Posts Tagged ‘ Biking ’

Spring Weather = Outdoor Fitness Fun

springbikingMy mood always improves as the weather grows warmer, the days grow longer, and the sun shines more. This means I can take full advantage of all the other outdoor activities I love. So while I continue with my strength training routines at the gym, I’m eager to bask in the sunshine. Biking, disc golfing, walks, maybe even a little pitch & putt.

Recently, my wife and I found an amazing place a short drive from our house called Duke Farms. At 2,740 it’s one of the largest areas of privately-owned undeveloped land in the state. With 18 miles of trails, paved and unpaved, it’s ideal for walks with children, biking, running, or hiking. There’s even a family of eagles you can watch or view over the farm’s Eagle Cam! Cool! You can hop on a little tram that goes around the trails if you get tired of trekking. While it’s open year-round, we visited for the first time a couple weeks ago – it was absolutely beautiful! Our family is already looking forward to our return visit. 🙂

 

Beating the Running Blues

sadrunnerEvery so often an injury will derail me from my running goals. Because running has become so much of my identity I rely heavily on being able to run to find peace of mind emotionally, physically and mentally. When I can’t run it really affects me on my many levels. Lately I’ve been faced with this challenge and have been forced, or, thinking positively, given the opportunity, to find ways to cope with not being able to run.

So instead of getting depressed and mopey, here, after much self-reflection, are:

Runner Sami’s Tips for Beating the Running Blues

1. Use the time off to become a stronger runner – Find cross-training activities that won’t exacerbate your injury. Biking, swimming, pilates, yoga, and strength training are all great ways to build up muscles that will help keep you injury-free in the future.

2. Invest in other areas of your life – Because running is my positive outlet, it’s important to reroute those energies into other outlets while running is on the back burner. Find ways to invest your time that make you happy. Writing, catching up with friends, spending time with my family, or planning a trip are some things I have found help rejuvenate me when I’m not able to run.

3. Read about running – For some people this might be too painful, but I’ve found that reading about running helps me feel like I’m still involved in becoming a better runner. Books or articles about running help me focus on positive ways to help my recovery. There are always ways I can better myself as a runner and it’s fun to read about interesting races I can sign up for once I’m at full running capacity again!

4. Be an active participant in your recovery – You’re not alone. There are a lot of resources online through blogs, social media sites like dailymile.com, or websites like runnersworld.com for runners looking for support or providing helpful tips and strategies for those coming back from injuries. Finding answers and lending support to others are great ways to aid in recovery.

5. Eat healthy, be happy – When I can’t run my mind automatically starts to dwell on all those extra pounds that are going to fly onto my body. Even if this is not realistic, eating healthy helps me keep a happy frame of mind until I can go back to burning the calories I’m used to burning. And eating healthy is always a great habit for helping me become a stronger runner.

Happy running! 😀

Spring is in the Air

Spring is in the air…okay, well the air is still a little chilly, but the grass is turning green and spring flowers are popping up all around. Yay! 🙂

I’m training for a couple of great races this spring that I’m really excited about. One is Miles for Maheny which supports children and adults with severe disabilities. The other is the Superhero Half Marathon and Relay where the proceeds go to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

I’m also participating in the Five Boro Bike Tour. My girlfriend and I are renting hybrid bikes at the start of the race to save the hassle of figuring out how to get our bikes into and around NYC. It’s a 42 mile ride through the five boroughs of NYC. Sure hope the weather is nice! 🙂

Add those special events to my usual running, biking, disc golfing, dog walking summer-time routine and I have a whole lot of fun activities to be excited about.

What about you? What do you like doing once the weather gets warm?

 

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SNOW!!!

This is what it looked liked this morning when I took my dog out for a walk. It was a winter wonderland! 🙂

I worked until 9 last night at the library and kept checking outside to see how the roads were as I have a bit of a far drive on back roads in order to return home. Around 8 it was flurrying but nothing was sticking to the roads so I wasn’t too worried. At 8:30 a thin covering was just on the sidewalks and by 8:45 it was really snowing heavily. By the time I checked the conditions the parking lot was already covered with a blanket of snow! I was able to leave a few minutes early so I had a better chance of getting home safely. I think I may have hit 30mph on my way home it was snowing so hard. I couldn’t even see the lines on the road! Fortunately there weren’t many cars on the road and I made it home without any problems.

I was scheduled to work this morning but the library is having a delayed opening so I won’t be going in at all today. Instead I’m going to continue to work on my book, bike on my indoor trainer and go for a long snowy walk. Even adults get to enjoy snow days every once in a while. 😀

Fitness Friday!

To spin or not to spin…

For those of you who have never been to a spin class or think that spinning means turning in circles until you fall down in a discombobulated stupor, here’s what you need to know about this fabulous workout.

Spinning is a class that incorporates the workouts of cycling using indoor exercise equipment. The bikes used are meant to mimic those that cyclists use from the handlebars to the pedals that you can clip biking shoes into (if you want to). As with any workout, spinning is as intense as you make it. Just as with an outdoor road bike, you are able to increase or decrease the resistance as you pedal typically using a knob on the middle bar of the bike instead of separate gears.

While I’m sure every spin class is set up differently dependent on what gym you go to, here are a few things you should know/keep in mind when finding a spin class that fits your needs:

1. Instructor – The instructor can really make or break how enjoyable a class is. His/her energy, enthusiasm and preparedness can make you want to push yourself and come back for more pain workouts. When you’re in class notice: Does your instructor arrive early to set up? Does she give understandable verbal instructions during class? Is the music upbeat? Is there adequate warm-up and cool-down time built into your class time?

2. Bikes – Spin bikes get a lot of miles put on them and have to maintained regularly to keep up with the wear and tear. Make sure the bike has pedals that are fit for both sneakers and bike shoe clips so you have different options. Make sure all the handlebars are worn out with holes so you don’t get blisters and that there’s a place for a water bottle and an easily adjustable seat.

3. Atmosphere – Taking a new class can be intimidating and gyms should be aware of your needs. A spin class should be lively and upbeat. They typically run an hour long. Also, spin classes I’ve taken have several rows of bikes so those first timers are able to sit in the back and watch others until they become comfortable with the different instructions as it’s not just about “riding” but standing up and shifting your body weight to work out your different muscle groups.

Note: If you take a class, make sure you ask someone (preferably the instructor) how to adjust your bike before you start the class. A badly adjusted bike can lead to back and knee problems.

While I haven’t been to a lot of spin classes, I love biking and spin was an fun extension of that love. I loved being challenged in new ways and it was a perfect complement to running as it was still a good cardio workout, but I wasn’t pounding the pavement as I do with running.

For those of you who love biking, but can’t go to gym during the cold months when you don’t want to bike outside, a good alternate is to invest in a trainer. A bike trainer is a stand that you can hook your bike into and ride as if you were outside. It’s like having your own private spin class! My girlfriend just purchased one (she’s the avid biker) on ebay for only $60! Much, much cheaper than joining a gym and now she can train indoors all winter.

So check out spinning, you may just find it’s a perfect fit! 🙂

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Rails to Trails

New Jersey just keeps surprising me!

Before I moved here, I was like a lot of people (ok, everyone not from NJ) who thought the state was the blight on the face of America. But ever since I moved here, New Jersey has proved me wrong. It’s a quirky little state filled with an overabundance of pride. Where I live in central Jersey, I’m surrounded by green. Parks, farms, fields, playgrounds, and trails are abundant. There’s not a day when I don’t see a mass of brightly colored cyclists or runners or dog-walkers taking advantage of these scenic offerings.

When Alissa stopped by for dinner the other night she mentioned her discovery of an amazing trail close to where she lives. It’s called the Columbia Trail and with it only being a twenty minutes drive from my house, I had to check it out.

The Taylor Steel Workers Historical Greenway is one of many trails that run through scenic areas of NJ. Once a railway, its last freight train ran in 1976 and the trail was built in 1990. It had been in operation since 1876 running iron ore along its lines. There’s a national conservation movement called Rails-to-Trails Conservancy whose goal is to convert old railways into greenways for bikers, runners, walkers, and cross-country skiers to be able to use.

The trail is packed gravel, perfect for running and biking, and is 14 miles out and back. Tall trees shade the trail and a river runs almost the entire length of the trail. It’s an ideal place for my long Sunday runs.

And there must be something magical about the trail too. Everyone is friendly and waves or says hi or good morning. It’s great! Also, there are little treasures along the way too with tiny wooden houses, homemade benches, and even a hidden gnome standing in front of a small door that’s been hinged to the bottom of a tree. I don’t even feel like I’m running half the time because there’s so much to look at and marvel over. 🙂

For more information about Rails-To-Trails Conservancy and trails near you:

European Vacation

Sorry about the blog hiatus, I was running around Europe with my girlfriend and didn’t have internet access most of the time. It was absolutely amazing! We visited Switzerland, France and Spain. France was by favorite by far with cobblestone streets, fabulous boutiques and mouth-watering boulangeries (bakeries) and patesseries on every corner.

That’s me in front of the Cote d’Azur in Nice, France.

My favorite part of the experience was the bike tour that we took around the French Riveria. It was through Cyclomundo, a bike touring company that provides a variety of tour packages as well as the option of creating your own tour in various countries in Europe – most being in France. You are outfitted with a hybrid bike (very comfortable), water bottles, sidebags that hook onto the side of the rack on the back of your bike, and a binder of maps and directions. Each bike is outfitted with a kind of board that clips onto the front of your bike into which the maps and directions are placed so you can read while you ride. The trickiest part was figuring out the directions as we didn’t have any sort of odometer and the directions were in kilometers to boot. We only got lost a few times and even then it wasn’t difficult to find our way back to the route we were supposed to be on.

It was a beautiful three-day trek from Avignon to St. Remy to Arles back to Avignon. We biked past fields of poppies and vineyards and olive groves. One day was spent traversing the Alpinnes, the chain of mountains that stretches through the south of France. Our last day was spent battling fierce headwinds that would stop our bikes if we stopped pedaling for even a moment! One of the most difficult physical challenges I’ve ever done but it felt amazing to accomplish such a task.

It was wonderful to take such a great vacation, but it’s great to be back home. 🙂