Runner’s World Magazine Review

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What? Where do I get off reviewing a famous running magazine? Full disclosure, I cancelled my subscription to Runner’s World in March when I received the obligatory auto-renew post card, letting me know that my account would be automatically debited in April. I must admit, I have waffled over the decision to cancel for a couple of years now, but the deciding factor were the inserts that fell out of a recent issue that offered the magazine several dollars cheaper than I was about to be billed. I can be cheap like that sometimes, but after a more introspective look at the magazine it suddenly became even clearer to me. I am not their target market.

I think secretly I always knew. I’m not a slim, nimble 20-30 year old elite runner. I don’t have tons of money to buy the latest sneakers, nor to purchase the products that lurk in their glossy pages. Despite their one cover story issue last year of the plus-sized runner, there is very little for me. I’ve learned to stop drooling over the things I cannot have,  nor will ever be (again).  I have none of the characteristics that represent their true target audience.

I was thumbing through one of the last issues, looking for one of their cover stories and came across a story about a Couch to 5K success. It was supposed to be a motivating story about a 42-year old mom with two young boys. She wanted to shed a few pounds so she started with the C25K and now holds a trail run record, despite her busy schedule. She is a lawyer. My average woman-self, with a government job thought…mmm…she can afford things I cannot. I couldn’t connect when I thought of the advantages she would have over my own struggles. How about the advertisement to “Cheat Your Way to Lean”?  Second paragraph, “Last Tuesday was especially hectic, but I’d booked with my $200 per hour personal trainer…” Again, not me. How about Best Foods for Runners? There wasn’t a cheap item on any page.

All of this may sound negative, but it’s really not. I truly believe that Runner’s World has a niche market that works well for them. At my grandma age, I have no desire to be the elite “running with the 20-30 year old” market, nor the well-to-do older set. That is not my reality. I’m basically a barely paycheck to paycheck, grandma enjoying the run. So with that said, it’s important to realize that glossy pages, pretty pictures and well-toned bodies is not something that everyone necessarily needs or wants to see.

Does this mean that I will never pick up another Runner’s World magazine? No, there will still be some occasional interest…a headline that sparks my curiosity. To my friends, in that niche, it is definitely a good magazine for you, lots of helpful advice and exercises you can probably still do. 

I think that one day, someone will come out with a publication aimed at the beginner runners, the slightly over-weight runners, the older runners, the back-of-the-pack runners, the “not in my budget” runners – to let us all know we can still enjoy the sport too. It’s still a great magazine, but I am not their target market and I’m OK with that.

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Saucony Product Review

I’m going to start this post by saying that despite what you may read here, Saucony is still my favorite brand.  They were the first sneakers I was formally fitted for in the Virginia Running Store and have helped me through three half-marathons, numerous 10K’s and countless 5K’s and hundreds of runs in between (not all the same pair as you will read shortly).

So what prompted me to write a review today? Back in October, I was preparing for the Marine Corp 10K and looking down at my sneakers, I decided that I needed to replace the pair I was wearing, despite the fact that I had just bought them a few months before. Now I could see if I was one of those runners who put in miles and miles of miles per week, but face it, I’m not. On a good week, I will put in twenty, most weeks it’s less, so why the problem?

 

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3 months old each

 

As you can tell from the photo, I get toe holes (the new official term). Every single pair, every single time.  Now seasoned runners always give the advice – you need to size up for your running shoes. Sound… makes sense… I get it, they don’t feel tight, but I’ll give anything a try.  I decided to buy a pair of men’s instead.  Roomy toe, the edge of my toes were nowhere near the top of the shoes, running or standing still.  Did I mention that I JUST bought this pair in October? Well it’s the end of December. I’ve been on a couple of 11 – 12.5 mile runs. An 8 miler, a few 10k’s and looking at the toe of my sneak last night….NOOOO!  What is with this brand? Another toe hole developing, this time on a sneaker I have so much room, my toes literally swim. I’m not understanding.  Now three weeks away from the Disney World Half Marathon and I’ve got another hole in the making. What gives?

 

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Men’s pair less then 2 months old.

 

I’ve tried on other brands. Brooks and Asics are too narrow. Hokas make me feel like I’m running on stilts. Nike aggravates my (always lurking in the background) plantar fasciitis.   Why can’t my favorite brand last longer than a couple of months? Who has $100+ to put down on sneakers that don’t last? I’m going to give my favorite brand one more try.  I’m always open to advice though…

 

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My $49 pair 2 years old JUST developing now.

 

I do have to give a positive plug though. I did spend $49 for a pair of Saucony and have had them for a couple of years.  They are the ONLY pair that lasted before developing a toe hole.  I feel there is a message in there somewhere.   

Jeff Galloway – Mental Training for Runners Book Review

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“We have a powerful mind-body network that is interconnected.” Jeff Galloway.

As I head toward my first marathon, I realize that it’s not only about the body (yes, even a grandma’s body), it’s also about the mental stamina needed to get to the starting line, cross that line and make it to the finish line. As we barrel toward January, there are so many doubts. In fact, I considered downgrading to the half, but unfortunately, the half is now full…go figure.

Plan B… I was looking for material on stepping up my mental game when my sister mentioned that Jeff Galloway had such a book.  Jeff Galloway – Mental Training for Runners – No More Excuses, a rather long title for a book, but no worries, it all fits on the cover page.

Mental Training for Runners (I had to shorten the title), is 205 pages of Jeff Galloway’s best advice, all crammed into 205 glossy pages (literally…glossy). If you’ve ever had the opportunity to hear Jeff Galloway speak at an event, you know he talks about the “monkey brain”. Now, before you go trying to decide if it’s an insult or not, the monkey brain is that part of our subconscious (reflex brain) that sends signals to the rest of our body (that’s how I interpret it anyway). This is the part of our brain that lowers our motivation and lose our focus. The purpose of Mental Training, per Galloway, is to override our monkey brain. This is exactly what I needed.

Mental Training for Runners covers a wide variety of topics and tips, as I said, many of which have been covered in Galloway’s books and speeches, but all in one neat package.  Think of it as a one stop shop.  The book covers everything from various running situations like recovering from injury or illness; what to do when a close running friend moves away and running in the morning or at night after work, just to name a few. It also includes inspirational stories from individuals who have survived cancer; a runner who ran a marathon after the age of 80; running for and after weight loss, and keeping journals.  If you need motivation – this book is definitely for you.

Fav Chapters

Chapter 6 – Setting a motivation training plan – This chapter discusses setting a reality check for your goals. “As you take one conscious step after another, you take control of your attitude and your running experience.” Now, that is what I needed to hear!

Chapter 11 – Cognitive Control over Nutrition – Fat Burning.  There is no denying that weight loss is one side effect I am hoping to achieve. Since kicking up my running, I am happy to report the loss of 10 pounds. (I like to think of it as the equivalent of a 10 pound sack of potatoes). “The monkey brain is programmed to keep eating when food is available-long after we have eaten enough nutrition for the next 24 hours.”

Not quite fav, but not bad…

Keep in mind, this is a Jeff Galloway production so there are going to be mentions of his books and products throughout.  You can look at it a couple of ways – mini-commercials, or the opportunity to read about additional helpful resources. For example, I saw a couple of books that sound like they might be my next purchase – Nutrition for Runners and also Running and Fat Burning for Women. Hopefully you won’t let these strategically-placed product endorsements deter you from taking full advantage of all this book has to offer.

Well, for me, I’ve found Mental Training for Runners – No More Excuses to be extremely helpful in trying to tame my brain.

Cize Review

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The snow kept me inside today so I thought I would use the time to review an “exercise” DVD set I purchased. So …Beachbody CIZE It Up… I was considering a gym membership.  The gym next door to my office charges $60 for one month or $10 for a single visit. There are cheaper gyms, but they are much further out. Instead of joining a gym, however, I decided to purchase the Beachbody CIZE DVD with Shaun T for the same price as the month membership.  I’m at about two weeks into the program, so I thought it would be a good time for me to give it the grandma review.

What I like:

While it has nothing to do with the DVD, I found that I actually like the opportunity to make a fool of myself by learning to dance at home without worrying about anyone looking at me. Not that I often worry about that, but when I’m gasping for air and trying to catch my breath, it’s so much better when no one is watching. It’s getting better though, I’m not as winded when I first started.

Step-by-step instruction. Shaun T takes you step-by-step through each dance routine and repetition is the key. For example, the You’ve Got This routine is 43 minutes. For the first 40 minutes, you are learning each step, repetitively and starting from the top – repetitively. For the last three minutes, they play the “CIZE it Up” song, in this case Treasure “originally recorded by Bruno Mars.” The “originally recorded” means it’s not the actual singer, but it sounds pretty close.

Does it work? The infomercial states that it’s the end of exercise and the infomercial actors also declare they are so into learning the routine that it doesn’t feel like exercise.  I started the DVD’s a almost two weeks ago and I have lost three pounds. It would probably be more if I actually utilized the nutrition information in the Eat Up Guide included with the set.  I have to agree that I’m concentrating so hard on learning the dance steps, I do forget that it IS an exercise, disguised as a learn-to-dance DVD.

For each routine you rate yourself as to whether you’re a back-up dancer, front and center or ready for your own video. I think I’ll be in the back for a while, but it is fun to feel like I’m improving.

There are six routines, plus 8 Minute Abs. Today I started workout #3 – Full Out, for which the CIZE dance (last three minutes of the workout) is done to “Lose my Breath” originally recorded by Destiny’s Child. Lose my breath, I did.

Maybe the “not so much”:

I know that the Beachbody company is thinking of the young beach body types as their target audience, however, what originally drew me to the purchase was the infomercial that featured the older woman. It made me think that if she could do it, so could I. What I find distracting in an annoying sort of way, however, are a couple of the female, professional back-up dancers.  They are dancing, but it looks more like they are trying to model. One in particular, really annoys me unfortunately she is also in the Shakeology commercial right before the workout starts. I always fast forward.

Keep in mind that Beachbody is in it for the money, so be prepared for them to continuously pitch their merchandise in between the workouts, but not during the workout itself, thank goodness.

There are some that don’t like the repetitive-style teaching method and the short, three-minute CIZE it Up. I love it for two reasons, it helps me to learn the dance and it works up quite a sweat.

If you are a professional dancer or prefer the standard exercise DVD that “works both sides”, this DVD is not for you.  Some users complained that Shaun T didn’t switch sides to workout both legs and both arms.  It’s a dance DVD, not really an exercise DVD.  I tended to switch sides on my own and I was quite content with that. If CIZE doesn’t make you sweat, it’s probably not the DVD for you.

Overall, the cost of the DVD was the same price as a 30 day membership to my closest gym. If I used it six times (at what would have been single $10 visits to the gym), it would have paid for itself. All this to say, I’m quite pleased with my purchase, but do continue to fight the urge to purchase one of the cute CIZE t-shirts.