals. Training starts Jan 27th. 

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

Topics: nutrition running marathon training mini marathon endurance whole foods carbs

What’s Your 2016 Running Fitness Goal? Consider Marathon Training

ThinkstockPhotos-100454471.jpgI am not someone who is really into New Year’s resolutions. I prefer to use the term “goal” when thinking about next year. When looking ahead, everyone is always trying to make some sort of health and fitness resolution (which for some is awesome and works), but we all know that come the end of February to mid-March, many have fallen off the bandwagon already.

But I feel that when we have certain goals in mind, we typically tend to stick to them more. So, if you have on your bucket list or Yearly 2016 Goals to complete a half marathon, let NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program help keep you on track!

Running is one of the most popular fitness activities these days. With thousands of races going on around the nation each year, popularity and interest continue to grow. 2015 is killing it with weekly themed races around every corner. If you are not a runner and your 2016 goal is to start running, begin with a 5K; or if you are an experienced runner, work to increase your time in a race, or increase the distance of a run.

Top Tips for New Runners

If you are a new runner, there are some great tips put out by Runner's World to help you get started. Here are the top 10 things (with a little personal addition from me) they suggest to help:

  • Buy the right pair of running shoes. It’s absolutely hands-down worth your investment!
  • Be patient. Don’t freak out about getting a certain time; be patient and focus on completing the race instead of trying to set a pace that might be impossible to complete.
  • Don’t forget rest days. Rest is often neglected, but it’s one of the most important aspects of staying healthy during training. Read this earlier blog on the NIFS page about the importance of recovery.
  • Join a running group. This helps to keep you accountable and committed to your training plan.
  • Make it a habit, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. The toughest part of any exercise routine is to stay committed. Do your best to schedule it into your day.
  • Build your distance gradually. If your goal is 3 miles and you don’t currently run, take your time to build to 3 miles—it’s a process!
  • Mix in some things other than running. Running exclusively can have the the opposite of the effect you want and leads to injury. Be sure to cross-train as well as do some strength training.
  • Make goals that are achievable. You want to be sure to set goals that you can reach and be successful at.

TIME TO TAKE ACTION: Join the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program

This program is geared to help both members of NIFS and non-members complete their 5K or half marathon. Program participants are given a specific 14-week training program to follow, which will prepare you for the Mini, the Geist Half Marathon, or the Carmel Half Marathon or a combination of the races. The program is for people of all levels: walkers, joggers, and runners!

Each Wednesday night during the 14-week program, runners will complete their long-distance run with a group. There will be pace groups to help you stay on track for your goal time. Recovery snacks and drinks are provided at the end of each Wednesday training session.

REGISTER NOW! for the 2016 NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program. We would love to have you join us!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running marathon training resolutions mini marathon half marathon goals

Preparing for Cold-Weather Running

Okay, I know it’s not something we really want to talk, about but let’s face it: the Drumstick Dash and other holiday races are coming up, and I have a feeling it won’t be sunny and 85! I found some good tips on Runner’s World that I wanted to pass along about preparing to run in the cold. Hopefully some of these help as you join the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas races!

  • Arm your feet. Wear shoes with the least amount of mesh material. If you have GORE-TEX shoes, that should be your first pick. Wool socks are a must, and cover your feet with plastic bags if necessary.
  • Dress right. You want to make sure you stay warm, but not so warm that you sweat a lot and get a chill. Layers are important, and gloves and a hat are vital to keep those digits protected from the cold.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing. With it being so dark early in the evenings now, or if you run in the morning, wearing bright colors or a vest to stand out is a great idea. Also, if you are running in the dark, you may want to wear a headlamp or take a flashlight with you.
  • Warm up. The cold doesn’t feel so cold if you are warm when you go out.
  • Run into the wind first. If you have to run into the wind (I know, for some reason it always feels like you’re running into the wind!), get that done first so that when you are sweating, it doesn’t give you a chill.
  • Move past the speed. Cold-weather running isn’t usually for speed work; it’s a time for maintenance work.
  • Change clothes quickly post-run. Be sure to bring extra clothes and change as soon as you are done. Even if you plan to just jump into the car and go, get changed so you don’t get sick.
  • For more tips on dressing for winter running, see this NIFS blog post.

The 500 Festival Mini Marathon and Geist Marathon are just around the corner! Now is the time to plan your training program.

REGISTER NOW and take advantage of our Early bird pricing until 11/22/15 and you could win free training!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness running marathon training outdoors winter

Endurance or Speed? Two Common Goals for Running

For years people have been running in marathons and half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. And most recently the wide world of racing has taken a turn for themed runs, which is quite exciting if you have ever been to one! But no matter how many years go by, two goals continue to come up: running farther, and running faster.

We often hear someone say, “I want to be able to run farther than I did before.” We see it all the time: “I am going from the couch to running a 5K,” or “Last year I completed the 10K, so this year I really want to try the half marathon!” The other thing we hear is, “I like the distance that I am running, but next time I want to cut off 10 minutes.” The goal is to keep going faster and breaking a personal record. But which one is better—which goal should we strive to accomplish?

There are hundreds of programs out there that help you with one of the two goals: programs that are designed to help you increase your distance over time, or programs that are designed to keep your distance but increase your pace. And the good news is that both types work for different people.

Kris Berg, an exercise physiologist and professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, says that after several decades of studying how an athlete can increase their endurance, he continues to lean on the profound answer of “The person needs to do what feels right for them.” Every person is made up differently genetically, and every method works differently for each person. It’s important to listen to what your body says, and if you can’t go farther, work on going faster, and if you can’t go faster, work on going farther!

Let’s take a look at each of the two common goals more in depth. 

Common goal #1: Being able to build endurance and go farther over time. 

The first and most important thing to keep in mind with any sort of training (and not just endurance running) is that adaptation and change are gradual. You will not be able to run 3 miles today and 16 miles tomorrow. Building gradually is vital to grasp before you set an overall goal, which must be realistic. Gradual adaptation means gradual, patient, and consistent. 

Another trick to being able to run long distances is to not start off too fast. Many people don’t make the distance they want because they are running at a pace that they cannot sustain. Find a pace that works for you! 

One other vital point to make when working on building your endurance: don’t overtrain. In most marathon training programs and endurance building programs out there, you will not see more than three days worth of running per week. You need to allow your body time to rest between runs.

Common goal #2: Working on speed to shave off some time from your last race. 

Disclaimer: working on speed is hard; be prepared to be mentally tough and stick to the workouts. When working on speed you will want to focus on some interval workouts. These are workouts that you are pushing at a fast pace for a certain period of time, then slowing down to recover before the next interval starts. 

And a final tip: If you want to run faster, you need to make your legs stronger. By doing some strength training and building up muscle mass, your speed will increase.

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So whatever your goal may be for your next race, keep these things in mind. A great way to help train to meet your goal is with our Mini-Marathon & 5K Training Program offered at NIFS. REGISTER NOW and take advantage of Early bird pricing until 11/22/15.

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

 

Topics: NIFS running marathon training mini marathon half marathon endurance overtraining goals speed

Jack Taylor: NIFS Fall Marathon Training Program Participant

I wanted to take some time to highlight NIFS member Jack Taylor. He has been a member of NIFS in both the corporate fitness and fitness center side of things for the past three years. I have gotten to know Jack through the fall Half and Full Marathon Training Program. (He is training to run the Monumental Half Marathon, which will take place on November 7 here in Indianapolis.) He has a pretty cool story, which he shares with us here.

How did you initially get started with running?

I learned early in high school that I was more of a distance runner than a sprinter. While in the military, I identified running as one of my strong suits. During college I found that running casually was challenging, effective, and relatively inexpensive. I was in the Army/National Guard for 25+ years. Running helped me maintain a necessary level of fitness for whatever I was involved in.

What is your story? Tell me a little bit about yourself and your health story.

I had participated for about 13 years with Ken Long and Associates’ spring Bricks To Bricks Mini-Marathon Training Program, as well as Ken’s Fall Half-Full Marathon training programs. Tom Hathaway was the longtime and beloved coach. In spring 2009 I had ran one of my more respectable mini-marathons. By the next year, I felt like I was in the same degree of fitness, but my time had fallen by about 15 minutes. I couldn’t really explain it. 

By that fall, I had been experiencing a variety of minor ailments, such as plantar fasciitis, peculiar twitching in my legs, and other nerve pains and sensations. Near the end of the Monumental Half Marathon the muscle in my right leg began twitching and contracting violently. I did finish the race. I subsequently saw several sports physicians and specialists with the Franciscan St. Francis Health Network. I was treated for plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, arthritis, etc. I had CT scans, MRIs, and many X-rays.  

At one point I was told by my sports physician that I was doing great and could return to running after some physical therapy. By that time, the twitching in my legs continued, and I noticed that I progressively could not lift my leg quite as high as normal. The inability to lift my leg gradually got worse. One specialist told me that I must have a weak hip flexor, but I was somewhat skeptical. I completed the physical therapy and began running again. 

Not long after, I noticed while running gingerly trying to increase my stamina and mileage that every so often, I would uncontrollably drag the toe of one foot; I had no ability to control it. One day, in the spring of 2011 at the finish of a three-mile run, I dragged the toe again and fell suddenly flat on my face, badly bruising my nose and both eyes. At that point I knew I had to do something else, so I went back to my primary physician in another health network and basically started all over again.   

For the next several months I went through more and more tests, and my balance and physical stability got progressively worse, which led to many frequent falls. The symptoms were very similar to neuropathy, such as damage to nerves in my feet and legs and difficulty controlling bodily functions. I began to experience symptoms of paralysis in my left leg as well. This got progressively worse until I had to walk with a quad-cane—basically dragging my left leg and foot as I went along my way. I had to manually lift my left leg with my hands to negotiate curbs or steps. I also experienced general muscle weakness in different parts of my body to varying degrees.  

It wasn’t until late 2011 that the neurologist had ruled nearly everything else out and was able to order an MRI of the thoracic region of my back. That was the ticket. It was evident right away that I had a large tumor on my spinal cord inside the vertebrate. The tumor was the size of a lime. The tumor was crushing my spinal cord flat, and my doctor advised that the tumor had likely been growing for 10 to 15 years. 

I had surgery to remove the tumor in January 2012 and had to undergo weeks of inpatient physical and occupational therapy as well as continued outpatient surgery. The neurosurgeon advised that I might never recover from all the nerve damage, and I would be lucky to walk normally ever again. While he said it was possible, he didn’t give me a lot of encouragement about running again.  

Since early 2013, I’ve been working to regain my strength and balance in all aspects. I didn’t start running a lot until I joined the NIFS mini-marathon training program in 2014. Because I wasn’t very confident about how I would progress, I didn’t even consider running the mini-marathon in 2014 because I didn’t have a clue how my progress would transpire in the training program. I did finish the program and completed the group 12-mile run. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but it was at that time for me. 

I joined the NIFS mini-marathon training program again in 2015 and finished the mini. That brings me up to date now that I’m attempting the NIFS half-full marathon training program.

How many half and full marathons have you completed?

I’ve truly lost count. I’ve run 30+ half marathons and 2 marathons. I’ve run countless races, from 5Ks to 10 milers.

And what inspires you to keep running?

While it is a lot harder than when I was younger, it helps me maintain an acceptable weight level while allowing me to eat most of what I like.

Thanks for taking the time to meet Jack! What a great story and an inspiration to keep going. Good luck in your next race, Jack!

 Cross the finish line with us this Spring! The 25th Annual Mini Marathon & 5K Training Program starts January 27–May 9, 2016. Training is at 6pm at NIFS downtown. Register today online!

 

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS running marathon training mini marathon half marathon NIFS programs

What’s in Your Luggage?: The Best Traveling Fitness Tools

It’s summertime which is usually synonymous with vacations and miles of traveling. Summertime travels have been some of the best times of my life! The weather is great, there are so many things to do, the sun is out, and it’s time to relax and have some well-deserved FUN.

But it can be somewhat difficult to continue your regimen while on the road. Hotel gyms are not always the best (although most will get the job done in a crunch), you are staying in a rented home or cottage that does not include a fitness facility, and day passes to the local gym can play havoc with your vacation budget. If you are anything like me, you want do something quick but effective so you can get back to what the trip was intended for: RELAXING. So what are you to do?

Planning to stay active during your travels doesn’t have to be a huge challenge. To help you plan to stay on track in your fitness, no matter the environment, I put together a list of great tools that travel really well. So when you are packing all the clothes you probably will never wear (I am the worst about that) and your sunscreen, leave a little extra room for a few of these great tools that stow easily and will keep you moving toward your desired outcomes.fitness-travel

TRX

There is a reason the company that manufactures the very popular TRX is named Fitness Anywhere. The TRX can go and be used anywhere. From hanging the suspension trainer off your hotel door, to getting outside and securing it to a tree, the TRX is ready to go in a matter of seconds. The TRX is really your travel gym because most resisted movements you can think of that you perform in the gym can be done using the TRX. Not sold yet? The TRX rolls up into a super-small bag that won’t take up much room in your luggage or even your carry-on.

Resistance Band

Just like the TRX, the resistance band will add load to any movement and will take up no space in your bag. The band also provides many unique movements as well as tension throughout the entire range of motion. This equals big resistance in a small package.

Tennis/Lacrosse Ball

You have heard me speak about recovery many times before as being a huge part of your training program. A great time to spend some time recovering is when you are on vacation. Pack a tennis or lacrosse ball, or even a small foam roller to take care of your soft tissue rehab needs. Remember, the results from your program happen during recovery, so use this time to reap the benefits.

Val Slides

Also known as furniture movers, Val Slides are a great tool to add a little more oomph to your body weight exercise. With hundreds of ways to utilize these sliders to create a major metabolic and strength effect, they are a great choice to throw in your luggage. By the way, they weigh only a few ounces and are super flat, ensuring that they won’t send your suitcase over the weight limit.

Kettlebell

The kettlebell travels best if you are driving to your destination, not flying. But if you are choosing the automobile route for your vacation, the bell will fit very nicely in the trunk. I can’t even start to cover the multitude of movements that can be accomplished with the kettlebell. For those of you participating in Small Group Training or our HIT program, you’ve witnessed what a single kettlebell workout can look and feel like. The kettlebell is a very effective, very quick, and very easy tool to travel with. Grab one and throw it in the car—you will thank me for it!

These lists of workout tools is by no means exhaustive, but are the ones that I think provide the most impact while taking up the least amount of space. There is a tool I didn’t mention above, but can be the best tool of all and that is a pair of walking shoes. No matter the place, time, and who you are with, you can always go for a stroll. Enjoy your summer. You’ve worked all winter for it.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, Health Fitness Specialist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness running walking group training resistance kettlebell workout TRX recovery traveling