Running & Wellness

Running is something that is a taboo topic for most people. It’s something that brings pain to the body that most do not enjoy. Other people, like myself, find running to be one of life’s gifts to ourselves. Running is the optimum way to get in shape and improve your overall wellness. Although, it has some risks associated with it, such that of injury.

Injury, in my perspective, is your body’s way of telling you that you’re pushing yourself to hard. Smart training and proper nutrition gives one’s body the perfect balance to avoid injury and prolong a career in running. Now, when I say career, I mean the allotted time you spend running throughout your life. That could mean running recreationally or training to run in events such as 5ks, 10ks, half-marathons, full marathons, or, if you’re brave enough, and ultra run (50k, 100k, 100mi, etc…). Whatever the reason, it is my belief that everyone has the same opportunity in life where they can take up this amazing escape before their body gives in to certain factors that come with aging.

I’m 20 years old and have been running avidly for about four years. Running has changed my life in ways that I cannot even describe. Originally I began running my junior year in high school because I wanted to lose weight. People used to make fun of me because of my weight and it didn’t make me feel good emotionally and physically. The teasing was just one motive I had to lose weight, but I knew that I needed to push myself hard to get my body to where I wanted it to be. I needed to be able to respect myself and I needed a way to release stress. I began my weight loss journey at 215 lbs. I’m 5’11” so it’s not like I was a gigantic guy, but I’ve always been real self-conscious about my weight and once people figured that out, they knew that I’d be an easy target for harassment. During the beginning stages of my weight loss I struggled mentally and physically. I couldn’t find that passion or fire for working out that I now prize today and so it became an uphill battle. The first couple of months I didn’t make hardly any progress, but, I began eating better and feeling better and the workouts started to come naturally to me; it became a habit. Now, let me tell you that I did a majority of this by myself; there was a period of about 3-months where I had a “trainer”, but he was more like a group trainer for youth athletes in the area where I grew up. I did make progress when I worked out with him and the group, but once I was done with them, the weight was placed on my shoulders to accomplish what I had set out to do.

From the period of October 2011-April 2012 I got myself to a manageable weight of 185 lbs (Originally my main and only goal), but I wasn’t satisfied, so I kept running and strength training. The Summer of 2012 (Going into my senior year) was one in which I created my own weekly workout routine in my backyard and on the streets of my neighborhood. I can remember my dad always laughing at me because I would run laps around my backyard that was maybe 15 yds in length and 10 yds wide. Trust me, it took some mental toughness to get through 30 minutes of running in that small of quarters. It got to the point where I had a track going around the yard of the dead grass that I constantly trampled. My dad used to get pretty made when I made big divots in the grass from throwing down my loaded bar down after doing front squats because when it came time for us to move later that summer, he had to fill in the numerous holes and re-seed the yard. Anyway, that summer progressed nicely and I returned to school that fall for my senior year with my weight down into the 160s! I was astonished, but I still wasn’t satisfied.

I continued, from that point on up until last May 2014 (end of my freshman year in college) to do a combination of running and strength training during the week because it helped me keep my weight at a constant level. Last year I came to a point where I started to question what I was gaining from lifting weights when what I really loved to do was run. I knew that I didn’t want to big muscle mass and so I had a choice to make. Now, let me run a little off topic here by saying that I’m a huge Boston Red Sox fan and ever since I started watching them play (’06) I’ve wanted to take a trip to Boston to visit Fenway Park and take in a game in Beantown. Now, every year in about the middle of April, the city of Boston recognizes Patriot’s Day, where the whole commonwealth of New England shuts down, to commemorate the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. On this day the Red Sox play an early baseball game (~11am local time), but the big interest of the day centers on the running of the Boston Marathon. Last April, 2014, I streamed the race and watched it for the first time and admired the pageantry and witnessed the first American man (Meb Keflezighi) to win the race in many years. At that moment, a year after the horrific bombings at the finish line, I knew what I wanted and I found my ticket to finally being able to travel to Boston. I was going to start running longer distances and run in marathons and progress enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Originally I didn’t intend on shooting directly for a marathon. I was going to start small and work my way to the big one. Instead I ended up accepting the challenge and set the date for my first marathon as July 27th, 2014 down in the city by the Bay, San Francisco. I struggled through training by constantly pushing myself harder and harder every day so that I’d be ready. I was so excited the morning of the race that I started off the line way too fast and suffered for it once I hit Golden Gate Park (half-way). That day I turned in a sub-par performance and finished in 4:18:51, but I finished my first marathon and that I was proud of. However, next race wouldn’t come until December 2014 down in Sacramento where, because of smarter training, I was able to finish in 3:26:26. I was content, but now I began setting my sights toward gaining speed and qualifying for Boston.

My most recent race, here in Reno on April 12th on a much tougher course, I was able to improve my time to 3:09:45, just five minutes off from my qualifying time of 3:05:00 for the Boston Marathon. This August when I venture down to Santa Rosa, CA I plan on eclipsing that time to be able to run in next year’s Boston Marathon, which just so happens to be on April 18, 2016 (my 21st birthday).

Training is hard, but when you have goals, the hard part is always put to the side. It’s in these precious moments in our lives where we have to dig deep and know in our hearts that a change needs to be made. I’m not saying go out and be a runner because something like running needs to come naturally to you and it has to be something that you want for yourself. I’m just telling you that running has changed my life. It’s become my release from the world. It’s lowered the amount of stress I feel. Imagine that, a college kid with a low stress level; must be a sweet life. For the most part it is a nice life and that’s why I’ve gotten into being a personal trainer. I want to instill that same fire that I possess for working out onto my clients and help them reach their fitness goals. Running or working out in general will change your life significantly. I’ve been able to keep my weight off for just about four years and I wouldn’t trade this fitness journey I’ve been on for anything in the world. That sense of accomplishment just feels so amazing. My huge support system, consisting of my father, mother and brothers, directly, and my other extended family members, friends, coworkers, and teachers have gotten me to where I am today sitting here at 20 years old weighing a whopping 163 lbs. I’m still learning new things all the time about health and wellness, so I’m not an expert, but I’m definitely not a novice either.

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The Thrive Series

Thrive by Brendan Brazier
Brendan Brazier is one heck of an athlete. He also excels at being a vegan athlete, and an all around great author. He has a trilogy of Thrive books-
Thrive Fitness: The Vegan-Based Training Program for Maximum Strength, Health, and Fitness

Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life
by Brendan Brazier and Hugh Jackman

Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life [THRIVE]

He also has a wonderful vegan cookbook…All it is lacking in my situation is a macro breakdown – but all three of these books outline very simple ways to not only convert to a vegan lifestyle, but also use this lifestyle to your advantage to achieve optimal health.
He provides extensive information on all of the foods that are available, how they help you in your quest, how to cook them, and even where to find them. His workouts are broken down into easy to follow pictures, with directions, repition numbers, and sets.
In his book on fitness, he supplies a lovely section on injuries and how to treat different injuries with stretches and exercises. He also writes about something that I engage in with a love/hate relationship- pre and post workout fuel for your body. He suggests for normal workouts that the best source of pre-workout fuel is fruit and sprouted seeds, and that for longer ones that you also add a small amount of protein, soluble fiber and fat. “When seeds are sprouted, their starch component converts to sugar. The sprouting process does it for us, saving our body energy and significantly improving ability.” When talking about adding the protein, fiber and fat, he writes “This will help slow the rate at which carbohydrate will be released into the bloodstream, thereby allowing its energy to be spread over a longer period of time.”
Brazier is a long distance athlete- running and triathlons. He is quite amazing, without even adding his long distance athletic performance and veganism. He is also the founder of Vega- plant based whole food products..give it a look!
For now, he has convinced me to look into different aspects of training and has enhanced my superfood knowledge. I am also using some of his stretches on a client who has some injuries he needs to care for…. I am working on reading the last of the three books I have of his, which is the nutrition guide….Stay tuned.

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Plyometrics- dedicated to Pam Bright- the woman who taught me to not shoot short, and it is never too late.
I mentioned I started messing with Plyometrics yesterday, sort of a bucket list thing… I have been afraid, all of that fear in my head, of being too spastic to accomplish these things…

The good news is I loved plyometrics- it is hard, headrush sort of hard, and there are endless items to tackle- in the gym, at my house, outside. In fact, I might be addicted, I can’t seem to get enough, and…… now I have one more item to research.

Here is yesterdays list:

Plyobox jumping, as I increased the levels
180 degree squat jumps holding medicine ball
back lunge jumps with knee ups holding medicine ball
Squat jumps with TRX
Low jump squats with low jump ins
pushup, to a roll back, roll back up and jump- I am sure there is some name for this (which also took the longest for me to trust)
And I did try one of videos that I repost- it was wonderful fitness wise, but required a ton of thought, making it not quite as fun as I would like..
Plyometrics seems to come from the heart, from a knowing that you just CAN and WILL take it on….
The next day:
II was feeling it again , so after a grueling leg work, thought I would give it one more try.
That being said, as I stated above I could now have a plyometric addiction problem. I have found one more thing I love about fitness. I feel strong and lovely jumping on top of those boxes…. The older men at the gym watch me.. I must be a sight-my 45 year old self, jumping, grunting, jumping back off, sometimes gracefully, sometimes not at all! The young trainer at the gym told me today I was killing it- I will take that.
I share this, because it seems it is really never too late to give it a whirl- whatever it is you want to do- at whatever time. I dedicate this post to my oldest daughter’s grandmother Pam Bright- who always inspired all of us to not let age stop us from doing what we need to do! She has been an inspiration to me at every stage of my life, cheers!!

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More Vegan Bodybuilding

I am also reading Gluten Free Vegan-Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Nutrition: Building Muscle Fast with Vegan Bodybuilding Recipes and Vegan Muscle Growth Meals. This book has been an amazing source of information too, and builds on the idea that our protein should come from more than soy sources. It starts out by defining exactly what being a gluten free vegan means. It also goes on to give detailed information about all the different ways gluten is hidden. The author reinforces my own theories that soy is not a replacement food, by helping with many other ways to get your protein and fat needs met without the use of soy.
In chapter three the author gives a rundown on deficiencies and how to meet these needs as well.:
Lacking B12- eat more nutritional yeast and rice, hemp and nut milks
Lacking D-more sun, mushrooms, supplements
Calcium deficiency- kale, collards, mustards, orange, sesame seeds, almonds etc.
Iron deficiency- Lentils, spinach, chard, turnip greens, tahine
B6 deficiency-sunflower seeds, pistachios, banana, avocado
And to top off a wonderfully filled small book that is packed with great information the end of the book is filled with resources and lovely recipes that are easy to follow!
Bainbridge, Steven, Gluten Free Vegan-Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Nutrition: Building Muscle Fast with Vegan Bodybuilding Recipes and Vegan Muscle Growth Meals. Digital Direct Publishing, 2014.

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