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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Holiday Fitness: Equipment That Fits in Your Suitcase

GettyImages-533342462’Tis the season for holiday traveling, holiday parties, not having as much time to hit the gym, and eating more calories than are in your average diet. Spending time with family and friends is so important over the holiday season, but taking care of your health and fitness is just as important.

The key to this success is making exercise a priority. A few ways to do that are by committing to workout programs, scheduling in your workout times, committing to a fitness goal, and maybe even purchasing a few fitness essentials that fit in your suitcase to use conveniently when you are traveling.

Suitcase Equipment Essentials and Exercise Guide

Resistance Bands (average price $3–$8)

You probably have used a resistance band in your Small Group Training, Barre Fusion, or Circuit Training classes, or seen them being used by others in the gym. Versa Loops are a great tool to take with you during the holidays. These bands are very cost-effective and weigh almost nothing, nor take up much space.

A NIFS Fitness Center staff member can help you create an on-the-go workout plan using the band. Stop by and see an instructor for quick and effective band workouts.

The key to success is taking action. Just because you buy a mini versa band does not mean you will stay in shape like magic if it sits in your suitcase. Take time to schedule 20 to 30 minutes a few times a week to break a sweat and work on stability, mobility, and core strength with this amazing fitness tool.

Jump Rope (average price $10–$12)

Jumping rope is a great addition to a gym workout to get your heart rate up, but is also a great piece of equipment that you can easily add to your suitcase to torch calories anywhere and at any time. You can burn up to 10 calories a minute jumping rope. Pulling this piece of equipment out of your suitcase can definitely balance out the extra calories you consume during the holiday. Do it for 10 to 15 minutes straight for an endurance workout, or combine it with body resistance toning exercises for a great go-to HIIT workout.

TRX (average price $70–$130)

TRX is a great piece of fitness equipment that you can pack up to go anywhere. At moderate intensity, someone might burn up to 250 calories during a one-hour training session. TRX straps are light and easy to take anywhere. When you’re in town, taking classes at NIFS is a great way to learn proper form and new moves, but this equipment can be hung in door frames or places around the house to also get in a great sweat and total-body workout.

Running Shoes (average price $60–$150)

Running is a free, very effective workout that is great for burning calories. If you don’t have a pair of running shoes already, they can come at a price but make a great investment for staying accountable to keeping weight off over the holiday season (if you pack them in your bag and use them). If you are healthy enough for running, grab some shoes and hit the pavement or indoor track here at NIFS.

Some Other Holiday Wellness Tips

In addition to this equipment you can easily use to help stay fit over the holidays, don’t forget about the importance of diet.

  • Remember portions. Overeating is very easy to do at holiday functions, so set your mind to eating for results. This means practicing portion control and not overloading your plate or having too much sugar and alcohol. Keep on a balanced diet through your normal lifestyle and allow yourself a little extra only on special occasions.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no” in the office. Just because a co-worker brings in a treat, does not mean you have to have all the holiday cookies and cupcakes. Maybe commit to having one a week even if someone brings in something new daily.
  • Have an accountability buddy. Find someone you trust and who also wants to stay healthy over the holiday season. Make goals together—like working out 4 to 5 times each week, or eating only one holiday dessert a week—that you commit to and achieve together so you don’t feel like you’re doing it alone!

Holidays are a great time to have fun, so enjoy doing everything you love like spending time with friends and family while also living a healthy lifestyle.

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and NIFS Fitness Program Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: holidays traveling equipment fitness equipment accountability portion control resistance TRX running

She Said She Could, SO SHE DID!: From Novice to Marathoner to Coach

“She said she could, SO SHE DID.”

These were the words in the back of my brain as I journeyed to my third marathon finish line, crossing it on November 3, 2018, with a newfound respect for the sport.

The Inspiration

In 2009 as a 16-year-old high school girl, I heard some words from my mom I never wanted to hear, not just from her but from anyone: “I have breast cancer.” These words changed my life. I immediately became fearful of losing my mom, and in my moments of needing time to breathe and destress I turned to running. Running became my time to forget everything going on around me, and enjoy the beauty of nature and fresh air. It became my time to fully take advantage of these things, realizing at any moment in our life they could potentially be taken away. My mom survived two cancers, and to this day still wakes up getting to enjoy those beautiful things as well as her family and friends who helped her fight through her tough times.

The Journey Begins

Marathon 1- DC

After discovering this new love for running and fitness, I wanted to dive deeper into it. As a kinesiology major at Indiana University in 2011, I took on a part-time job at the IU Student Recreational Center, where I began teaching running group fitness classes called “Trekking.” These classes were 30–45-minute runs that everyone could participate in at their own pace, and motivated people to get in their general health cardio recommendations through walking/running. I fell in love with the sport even more after this. During my college years, I also began hanging out with friends who enjoyed running as their go-to for general fitness too, and we turned our passion into weekend fun by participating in 5K races.

The Next Level

Marathon 2-ChiIn 2014, I moved to NYC where I was going to pursue my passion for fitness in the fitness capital of the world. I was surrounded by some of the top fitness professionals and eager to learn more and more every day. In addition to this new lifestyle also came new stress. I turned to running again, and in one of the best parks you can run in, NYC’s Central Park. Weekends were filled with seeing long-distance endurance athletes racing. Novembers were filled with spectating one of the biggest marathons in the U.S. right outside my Upper East Side apartment: the New York City Marathon. I was inspired! In addition to my running solo, I also began taking classes at Barry’s Bootcamp from top trainers, including Nike Trainer Ashley Wilking, and hanging out with Jessica Woods, a Nike Run Coach and Ultra Marathoner herself. In February 2016, I ran my first marathon in Washington, D.C., where I completed with a goal in mind of under 4 hours, and finished at 3:54.

This “runner’s high” was real. I immediately signed up for half-marathons and started training harder, and in October 2016 ran my second half-marathon for a breast cancer charity in Chicago, and set a personal record at a pace of 3:48. I was shocked by what the power of my body could do. But then I burned out after completing two marathons, two half-marathons, and endless hours of intense training through 2016.

A New Journey

After teaching thousands of fitness classes and achieving personal fitness goals, I was ready for my next journey to learn the business side of fitness. I took 2017 and half of 2018 to recover my body physically, and gain strengths in two new areas of my life: mindfulness (Strength Through Stillness) and business.

In that time, I experienced management in two different types of fitness setting, boutique fitness and the standard gym setting. I also began tuning into meditation daily, and focusing on the strength in my mind I had been experiencing while running. I was ready to sit in stillness and challenge myself in a new way.

My Mindful Marathon Experience

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 11.42.16 AMOn August 15, 2018, I took on the role of coach for the NIFS Monumental Half/Full Marathon Training Program. Day 1, one of the participants told me he had just started running, and wanted to complete a marathon. He was one of two participants to sign up for the Full Training Program, and one of the only runners who had never participated in a running event before, including 5Ks or shorter-distance races. But he was determined to go the full 26.2 miles, and I was ready to coach him every step of the way. My knowledge from past experiences and mindfulness was the approach I took into this training and journey to get him to the finish line. When times got tough, I reminded myself of my 12-week goal motto “She believed she could, so she did.”

Nestor crossed the finish line and is now a marathoner. My passion for running now holds a new place in my heart as I experienced coaching someone to achieve an amazing goal. I will never forget seeing him run through the finish line with the biggest smile as tears of happiness came running down my face, and getting the biggest hug of happiness every coach hopes for.

Mini_logo_2019_smallInterested in training for the Mini? NIFS Mini Marathon & 5K training program registration is now open!

REGISTER TODAY!

This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running goals marathon training half marathon mindfulness nifs staff

Overcoming Life Challenges with Fitness: You Don’t Forget the Hills

IMG_2506Fitness is a great tool to use to train the mind. Yes, often people work out for physical health, but exercise is also getting a lot of hype from psychologists. Many studies are proving that exercise and movement increase brain function, memory, and thinking skills. Not just that; the motivation, positivity, and strength learned and gained from an exercise session can all be used in daily life situations. 

I began doing yoga and running in 2009 as a way to de-stress when my mother was ill with cancer. At the time, I never knew that the real-world challenges I was going through would turn into my passion and lead me to my full-time career. I can honestly say that the motivational lesson of learning through sweat sessions helped me overcome daily life challenges and inspired to me share that with others.

From Yoga to Real Life

Yoga taught me to breathe. Breathing is a necessary human function, but one of the hardest things to do in a challenging situation. Learning breathing and mindfulness on my yoga mat taught me how to take it into my daily life. If I’m facing a challenge, it probably means I need to slow down, breathe, and evaluate what needs to be done.

Running taught me that there are days you are tired, sore, and don’t want to do something, but showing up and doing it will always feel better. My mom’s motivation to wake up every day on her weakest, saddest, and scariest days helped inspire me along my fitness journey to be fearless and “Just Do It™.”

As I began doing yoga and running, I fell so in love and developed such a deep passion for these things that I wanted to continue to learn about them. I got my 200 Hour yoga certification in 2014. I never knew that it would turn into a full-time career in NYC where I was inspiring packed rooms and training celebrities. That sounds great and glamorous, and honestly it was, but again yoga really just taught me to breathe and open my mind. I realized that going to New York was running away from dealing with my past. I was ready to face it again. New York is a stressful environment. I was keeping up just fine, but was pushing out family because I was “too busy training Victoria’s Secret models,” although I knew the real reason was fear and not fully living out what I was learning.

Letting go of ego is another lesson I learned on my yoga mat, and I knew that I could find balance between family and doing what I loved if I took some deep breaths, tuned in, and followed my head and heart at the same time. After three years in the Big Apple, I decided to live out my fitness and move back home to build my family bond and let go of anything from my past that challenged me, just as I had been doing for years in the gym.

From Running Away to Running Home

Along with my personal training success came my “glory days” of running. I was a runner because I loved how it felt. I had no clue I would one weekend wake up and call a friend asking whether I could run a marathon in her city the following weekend, and then show up and actually complete it. Well I did. And I don’t remember much about that race except a few things—the times I was challenged the most. My first challenge came at mile 6, my first hill. I remember that thing looking like a mountain. The second thing I remember was turning to my family in my time of need. At mile 13.1, I called my dad, crying:

“What am I doing? Should I just run a half marathon today?”

He responded with, “Just take a deep breath.” Well, at that moment my heart might have felt like it was going to burst out of my chest, and my mind was in a negative state underestimating my strength, but that connection and reminder to take a deep breath and tune in to my ultimate goal helped me complete 26.2 miles that day, and with the biggest smile on my face. I now coach others in running, and in the challenging times I bring out some of the lessons I learned to teach and inspire them, letting them know that I get it and understand because I’ve been in that headspace too. But I also remind them that this is no challenge you can’t overcome if you just take a deep breath and tune in. I also like reminding people that if 30-second fitness challenges or hills are the hardest struggles in their day, week, or life, they are pretty lucky!

At-Home Exercise Your Mind

So, here’s your chance to exercise your mind:

  • What has challenged you in the gym?
  • What did you do about it?
  • What words of encouragement helped you overcome it?
  • What was the feeling of overcoming challenge?

Now take that into your daily life. What is challenging you, and can you breathe and stay positive through that situation?

“JUST DO IT ™” —Gary Gilmore

Just Do It is a trademark of shoe company Nike.

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: running yoga fitness stress emotional attitude marathon

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Running Shouldn’t Be Painful

GettyImages-958722754Running a marathon can be a very positive, rewarding experience or a very painful, negative one. THE CHOICE IS YOURS!

How I Got Started with Marathons

I began running as a feel-good stress release in 2009, but never knew that stress release would turn into my stressor. After my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I turned to running at times to just get away from my daily life for a few moments and enjoy some fresh air and a good sweat. I loved this workout a few times a week.

In 2016, I was ready to set a goal. I signed up for my first half marathon, but forgot to sign up for a training plan to go with it. As my mind was set to long distances to achieve my goal, I began running more and more. Before I even completed my half marathon, I realized I was ready to do a full marathon, so I signed up spontaneously to run 26.2 miles and completed my first marathon in Washington, D.C., in February 2016. Two months later, I crossed the finish line of a half marathon, which was my original goal.

If you were to ask me how I felt about my experience, I'd honestly tell you: painful, awful, and sore. Thankfully I didn't get any injures, but like most runners, I ran a lot and neglected cross training, because I preferred the “runner's high.”

Why I Quit

I continued this training process through 2016, and by the end of that year I was done and burnt out. My body was depleted of important nutrients, my muscles were constantly sore from neglecting proper recovery, and I never knew how much mental tension I had been putting myself through by pushing my body to get what I thought was "faster and stronger."

In 2017, my running for hours had now turned into recovering for hours. I picked up a consistent yoga practice, started meditation classes, was visiting a doctor to replenish my depleted body, focused on strength with pilates and circuit training classes, and was only doing low-impact cardio. 

How I Got Back into Running—the Right Way

As I began stressing out my body less, my passion for running was still in the back of my mind. In 2018, I began running long distances again, but with newly gained knowledge of proper fuel, proper recovery, and proper cross training. It's so weird waking up not sore after a long run, or enjoying friends and family instead of wanting to sleep all the time due to fatigue, and I love it!

Practicing mindfulness is so important when setting a big goal. In society, we often want to get to the reward faster instead of enjoying the process in the present. Attempting to run a half or full marathon does not have to be a painful experience. Running a half or full marathon does not have to result in injury and burnout. The choice is yours!

Tips for Running

  • Follow your training plan. As endurance picks up, so does your ego as a runner. When you get a short run, just do it and enjoy it! There will be plenty of long runs you can save your energy for to reduce burnout and achieve success.
  • Warm up. Our bodies are not meant to go from 0 to 100 percent effort for extended periods of time, which is a common mistake by runners that leads to injury. Spend time prepping your muscles and your mind for success. If you remember that your goal is to get to the finish line, you'll remember to warm up so you can get there pain free.
  • Cool down. Just as we aren't supposed to go from 0 to 100, 100 to 0 is just as harmful. Allow yourself time to deep-breathe and restore your muscles. When running for distance, the blood starts to pool toward your legs. Doing yoga or total-body corrective exercises and stretching will help reduce injury by properly recirculating blood to aid in healing muscles.
  • Cross train. Running is a cardio-based exercise that requires strength. If you only run, you are often getting weaker because you are burning off the muscles that will support you. Adding two to three strength-only days is crucial for not just the muscles’ health, but also the health of your joints and bones.
  • Know your limit. Be okay with accepting that you accomplished something amazing! If it's a hot day and your plan is to run 5 miles, but you can go only 3, that’s okay! Over-stressing the body can lead to many health consequences. Loving your body’s health as first priority will keep you injury free and a well-oiled machine.

So, don’t be afraid if your goal is to run a half or full marathon. Train with the people who have experienced the not-fun, painful part of running and want it to be filled with fun based on knowledge and past experience. The choice is yours to set your goals. The choice is yours to listen and follow your coach to achieve those goals.

Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 2.45.21 PMNIFS Fall Marathon Training Program prepares you for the Monumental Marathon on November 3, 2018 by providing you with a 12-week training program and weekly long runs with a training coach. Training starts August 15th-November 3rd. Wednesdays 6am OR 6pm and Saturdays at 7am. Find out more and get registered today!

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running half marathon marathon training mindfulness injuries pain goal setting

Get Fit While Helping Others: Fitness Fundraising Events

GettyImages-616006792It’s staggering how many people in the world are affected directly and indirectly by health problems. You might not have an incurable disease, but there is a chance that someone you love does. Sometimes there are medications and treatments for these conditions, but not everyone receives the attention they need. Sometimes there are no medications. Fortunately, people have organized charitable foundations that help find cures, medicines, and other aid for those in need.

Events for Raising Awareness and Money

In the fitness and wellness realm, it’s awesome when those who are trying to help others use fitness activities to help raise awareness and funds for research. In our community alone, there are several organized events that combine fitness and wellness with helping others. You can help yourself by getting exercise while helping others with their situation.

Here are some fundraising events that you might have heard of (and some that you might not have heard of) that incorporate fitness into raising awareness.

  1. Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure: Non-competitive run/walk event dedicated to raising money and awareness for breast cancer as well as honoring those who have or have had breast cancer.
  2. Indiana Tour de Cure: This is a bicycle event centered at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Participants enjoy riding on the actual Speedway track as well as several other courses ranging from 50m to 100m in distance. The purpose is to raise money for diabetes research and help those who have it fight the burdens that come with it.
  3. Fight for Air Climb: There is nothing easy about climbing stairs, especially when you have lung disease or any number of breathing-related issues. Fight for Air Climb is hosted by the American Lung Association and is centered around a strenuous stair climb at your local skyscraper.

If you missed these events, don’t worry; they will be around again soon. There are other events you can participate in that will help you and other people in need. Check out the Around Indy site for more information.

Try a NIFS Training Program

So, as you can see, being fitness minded doesn’t have to end with your third set of 10 on bench press. There are people out there who need support and help to overcome daily strife. NIFS’s staff is knowledgeable about events and can help you train for any event you are planning to take on. Help yourself and help everyone else by participating in one of these fitness events.

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the other NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: Thomas' Corner NIFS programs small group training running cardio fundraising

You Got Shoe Game? Choosing the Right Athletic Shoes for Your Workout

GettyImages-905973914Believe it or not, shoes do serve a higher purpose than just to make a fashion statement—especially when you’re choosing shoes to wear to the gym. Now, my first example is rather obvious, but it gets the point across. Would you ever enter the gym for a workout wearing high heels? That’s for you to answer, but there are safety issues that arise from wearing stilettos to the gym. More specifically, footwear is of concern if any of the big lifts such as squatting, running, jumping, and weightlifting are programmed into your workout.

Let’s start by laying the ground rules. Given that your footwear is the avenue by which you gain momentum necessary for movement, it is extremely important to be conscious of your goals, your workout, and your footwear. After all, the only object in contact with the floor is your shoes! A wide variety of shoes are made for different surfaces and sports; however, they fall into three basic categories: performance footwear, running footwear, and cross-training footwear. Let’s take a deeper look at each specific type of athletic shoes.

Performance Footwear

First, the broadest category of shoes is performance footwear. This includes shoes engineered for nearly every specific sport, indoors or outdoors. Each shoe is carefully designed for specificity of sport as well as durability of surface, especially at the elite and professional level. A good example is basketball shoes, which are usually high-tops to help prevent ankle sprains. Soccer cleats, track spikes, football and softball cleats, and others all have spikes that can dig into the playing surface to make cuts sharper and aid in injury prevention.

Other specific shoes occasionally seen in a gym setting are powerlifting shoes and Olympic lifting shoes. Powerlifting shoes are low and flat, with a solid sole that is good for deadlifts because it puts you closer to the floor. It also allows you to push through the whole foot throughout the entire lift. Conversely, Olympic lifting shoes are made with a slight heel to allow athletes better mobility during lifts such as a squat and snatch, where lack of mobility would decrease performance drastically. They are also designed with a solid surface for the sole, tailored to the demands of the sport.

Running Footwear

The next type is the running shoe. Keep in mind that not one foot is the same size or shape, perhaps not even your other foot. Therefore, sizing can be difficult.

A standard running shoe tends to be manufactured with more cushion than other shoes, which in turn allows for less force on the hip and knee joints when running. The shoe design should offer sufficient traction needed to grip the surface and optimum weight distribution in order to ensure safety. They are ergonomically designed to absorb the ground-force reaction when the mid-foot strikes the ground, instead of sending the shockwave up the shin to the leg, commonly known to cause shinsplints.

Cross-training Footwear

Last is the training shoe, also known as the cross-trainer. This shoe is the most versatile of the three and can be used for small amounts of running, jumping, and lifting, but is mainly used to do lateral movement as well as plyometric workouts. Because the shoe is primarily a lower shoe with good support, it is made so you cannot easily roll your ankle or twist your knee when planting your foot into the ground to change direction as quickly as possible.

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Choosing the right equipment for your workout is very important, so know the different types of shoes and choose the ones that are best for the activity that you will be doing.

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This blog was written by Cara Hartman, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: equipment shoes powerlifting running sports workout cross-training footwear

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 2018 your year to scratch that off the list. There are training programs out there: get one, follow it, and finish that race!

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 2.55.53 PM-1ATTENTION WOMEN: If you are interested in completing the 2018 Go Girl Triathlon at Eagle Creek, we have a triathlon training program at NIFS!

Early Bird Registration is happening now! Sign up before May 31st 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 NIFS NIFS programs training group training women

You Can Do It! NIFS Training Helps You Meet Your Goals (Part 2 of 2)

IMG_9434Following on from part 1 of this blog, where I talked about goals, there are few fitness achievements that are more impressive than completing a triathlon. The combination of running, swimming, and biking along with power, endurance, perseverance, and attitude are imposing, especially for those who have never completed one before. The traditional Ironman races are comprised of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run for a grand total of 140.6 miles.

The Event Takes Many Forms

You can’t wake up today, without training, and begin to dream of the goal of finishing such an event. Most people will never complete a true Ironman triathlon in this form, but there is hope. Through the vision of great-minded individuals, we have a multitude of triathlon options that tinker with the original chemistry to create some equally impressive challenges for all levels. There are indoor versions that are held in the friendly confines of a gym (usually with a pool); there are sprint triathlons that modify the distances to a 5,000-meter run, 250-meter swim, and 14-mile bike ride. Notably, NIFS has been involved with a women-only triathlon called the Go Girl, the Indianapolis event of which is held at Eagle Creek Park. With so many options available (more will surely surface), there is hope for our triathlon aspirations after all!

Why Would Anyone Want to Do a Triathlon?

IMG_9583

Why would you ever want to do a triathlon in the first place? Kris Simpson, a personal trainer and triathlon coach at NIFS believes, “It is great cross-training” and “it can test your mental toughness by getting out of your comfort zone, especially if you have been traditionally a single-sport athlete.” With that being said, getting into a structured training regimen with focused end goals might be just what you need to awaken your inner athlete and competitive drive.

According to another triathlon finisher, Kaci Lierman, competing the tri event is a monumental occasion. Hours of hard work cumulate in that moment when you step across the finish line and take a deep sigh of relief. A sense of accomplishment, wholeness, and pride overtake you. You can stop there if you like, but the endorphins from the actual high are so great, you might want to do it again and again.

NIFS Training for Triathlons 

How does one train for a triathlon event? You could train on your own, but with so many small details (think transition training, bike maintenance, and clothing management), it’s beneficial to seek guidance from a seasoned professional. NIFS offers such training, catering to beginners who are new to the event, as well as triathlon veterans trying to get personal bests.

NIFS group training currently includes the Go Girl Triathlon Training Program. Women who are interested in the training program can contact Kris Simpson at ksimpson@nifs.org for more details regarding times, dates, and signup deadlines. Don’t limit yourself to traditional triathlons; you can find an event that best suits your abilities, needs, and training module length. The commitment to greatness is huge, but the rewards are even bigger. Dream BIG!

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: triathlon training program group training running swimming biking Go Girl triathlon Thomas' Corner

What to Eat: Nutrition Before a Long Run or Workout

GettyImages-627524836.jpgYour body needs fuel! When you are planning to do a run or a workout that is longer than an hour, the way to ensure that you have enough energy to get through it is to make sure you are eating the proper combination of foods beforehand for endurance. This is tricky, though, because you want to make sure what you are eating doesn’t upset your stomach during the workout. Here are some suggestions to get you through the workout with the right nutrition for feeling great.

Tips for Eating Before a Workout

The most important thing is to eat something that is familiar. You never want to try something new on race day or competition day. The old saying “practice makes perfect” will help decide what works best for your body.

Aim for a meal that has an easily digestible carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of 3:1. Typically you want something that is lower in fiber and not high in saturated or bad-for-you fats.

For most people, eating around 2 hours prior to running is ideal; but some people have found they can tolerate food 30 minutes before a workout, especially if you are doing the run first thing in the morning. If that is the case, something smaller might be best. Make sure to have a snack before bed that has a combination of carbs and protein (such as cheese and crackers, a yogurt parfait, or fruit and nuts).

Pre-workout Meal Ideas

These are suggestions that you can try to come up with your body’s perfect pre-workout meal depending on the time of day you are completing it.

  • 1–2 slices of wheat toast or an English muffin with peanut butter
  • Cup of Greek yogurt with berries
  • Cup of oatmeal with fruit and nuts
  • Banana with almond butter
  • Half a bagel with an egg and cheese
  • Turkey sandwich with a slice of cheese
  • Pita pocket with homemade tuna salad
  • Cup of quinoa with veggies mixed in
  • Cup of whole-wheat pasta with meat sauce
  • Cup of brown rice with chicken and veggies

Start practicing with some of these suggestions or with other meals or snacks that sound good to you that meet the 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio so you are ready to tackle those long runs and workouts.

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

Topics: nutrition running endurance workouts protein carbs snacks

NIFS Personal Trainer Takes on a Triathlon Challenge (Part 3)

IMG_9672.jpgWe have followed NIFS trainer Crystal Anne Belen throughout her triathlon training program experience (see part 1 and part 2). It’s finally time for the race, the moment the entire group has been waiting for and anticipating for the past 2½ months. Let’s hear from Crystal about her experience!

It’s the week of the race and training is complete. A lot of preparation has happened over the last 10 weeks. The hard part is over. Hydrating, breathing drills, staying healthy, visualization, staying positive, and relaxing were my areas of focus. By the end of training, I was feeling confident with my transitions and prepared for the race.

Goal: 500m Swim, 10-Mile Bike, 3-Mile Run

At the start of the race, I felt the excitement in the atmosphere! Almost 400 athletes were there to compete, and everyone had worked so hard for this moment. From my perspective, the distance didn’t look that far to swim in the open water. As I stood there waiting for my time to enter the reservoir, I was determined to conquer it, and there wasn’t anything that was going to stop me. However, the swim turned out a lot harder than I expected. I unfortunately found myself going kayak-to-kayak, needing assistance, and eventually met George, a gentleman who stuck with me as far as I could go. He encouraged me as I went along and said that he was there for me whenever I needed him. No matter how long it was going to take me, I was determined to finish the swimming portion.

I swam about halfway through the 500m, and there came a point where I was taking too long in the water and was told that I had to be picked up in the boat to catch up with the rest of the swimmers. Along with a few other ladies, sitting in the boat in tears, I was disappointed in myself. The official who picked us up offered that if we wanted to swim the last 50m, we could get back in. I wasn’t about to end the swim in total defeat, so I got back in the water and swam the rest of the way in.

The Ride

While I thought that the obstacles were over for me, the bike portion of the race brought even more roadblocks. I started off with a nice, quick transition to begin the ride. Determined to make up some time from the swim and knowing that I couldn't let the swim get to me, I came upon the first hill of the race and ended up running into a problem immediately. As I shifted gears, my chain came off my bike and I ended up having to pull off the road to put my chain back on.

After getting my chain back on, I rode for the next 6 miles, passing a few ladies, but then another unexpected mishap took place. As I shifted gears on another hill, my bike came to an abrupt stop. Emotionally done, I had had enough, and the disappointment of all the training I did for nothing was overwhelming. Another gentleman came and asked if I needed any help. He tried to see what was wrong with it, spent a few minutes looking at it, and ended up telling me that I was going to have to walk my bike the rest of the race. My derailleur flipped over and would catch in my spindle, not even allowing me to pedal. Beyond frustrated and embarrassed, I wasn’t able to keep the positive mindset I had been working toward, although I was still determined to complete the course. It had to happen.

While walking the rest of the course, an unexpected turn of events took place. I caught up to a woman who was also walking with her bike. I felt so frustrated and defeated but as we began to talk, I was grateful for this time. She said, “I’m sorry to hear about your bike, but I'm thankful that you are walking with me.” In that instant, my mindset completely changed. In the full-throttle of my stress, someone needed my help more.

The next thing I knew, the trainer in me ended up encouraging her to keep persevering. I was no longer thinking about the struggles I was going through. I walked with her the rest of the 3 miles, and she eventually rode back on her bike to complete the remainder of the race. Finishing in last place in the biking portion allowed me to put things in perspective, and I was so thankful that I had the opportunity to help another athlete. I was no longer mad at myself, and I kept telling myself that the only thing left to do was the 3-mile run, my strongest portion of this triathlon.

The Last Leg

Running indeed was my strongest event as I completed the 3 miles without any major incidents and ran the entire way. I finished my run in 28 minutes with an overall race time of 2 hours 12 minutes and 10 seconds.

With the rollercoaster of events that took place, I'm very grateful for accepting the challenge, going through the experience, and stepping outside of my comfort zone, and especially grateful for the people I've met along the way. I’ve learned that there are things that happen in life that you can’t control, things happen in which you have a decision to make, for which your attitude can instantly determine the path that you will travel on. As a trainer, I work with many individuals who go through their own challenge on a daily basis, and this has given me more appreciation and a fresh perspective on the process it takes to overcome a difficult part in your life.

With how I completed the race, I've been asked if I'd do another one. Surprisingly, yes, I would do another one. Knowing what it takes and where I currently stand, I can work to improve. So the journey continues, I am tentatively planning on completing another triathlon on September 30, in Illinois, to write a new chapter in this book.

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This blog was written by Crystal Anne Belen, personal trainer and health fitness instructor at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: triathlon training program running biking swimming nifs staff challenge race