Beginner’s Yoga 7 Day Kickoff

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Hello friends,

Happy Friday! 😀 The weekend will be here shortly and i can already feel the excitement!

So I have a little back story to share before I dive into my post for the day. For the past two months every once in a while I have felt the need to just drop whatever I was doing and stay still for a few minutes. Kind of like a “reboot” or “refocus”. I have also been feeling pretty stiff lately. No matter how many days I cross-train or how many miles I run. And also i feel disconnected. All these little feelings here and there – truth be told – weren’t having a huge impact on my day-to-day life, till now… When these feelings/physical states start to occur more often, and they don’t feel like a phase or a momentary lapse any more, this is when I realised that I had to take action. Being an athlete for a long time i have become hard wired to listening to my body – it’s the best injury prevention method to my opinion – and trusting my instincts. So in this case my body and my mind have been yelling at me for a while to do something in order to get my old “me” back. After trying many different things, from changing my cross and weight training routines – thinking it might just be boredom – to drastically fluctuating my milage, the situation didn’t improve.

This was the point where the problem solving scientist in me took over and research began. So after putting two and two together (like how much i had enjoyed my last longish stretching session and how good it felt to just breath for a few moments before my run) the verdict was YOGA.

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Now, i need to confess that not only i am a totally clueless individual when it comes to yoga, but i am also one of those people that have always said “Yoga is not for me. I couldn’t never sit still for that long!” – said the clueless person thinking that that’s what yogis do…

Ha! Only if ‘ve known better…

So after reading – a lot – and looking into a million free source material about yoga, I have decided to start small and try to incorporate it into my morning routine for 7 days and see how i feel by the end of the week.

What is the plan?

  • change my morning high impact routine into a series of beginner’s yoga poses (using one of those printable guides here and here)
  • this will last about 20 to 25 minutes
  • give myself 5 minutes to relax, focus and work on my breathing after the session
  • write a few bullet points every night about how (if) this change in my routine had an impact on my day

Hopefully I will make it through the week, it will make a difference and I will enjoy it! Speaking about things I enjoy, @brother_taleoftworuns who is a far more experienced yogi than I am, happily agreed to have a Skype yogi session together this weekend 🙂 So excited to get to spent some quality time with my big bro who I don’t really get to see that often anymore! .

My big brother and I at Nafpaktos town, Greece – summer 2013

And I also plan to thoroughly enjoy having a laugh with him while i fall on the floor face first ..- Oh right, positive thinking  “I wont be falling on my face…I wont be falling on my face…”

I will keep you guys posted about my new adventurous endeavour and definitely give a full review of it by the end of next week. Feel free to join me to this endeavour! I will be starting this coming Monday.

Any newbie yogis out there? Or advice for more experienced ones?

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F.I.R.S.T. marathon training program

Hi friends!

I hope everybody had a great start on their week 🙂

A few months ago i decided to run my first marathon which would be the Greater Manchester marathon on April 2016. I was so very excited and of course started researching and developing a training plan that could fit my schedule and running level. Unfortunatelly because of work i will not be able to race in this marathon since i will have to be in the USA at this time 😦 Despite the unscheduled turn of events though i had already found a pretty suitable for me training program which i still continue to follow -in a modified fashion – to train for all my other racing commitments (post and announcement – hint hint hint – are coming soon!)

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.27.13So down to business, I always like to see running through a scientific perspective. Everything makes better sense to me this way – occupational hazard you could call it… Form form and kinesiology to speed work and intervals. So it was only natural that i would look in the literature and see what i could find on marathon training. From the “Furman institute of running and scientific training” I give you the FIRST Marathon Training program.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.34.54.pngThis program is designed especially for – intermediate to proficient – runners that they want to complete their first marathon. According to their philosophy you can “run less, run faster” with the type of training they suggest. Previous marathon training results have shown that runners are able to run a complete marathon on only 3 days/week  running and 2 days/week cross training, and achieve their time goal.

According to these scientists PACE is the most crucial component of this short of training program. They suggest that training intensity is an essential factor for improving the physiological processes that will help a runner have an increased performance. All of the paces in this program, are based on the individuals BEST 10K race pace.

The program consists of 3 Key runs.

Key Run #1

  • INTERVAL training
  • faster pace than current 10K
  • 45 seconds per mile faster
  • the amount of rest/recovery is indicated by the program

Key Run #2

  • this is a TEMPO run
  • slightly slower than 10K pace BUT faster than average training pace
  • 15 to 30 seconds slower than 10K race pace

Key Run #3

  • Long run
  • determined by PMP (Planned Marathon Pace) pace
  • this run would be on a PMP pace + 45 seconds

This is how a Training program “sample” week would look like;

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And here,marathon training FIRST, is where you can find the PDF complete 18 week program for free from the Furman Institute. If a beginner runner wants to follow the program experts suggest that they add a 4 to 6 weeks pre-training in order to be sure that they can tackle the first 8 mile long run.

Of course, like any other program it has its pros and cons and it all depends on what the runner is looking for.

Pros:

  • helps with running burn out
  • great alternative for people who enjoy cross training
  • training less times a week makes a marathon training accessible even to busy people who want to race
  • you get an extra rest day

Cons:

  • the work outs are fewer but tougher
  • people susceptible to injury might struggle to add speed instead of miles to their workouts
  • high intensity training can be challenging for non-well trained runner

So, the bottom line is that a training program is a very PERSONAL choice and every runner needs to thoroughly research every option before deciding, and to find something that first of fits their running level and also their way of life. I hope all fellow runners find this review useful!

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Quit Smoking 101

“Smoking is bad for you”. How many times have we all heard this phrase? I stopped counting the 10780723487408327 i heard it 😛

Well, we all know that it is true and as an ex-smoker i know (and have used) all the excuses for it. From “you think all the stuff we breath from the polluted air is better?” to “i am rolling my own and this makes it healthier”… Well it’s not and it ‘ll never be. I know first hand how hard it is to stop smoking. But I can promise you that it is worth it 100%.  I have to admit i was never in favor of any kind of patches or the e-cigarette. All these “helpful” substitutes can only delay the inevitable (cause your ultimate goal is to stop right??), mess with your mindset, cost a ton of money and finally aren’t that much healthier than smoking it’s self. Alas, I am not saying that it will be easy but trust me it will be in a way easier without any of those “aids”. The way it will be easier it is that the whole process will not last as long. The nicotine will leave your system and even thought the first couple of days will be hard, about a week into a smoke free life you’ll start forgetting about it more and more every day. The physical aspect of addiction to smoking wanes down in about 7 days, and then the hardest part comes along. The mental aspect of it. How you ‘ve connect smoking to other actions during your day.

new_year_resolution_new_year_2012_things_to_do_in_new_year_2013_2I am in no way an expert on how to quit smoking but i am someone who walked in those shoes a few years back and i truly believe my story might help a few people as well. I was always ALWAYS active and really into sports and running. Still am of course 😛 What i am not still into is smoking. Looking back i can’t even explain to myself the reason why… How can you be as active and love running as much i do and also consciously do something that harms you and your favourite activity a great deal?

 

Well, that didn’t last long. When i got inspired and decided to take my running to the next level i knew that smoking had no place in my life (it shouldn’t have in anybody’s life really…). These are a few things i did and it really helped me to go through (and STAY through) with quitting.

1. Cold Turkey

It sounds heartless and difficult but it works wonders. The first few day will be so very hard but then it ‘ll gradually become much easier. One important thing, don’t “start” to stop smoking in a weekend. It’s much easier during the workweek when you have other things to keep you busy.

2. Sub sub sub…

Substitutes (and i dont mean the smoking-related once) like food, coffee, tea aren’t a bad idea. I ‘ve heard people using the excuse of “I am not quitting because i will gain weight!”. Well chances are you will, but apart from the fact that gaining 10lbs is definetely healthier than smoking 10 months, personal experience has taught me that once you stop smoking you ‘ll become better on any activities/sports you might doing (or start doing) and that would make you want to do it more and guess what will happen to the few extra pounds?? They will melt off. It is so much easier to make the decision of walking to the grocery store or home from work and not taking the bus/car/subway if you know that you will not huffing and puffing all the way!

I did let myself eat a little more, or have one more treat during the first few months of my journey to quit smoking. I did gain about 12lbs but i don’t regret  it AT ALL! About 9 of those pounds are gone and i feel healthier than ever!

3. Support Network

You need your close family and friends to know of your decision and its importance to you! They can’t support you if they don’t know about it. Ask for their support. Ask the smokers amongst them to respect your decision and not “advertise” in front of you that they are going to smoke. It does work wonders…

4. Dissociate

What was your habit? Smoking with your morning coffee? With drinking? After dinner? Which ever one it was try to dissociate it and associate that moment/action with something else. For me it was my morning coffee which i replaced with a workout and a healthy smoothie. As for the weekends, every time i felt the need (mentally) to smoke i ‘d drop down and do abs/push ups/squats you name it… Just to quickly remind myslef how awesome it feels to be healthy and smoke free. My after dinner smoking got replaced with a nice cup of lemon green tea, to which  now i m really looking forward to every night.

5. Apps

Let technology be your friend in this journey. The same way yo u’ll use a GPS for a trip somewhere use (free) apps for your phone to help you quit smoking. It is great brain conditioning to see how far you ‘ve gotten every time you feel like your effort is not worth it.

6. Mindset

Don’t say “i am trying to quit smoking” just because it is only one smoke free day. Be positive and remind yourself that you quit it! It’s a done deal.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 10.00.51You’ll fall of the wagon once or twice. It is a fact and it ‘s OK. If you slip and have a smoke don’t throw all your hard work of quitting away, or beat yourself up about it. It happened (chances are if you are smoke free for about 2 – 3 weeks you wont even enjoy it that much) and now you have to move on and not let it happen again 🙂

I hope these points help some of you to quit smoking and march to a healthier lifestyle! 😀