Tuesday, July 31, 2007

See The "P"s - Patience

So, the “P”s? They are Patience, Progression and Perseverance. There is a fourth one I’ll tell you about later.

Patience – This one is very much tied in with “faith”. When we start an exercise program it is normal to be “gung ho” and start with a flourish. This is natural and desirable. However, too often we lose this initial gusto and eventually our exercise fades away to inactivity. The problem is that the changes we are creating with our efforts are often not very dramatic. They happen bit by bit, day by day and are often subtle enough that we become very fit without really noticing changes along the way.

We should actually look at things more like we do when we are planting seeds. We don’t expect to see results right away and, even when the plant comes up we can’t actually see it grow, but we can be pretty sure that, in the end the seed will become a mature plant. Daily exercise will produce results. It’s a given and it’s guaranteed.

This isn’t baseball where if you practice a lot you might be able to hit that home run or an Outhouse Race (see the photo) where, as long as Rick Hamilton doesn’t show up to run for the other team, you might win. We don't have to deal with "might"s or "maybe"s. If you exercise regularly, patiently getting out day by day, you will enjoy the benefits of improved health. Believe it, count on it and well, just do it!

Tomorrow ..... we progress to Progression!

Monday, July 30, 2007

"P"s Please

At Rhonda’s urgings and Debbie’s insistence I am putting hands to keyboard and offering up a few “words to the wise”. I mean that – “to the wise” part – because your interest in personal fitness and starting to exercise is truly a smart decision.

My star pupil, Leah, and I have been running speedwork on the Lake Road. You may have driven by and seen two runners mysteriously running back and forth, back and forth – sometimes faster, sometimes very slowly. This somewhat foolish looking ritual is entirely (and mercifully) unnecessary for fitness runners but is an excellent workout for those trying to improve their running speed. Today we shifted our focus from strength to speed. This means doing fewer fast runs but doing each one five to six seconds faster than we have been. This is a bit of a shock to the system and things can become quite uncomfortable (I prefer that we not use the nastier term, “painful”) but it reminded me of the body’s wonderful ability to adapt to the stresses we put on it – if we do it in a planned and intelligent way. The discomfort will become more bearable; we will increase the number that we do; we will become faster runners as a result.

This often repeated formula reflects and brings me to the four “P”s of running or any exercise plan. These are Rock Solid ideas that have been referred to in many places; they will invariably come true and give results – every time! Check back daily to learn the Four P's and how to make them work for you!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What if " Charlie Horses" never occured

The term Charley Horse is commonly used to describe leg/foot cramping and is also known as a "Billy Mule".[citation needed] "This out-of-the-blue leg cramp is as intense as a kick from a palomino. "You'll be lying in bed or even asleep when you get this terrible knot-usually in the calf but sometimes in the thigh or the arch of your foot," says Steven Subotnick, D.P.M., a sports podiatrist.[3] This type of out of the blue Charley Horse can often be caused by mineral deficiencies, or an electrolyte imbalance.[3]

Last night at 0300 a.m. my REM sleep was shattered by what mom always called a "charlie horse" in not one...but both of my calf muscles. Don't you just hate when that happens!!! I talked to my good friend Nadine ( our resident physiotherapist here at the Albert County Health and wellness Centre) . She said "you went for a run last night didn't you"..." when you run in this heat you need to make sure you are well hydrated, and not just with water because you depleted some electrolytes."
I have had the occasional leg cramp but in the last few months I've noticed that when I wake either through the night and especially in the a.m. my legs are always verging on a dreaded cramp. Never have I had dual leg cramping. So let's hear it for gatorade or whatever you need to replace those electrolytes..you know the whole potassium pump thing we learned about in biology.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Let's all meet at the barn at 9:00p.m.

This note is posted for all of you runners out there who long for motivational commeraderie. I haven't run with other people. Possibly hinging on the fear of running too fast or not being able to keep up. Once I tried to lose Leo Sheehy...partly because I didn't want to admit that I was dying inside. I finally lost him by quickly mumbling " this is where I turn off Leo". A quick sprint behind the bank of Nova Scotia found me doubled up in exhaustion, attempting to regain some sense of respiratory composure while maintaining his perception of my skilled jogging expertise. However, having run last evening with Leah Williams and Scott Steeves, I have been converted from rambo running to conversational bliss. I met them at 9:20 p.m. last night on the Lake road heading towards the golf course. We even picked up two more runners on the way back. I felt like I was living out a scene from Chariots of Fire. When i left my cheerful group an invitation was shouted out that this would be happening every evening at 9:00 p.m. starting at the big barn behind the tourist information centre. I'm going to be there! Join us! ( it feels good to use the personal pronoun us).

What If I'm not as Smart as I Look?

Then I would probably be headed out for my run or walk (again!) without taking along water to drink. Believe me when I say that I learn all my lessons the hard way. But I have learned...and that's the main thing!

With the heat wave upon us, outdoor enthusiasts should pay particular attention to staying properly hydrated. It is VITALLY important to take along water on every outing when temperatures are this high. A hat or visor and sunscreen are also appropriate considerations, as is confining your exercise to the cooler hours of the day and perhaps choosing shady routes.

Drink lots of water before you go, then take frequent water breaks while exercising. When I’m hiking, I usually carry one Gatorade and one water bottle in a fanny pack. And I always take along a small ziplock baggie of Gatorade powder in my pocket to mix with water in case of emergencies. It’s a lifesaver if one becomes light-heated or experiences cramps and nausea (the first signs of heat exhaustion).

For any exercise extending over an hour, one should drink a sports drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes eliminated with excessive sweating. A good dose of sports drink after the exercise will also alleviate charley-horse muscle cramps that sometimes accompany excess sweating and exertion.

A Tangled Garden

Breathe deep. July’s scent is fragrant clover and cinnamon roses, Queen Anne’s lace and fresh mown grass. The unrestrained joy of bloom found in the fields is more beautiful than any structured garden. Great tangled swaths of flaming fireweed and twining purple cows vetch, of dancing white daisies and bobbing brown-eyed susan sprawl outward like multi-coloured lava flows. Along the packed earth of roadsides, blue spires of viper’s bugloss self-seed with abandon.

As the temperature rises I feel sorry for pour sweltering souls in Moncton, while the Bay of Fundy bestows Albert County with cool breezes. An early evening or morning walk or jog through the Shepody marshlands on the NB Trail (Footloose! Trail #3) is as much a delight for the soul as it is for the eyes. Add the silky gleam of a high tide on a clear breathless day and you have unadulterated perfection.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Let's hear it for the parade volunteers

Hillsborough Homecoming Days Parade

We had a great response to Footloose

Okay Albert County...show us your pedometers!

The Parade was fantastic! As we walked by the crowds everyone in the Footloose program would flash their pedometer.

What if this community stopped running to Moncton for everything?

When will we recognize the value of our community? Forget about the Running Room...we have Leo Sheehy and Leah Williams! When I think of the caliber of athletic prowess within Albert County, I grieve when people run to Moncton...Now in saying that I realize I can't buy mango's in Hillsborough...some things are inescapable, but why can't we make a county inventory of who's who and can do whatever. Who is willing to bring forth their talents and invest in the lives of others? So, in saying that, why don't we start an Albert County Runners group. What about Tammy Carlin who has expertise in Yoga...why not get involved in her practice. What about Regan Sutherland who had studied reflexology? Have you ever heard of Harriet Gratian...world class danceast artistic director. She lives in Hillsborough!!! and loves Albert County. What IF!! There are so many others, so much talent. We need to pull these people out of the woodwork and link them with learners.

Friday, July 20, 2007

What if Exercise Was Easy?

No pun intended, but it’s a big step to start a running or a walking program. And if you wanted to nail it down, it’s not the exercise or even the degree of difficulty, but the fear of failing in commitment that holds us back. “I signed up for a Running Room Learn to Run program,” my friend emailed. “but I know I'll never stick with it.”

I hear ya, Sister. I'm the Queen of Excuses.

Getting into the routine of walking or running is the hardest hurdle to overcome. But it comes down to the decision point – a choice to do it in spite of that nagging voice that consumes your head - that whine with the bottomless pit of excuses.

Choose to get out there and move, even though you feel like a slug. The good news is that every time you choose yes, you squelch that little failure voice. Every time you choose to ignore it, that voice loses strength. It loses its grip on your psyche. And soon, you associate your walk or run with enjoyment. With pleasure. With anticipation. You’ve retrained your brain. And you’ll get cranky when you’re denied the pleasure of exercise.

I know these things.

It’s important to realize that the benefits of regular exercise go far beyond what you might expect. You can expect to physically feel better, but the inner sense of well-being, the clarity of thought, the pride of accomplishment, self-confidence and connection you feel with others doing the same thing are the intangible gifts that accompany commitment and effort.

So get out there. Make it a point to experience something new each time. Walk in the morning, walk at dusk, walk in the rain, walk the dog, walk up a hill, walk somewhere different. Stop and bury your face in wildflowers. Tune your ear to the birdsong. Feel the wind in your hair. Wave hello to your neighbours. Smile. Dance. Sing along with your iPod (out loud).

Everything worthwhile takes effort. And an inch of effort is worth a mile of easy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rhonda's What If...

What if a community came together to support one another in a common goal and that common goal become something bigger and soon other communities joined in, and not long after that it became an epidemic of goal-chasing, people-supporting, enthusiastic, energetic folks who were changing their lives and thus changing the boundaries of their world?

This was my friend Rhonda's "What If..."

She's a nurse at the Albert County Health & Wellness Centre, you see, so healthy lifestyles are her passion. She knows the province of New Brunswick has the highest percentage of unhealthy people in the nation. Over 61% of New Brunswickers are physically inactive, compared to a national average of 53.5%. Over 20% are obese, compared with 15% nationwide. These are scary stats.

She wondered what would happen if she made it easier for people to get active in a community where physical activity wasn't a priority. Her "What If" started with a series of weekly information sessions hoping to attract a few folks who wanted to make positive changes in their lives to improve their health. It was a local thing -a trial of sorts - that she launched in the small village of Hillsborough, N.B. The results were amazing. The numbers doubled, then tripled.

People started walking and running and losing weight. They started changing the way they ate and lived and thought about their lives. They started laughing and encouraging one another. They started
connecting with each other in a whole new way.

Then Rhonda asked, "What if we spread this out further? What if we try this in other communities?" She, along with colleagues Marlene and Doris, put together a focus group to brainstorm ideas, then put the word out on the street and within a few weeks,
Footloose! in Albert County was launched.

This past Monday, on Kick-Off Night, 200 people picked up their pedometers and join the Footloose! Challenge. The Goal: to walk or run an average of 10,000 steps (5 miles) every day and log their mileage. The team designated and marked 12 beautiful trails throughout the county as
Footloose! Trails with maps to show their locations. Log books were supplied to record weekly mileage, drop-off stations established in Hillsborough, Hopewell Cape, Riverside-Albert and Alma to collect weekly mileages. Each month, prizes will be awarded for milestones.

In the days following the kick-off, more people joined the challenge. Phyllis Sutherland called from Ponderosa Pines Campground. She wanted to sign up her nine employees and issue a challenge to other Albert County businesses. Right afterward, Gary Steeves of Gary Steeves Insurance called with the same request. By the end of the week, the maximum of 300 memberships had been sold.

The challenge is on. Who's next?


What if those 300+ enthusiastic people encouraged two friends to join them? What then?

In the coming weeks, I'll be exploring some of these Albert County Trails with my nifty pedometer and sharing my experiences with photos. I invite you share your own comments or photos here on these pages.

Got questions? Need advice? Post your comments and I'll try to get you an answer.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Marshland Solitude

I’m a casual runner these days – some days I run slow, some days I walk fast. Some days I like company; other days, I prefer solitude. Depends on my mood and the pull of responsibilities. But I know that if I go more than two or three days without exercise, I get cranky.

Monday was the third day. That evening, the night was so still and silent and warm, I decided to run out on the Hillsborough Dyke. It was about 8:15 when I parked at the Information Centre in Hillsborough. After a brief walk to warm up, I headed around the Wetlands Park Trail and out toward the gypsum silos. Ducks and geese were quietly tucking themselves into the reeds for the night.

I love it out here. Albert County marshland touches somewhere deep inside. The tide was on the ebb flow and river mud glistened in the soft fading light. Tall burgundy spires of marsh reed grass caught the last rays of sun, the creeping purple cow vetch wound itself through masses of daisies, sweet clover and bedstraw. I startled a few small birds from the long grass and they flew by my feet. An eagle floated overhead without a sound. The heady scent of fresh mown hay mingled with the subtle salt of the river water. The sunset turned the marsh a burnished copper.

I ran out the freshly graveled dyke road, and returned via the top of the dyke. It had not been mowed all summer and the grass was so long it was like running through a field – one of those things I’ve often wanted to do. This is freedom. I thought to myself…

What if I could share this with others? Would they want to share their own experiences as well?