Other Ways To Exercise

This website is all about getting in your miles, but we realize that running can get a bit boring from time to time. If you find yourself getting less and less motivated to get in your miles, perhaps it is time to mix it up.

In reality, it does not matter how you get your exercise in as long as you get it in. So, to that end, here are some other forms of recreation that can help you get a great workout.

Bike Riding

Biking for exercise.

I say bike riding because if you hear the word cycling, you immediately think about touring bikes. There are a lot of easier ways to get into bike riding though.

A simple cruising bike or mountain bike is inexpensive and can provide you with hours of entertaining exercise. Whats more, it is environmentally friendly. Replace those short trips in your car with a bike ride and you accomplish a lot of different goals. You get some exercise, cut down on greenhouse emissions and you even save some money.

If you want to get into biking, start cheap. Pick up a used bike off of Craigslist or a used sporting goods store for under $100 and if you find that you enjoy it, upgrade in the future.

Kayaking

A kayak for exercise.

This one is my favorite activities outside of running.

Kayaking can give you a great upper body workout and can take you places that yo could not otherwise go. It is also an activity that can be quite calming. Do not underestimate the tranquility that you can get being out on a lake in the early hours of the day.

The only downside to kayaking is that there is not a super cheap way to get into it. Cheap kayaks are really not worth the money, so you really need to spend some money on a decent kayak and all of the safety gear. If you want to get into it and money is tight, consider financing your kayak over going cheap.

Expect to spend about $800 for a decent kayak, paddle and life vest.

Competitive Sports

Soccer for exercise.

Want to get that workout in and not even feel like it is a chore? Competitive sports might be the thing for you.

Even if you are not an “athletic” person, competitive sports can be for you. Recreational leagues  are there for your participation no matter what your skill level is. Look into recreational basketball, softball, indoor soccer or even dodgeball.

There are lots of rec sports out there, so there is something for everyone. Even better, costs are minimal and could wind up being just a few dollars a game.

Housework

Housework for exercise.

It might not sound like much fun but housework can get you up and about. Get exercise while getting some things done around the home.

The best example of this is yard work. A little gardening or cutting the grass can burn more calories than you might think. In addition, you get the satisfaction of getting something done.

If you do not have a green thumb, you can still get some exercise taking care of the home. Clean the house, paint the fence or do one of the million things on your to do list. You can get some exercise and, if you usually pay someone to do the work, you can save some money.

Go Dancing

Dancing for exercise.

Dancing is perhaps the best way to get a workout and not realize it. You burn way more calories than you think and the time flies by like you wouldn’t believe.

If you do not know how to dance, take a class or simply wing it. It doesn’t really matter how you move to the music as long as you are getting your hear rate up. If you are really self conscious though, look into a dancing video game that you can do from home.

Choosing A Treadmill

Some of us are lucky enough to live in a climate where we can get all of our walking or running miles outdoors. Unfortunately not everyone has that luxury, but you still have a way to get those miles in. A treadmill can be the solution for those who live in bad climates or areas of the country that do not facilitate outdoor exercise well.

Treadmills that were bought carefully.

Buying  treadmill is not that simple however. You have a lot of options and choosing the wrong treadmill can be like wasting thousands of dollars. For those of us not made of money, let’s buy the right one the first time. Here are some things to consider.

You Get What You Pay For

Like a lot of things in life, you get what you pay for. Cheap out on a treadmill and you might as well just throw your money away. Cheap treadmills are a misery to use and will likely break in a very short time. Expect to spend around 3000 dollars for a decent treadmill.

3000 dollars, yes, this is a lot of money but these days, financing options abound. It would be better to buy a quality unit and make payments than it would to simply throw your money away on junk. Here are some ways to afford your treadmill.

Store Credit: If you have a good sporting good store out there like Academy Sports, you can get in store financing. The benefit with in store financing is that you can often qualify for low or even zero interest financing which can really lower those payments.

Online Credit: Another option that can allow you to afford a quality treadmill is online financing. Websites like Loan By Numbers can get you a cash loan and you can use it to buy your treadmill anywhere. The good thing here is that you could then shop the used market. There are a lot of high quality treadmills for sale on Craigslist for pennies on the dollar.

Okay, now you know that you can afford a good treadmill, how do you go about picking one out? Well, there are certain features that you should look for.

Picking A Good Treadmill

Choosing a good treadmill means paying attention to the specs. Luckily, a lot of companies like Consumer Reports have taken much of the work out of finding a good treadmill. Here is what you should look for.

Light bulbs representing making a choice.

Horsepower: Generally speaking, the more horsepower, the better. A higher horsepower motor will do a lot of things for you. It will let you run faster, it will lug down less under load and it should allow your treadmill to last much longer. If you are a walker, you should look for at least 1.5 horsepower and if you run, you want double that.

Cushion: Impact absorption is a big thing. You need a treadmill that will absorb the impact instead of transmitting it to your body. This is where the more high end treadmills shine. You should take a test run on any treadmill that you intend to buy and see how it absorbs impacts. Where thin running shoes so that you see what impact the machine can really absorb.

Incline: If you can not run or just find it uncomfortable, you can really ramp your workout up with incline. Make sure that you get at least 10 degrees of incline.

Stability: There is nothing worse than not having a solid base. This is something that you have to test out and is why it is so important to try out your treadmill.

Space Requirements: Do you have room for a regular treadmill or do you need a folding model. If you have the space, a non folding treadmill will generally be more stable and loaded with more features.

Programming: Do you ant to just run or do you want to be challenged. A good selection of programs can help if you need to be challenged. When combined with good incline and even decline features, they can even effectively simulate real world conditions.

Warranty: Look for at least a 2 year warranty that covers parts and labor. The electronics should have a 5 year warranty. A poor warranty is a sure sign of poor quality.

Running Or Walking In Cold Weather

Running or even walking in cold weather is one of my favorite things to do. The brisk air is full of more oxygen and it makes for a much more exhilarating experience.

A dog running in the winter.

If you are trying to get your 500 miles in over the course of the year, you can not avoid the cold days. No, you must instead prepare for them. To that end, here are a few tips that can help you make the most of your cold weather run or walk.

  • Scout Your Location
    Choose a location that is well maintained. It is best to plan a route on a street that is plowed often when dealing with heavy snow. Likewise, choose roads with good drainage so you can avoid puddles.
  • Use Wind Management
    If you run on a windy day, use the wind to your advantage. It takes more to get you motivated and going, so start out by running with the wind. On the second half of your run, you can face the wind once you are all warmed up.
  • Buy Snow Specific Footwear
    If you will be running int he snow often, get some snow specific running shoes. Trail running shoes make good choices. They have larger lugs on the bottom that clean out easier giving you more traction. Kind of like snow tires.
  • Buy Winter Clothing
    You should buy clothing that is appropriate for the season. This might mean a proper winter hat, ear coverings, gloves, etc. If you plan to walk, it could be gear that you could wear elsewhere. If you plan to run, the gear must also be designed to wick moisture away from your body.
    If you plan to run where there might be snow, an outer waterproof layer can also be very useful to keep you dry.
  • Go Easier
    In bad weather, it will be a bit harder to beat a personal record. Go easy and concentrate on your traction not your time. The important thing is that you are getting yourself out there.

That is is, 5 easy tips that will help you get out there in cold weather and keep earning those miles on your way to 500.

Benefits Of Running

Everyone knows that running is good for you but have you ever though about just how good it is for you. Take a look at our list of 7 things that running can do for you.

Benefits of Running

1. Running Improves Your Health

This is an obvious one, but it is the main reason that people get into running int he first place. Running improves your health a great deal. It tones your muscles and conditions and strengthens your cardiovascular and respiratory system. Run for any length of time and you will notice improvements in your resting heart rate and  your blood pressure.

2. Running Improves Your Mood

If you are ever in a bad mood, a run can do wonders for making you feel better. The runners high is a real thing and the endorphins released can make you feel good for hours.

3. Running Can Help You Lose Weight

Running allows you to burn quite a few calories and the calorie burning goes on long past y our workout. For the same amount of time, you will burn far more calories running than you would walking. In 20 minutes of walking, you might burn 100 calories walking but 200 calories running. In addition, your metabolism will remain high long after your run and you will continue to burn more calories over the next few hours after a run.

4. Running Boosts Your Self Esteem

As a runner, yo just feel better about yourself. Running allows you to practice discipline and allows you to set and achieve goals. This makes you feel better about yourself and will make you feel more confident. If you are just starting out you will get a huge boost hitting that 2 mile goal, then the 3 mile goal, etc.

5. Running Can Stop Depression

Depression can help put an end to depression if done regularly. No, it is not a cure all for all cases but along with professional help, it can help you stop the cycle of depression. Running makes you feel good because your brain releases chemicals as you run. This can only be a boost to those suffering from occasional or even chronic depression.

6. Running May Reduce Your Cancer Risk

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing cancer. Because running can be addictive, it is the perfect form of exercise to take on if you want to develop a regular exercise routine.

7. Running Can Help You Think

When you run, you get into a meditation mode. You stare ahead of you, doing the simple and repetitive task of putting one foot in front of the other. It can help  you think differently and to problem solve. Stuck on a project or an answer for a problem, go for a jog.

Perils Of Running

If you are just starting on your 500 mile project, you are probably very gung ho about it. This might mean that you are being aggressive, maybe even too aggressive. In the case of running, this can be a real problem, especially for new runners.

So, before you get too far into your program, why not take a look at some of the potential perils for new runners. See some of the common problems and how to prevent them.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are one of the most common problems faced by runners. You can get them when you overwork the muscles and tendons in the lower front part of your leg. Shin splints are very easy to get when you ramp up your workout program too quickly.

To prevent shin splints, you need to work up your distance slowly. Even if the rest of your body can handle a longer run, you are only as strong as your weakest link.

If you have been unfortunate enough to get a case of shin splints, you have a tough road ahead. They are easy to get but can be difficult to get rid of. What you need to do is rest and ice the area. Freezing water in a paper cup works well since it gives you a nice formed piece of ice. you can use the edge to get the cold where you need it.

Knee Pain

Just like shin splints, knee pain can be very easy to get when you ramp up your activity level too much.

To prevent knee pain, you should choose good footwear and work up your run length slowly. If you are overweight, you might consider walking instead of running until you lose some of the weight. The heavier you are, the more impact your knees will have to endure.

Once you have knee pain, you just have to wait it out. Use rest and ice to treat your knee until the swelling and/or pain go down. Resist the urge to tough it out.

Ankle Injuries

When running you make yourself susceptible to all sorts of ankle injuries, the most common being a twisted ankle. This is an injury that is very easy to prevent though, if you are cautious.

The best way is to use proper footwear and proper form. Practice your running stride and for the first few days or weeks of running make a conscious effort to maintain your form. Eventually, it will become ingrained in you. In addition, be cautious about making sharp turns at speed, especially when you are first starting out. Remember, there are a lot of little muscles and tendons in your ankle that need to get conditioned.

Once injured, fixing the problem involves the same old same old. Rest and ice is what you need.

Back Problems

The back, particularly the lower back is a problem for many people. A bulging disk can cause you a of problems and the impact from running can certainly affect it.

If you have a bad back, no strengthening will help it. Sure, some abdominal exercises can strengthen the core but it is really the impact that does the job and this is what you have to pay attention to. Wear good shoes, maintain proper form and consider running on naturl surfaces instead of concrete.

If back problems do arise, rest is the name of the game. This is not an injury that you want to make worse because a bad back injury can affect your entire life and leave you in constant pain.

Must Have Running Gear

So you have decided to take on running. Perfect, if you can handle it, it is the easiest ways to get your 500 miles a year in and meet the challenge.

Although you can run on a budget, there are definitely a few things that can make your life so much easier when on the run. Take a look as some must have running gear that you can consider picking up.

A woman jumping on a run.

1) Wireless Sport Head Phones

Some like to run in silence, but most of us like some tunes. This is where a good pair of wireless sports headphones come in handy.

If you are an airpod person, you could use those but they can also be trouble. You run the real risk of those falling out on a run.

What you really need is a set of headphones that either wrap around the ear itself or around your head entirely. This will give you the piece of mind knowing that they will not come off as you jump over a curb.

2) Running Shoes

Never underestimate the value of a good pair of shoes. Lighter in weight and more supportive in the right places for running.

A decent pair of running shoes can be had for as little as 60 dollars, although you can spend so much more. If you have the money to spend, this is a good place to spend it. As far as brands go, I prefer Nike running shoes, but you should try as many as you can to get the perfect fit for you.

3) Sunglasses

You probably have a pair or two of regular sunglasses lying around but they are probably ill suited for running.

A regular pair of designer sunglasses lacks the attachment points and the coverage that you need for running. You need glasses that hook around the ears and with lenses that wrap around to provide more sun protection.

4) Sports Watch

A good sports watch or even an Apple Watch is a convenient thing to have. They can track so many details of your run from your heart rate to your pace to your total distance.

Sports watches can also send health and run information directly to your phone where you can get the most of it with running apps.

5) Proper Running Clothing

No, you do not have to buy running specific clothing, but it sure does help.

The most important item of clothing to consider is the sock. This is after all your first point of contact in a run. You want a sock that wicks moisture away from your foot, that is soft so that it does not chafe and that is form fitted so that it does not slip.

As far as clothing goes, a goog pair of running shorts will serve you well in the Summer. In the winter, you want clothing designed to both protect you from the cold and wick moisture from your body. Winter clothing especially can turn a harsh run into a comfortable one.

Running Versus Walking

When people start out on their journey to 500 miles a year, they often think that they have to be running their miles. While running is a great form of exercise, it certainly is not for everyone.Some peoples body types are just not well suited for running and for others, they are just not in that kind of shape yet

So what form of exercise is right for you? Are you going to run or walk those miles? Here is a little guidance to help you choose.

Running

A runner on the road.

You see runners all of the time and you might even envy them. They look so fit and conditioned as they effortlessly rack up the miles. While running might be for some, it is not for everyone though.

Pros To Running

The great thing about running is that you can rack up those miles pretty quickly. Running along at a modest pace you can get in 3 miles in well under 30 minutes. This certainly will let you power through your 500 mile a year goal.

Another great thing about running is that it gets your heart rate up higher. You burn more calories during the time that you are doing it and the burn continues well after your workout. Your body will continue burning calories at an accelerated rate for hour after a run.

Lastly, although there is much more, you have the runners high. It is a real thing. That rush of endorphins can keep you feeling good for hours after you run. Having a bad day, just go for a run and your outlook on life can change quickly.

Cons To Running

On the flip side, there are some major cons to running as well.

One of the biggest is the impact on your joints, particularly your knees. Some peoples bodies will just not respond well to running. There is a reason that most of the runners that you see are rail skinny. That is the body type that excels at running.

If you are overweight, have a bodybuilders physique or are just big boned, running can be a problem. It could eventually lead to some major joint pain, so use caution.

In addition, running, because of the increased heart rate, should be taken on cautiously. It is easy to overdo things if you are not cardiovascular conditioned. If you decide to take on running, you should see a doctor first and start off slowly.

Walking

A walker on the road.

Most people who take on the 500 mile challenge will do so with walking and that is just fine. You can get a terrific workout walking and it is much easier and less intimidating.

Pros To Walking

The biggest advantage to walking is that it is much easier on the body. You do not have the same impact on the joints that you can get with running which means that just about anybody can start walking right away. If you are extremely overweight or have another health condition however, you should do so under doctor’s supervision and you should take it slow.
Another advantage to simply walking is that it is easier to fit into a day. A run, because of the additional sweating, can be a burden. It must often be followed by an extended cool down period and a shower. That makes it much harder to fit an afternoon run in than it is to fit an afternoon walk in.

Cons To Walking

There really are not too many cons to walking. If I could say anything it would be that it takes just a bit longer to do. It might take you 45 minutes to an hour to walk 3 miles when you could have run it in under 30.

In Conclusion

Whether you decide to walk or run your 500 miles is up to you. Just be sure to take a reasonable look at your situation and conditioning to pick the right choice. It would be much better to choose the walking path and be able to carry on versus taking hte running path only to be discouraged or even become injured.

If you must run and have not done so in some time, take it slow. Use the run-walk method to gradually build up your conditioning. Remember, it is not only your heart that needs to be build strength. All of those little helper muscles, joints and tendons need to get conditioned as well. Going in too fast can have some very big negatives.