Ten Reasons First Strides is For You


Number One:
You’re a woman! First Strides is a beginner walking and running workshop just for women, only women. Women tend to prefer group activities and enjoy the social aspect of those activities. First Strides works in groups and encourages participants to be social!

Number Two:
First Strides is a gradual 12-week program that will help you comfortably progress from the couch to walking, jogging or running at a pace that’s right for you. Many times people start off on their own saying “I want to run a 5K” and then start off running too far and too fast. With First Strides you’ll work with others within your same pace.

Number Three:
It doesn’t matter where you are with your fitness right now. Never exercised? Start at a walking pace. Take casual walks now? Slowly add a jog into your routine. Running already? Build up your distance and endurance.

Number Four:
With First Strides you’ll not only develop a fitter body but you’ll also develop a fitness mindset. It’s easy to come up with excuses to not work out: “I don’t have time,” “It’s too hard,” “I might get injured,” etc. Mentors guide you through First Strides and help erase those doubts.

Number Five:
It will become habit forming. Because this is a 12-week program, you’ll begin to develop workout habits. First Strides meets once per week, there is also a bonus night, and participants have ‘homework’ to add additional workouts. Making exercise a regular habit makes it much easier to maintain your fitness.

Number Six:
It’s one of the most cost effective exercise programs. No gym membership or overly expensive equipment. A pair of sneakers, an athletic sports bra, shorts, and a top are your only equipment needs. $50 (or $45 early bird) is the cost of the program, which covers 12 weeks and you get a good workout shirt if you attend a certain number of times.

Number Seven:
You’ll be healthier. Women tend to exercise less than men. Men are almost twice as active as women and that negatively impacts women’s overall health. First Strides provides a solid foundation to change that trend.

Number Eight:
You’ll learn important health, fitness, and nutrition information. Each week highlights a different speaker and a different topic, such as heart health, cross training, proper footwear, bone health, and much more.

Number Nine:
First Strides provides a goal for you. The fall program helps you develop so that you can participate in the Women’s 5K Classic in the Lehigh Parkway on Saturday, October 18, 2014. Participation is optional and there is an additional fee for this event.

Number Ten:
It’s easy to register and starts the week of July 28! For more information and to register for any of several First Strides programs offered throughout the Lehigh Valley, please visit the website:  http://www.firststrides.com/

**also submitted to LVRR Newsletter

First Strides and RunKeeper

Last week, we started another session of First Strides, a walking and running workshop for women.  In the workshop we meet together as a large group over 12 weeks, with each week getting progressively advanced.  We meet once per week as the group and then we ask participants to do some homework on their own, which means they have to do that weeks program on their own several more times before we meet again the following week.  The workouts are designed by combining easy and hard intervals over time, by slowly reducing the ‘easy’ interval times and increasing the ‘hard’ interval times.

We often get asked if there is a mobile phone app that will help track these workouts because it often difficult to keep track of that with a regular exercise watch.  We don’t have a particular *First Strides* app, however, here are some directions for setting up the workouts with one popular workout app called RunKeeper.  There are other app options with similar functionality, such as MapMyRun and Fitnio.  (For a review on some of these and other smartphone apps, check out this Lifehacker article.)

I use RunKeeper and absolutely love it, so that’s the app  you’ll get step-by-step directions to set up.  Once it is downloaded on your phone, just follow these easy steps to add each week’s work out to your phone.

Step 1:
Once you open the Runkeeper app, under ‘start’ you will see your activity type.  One of the options on that screen is ‘Workout’.  Click on the ‘Workout’ row.
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Photo 14 Step 2:
Scroll down for the option to ‘Create New Workout’.
Step 3:
This is where you set up your workout by giving it a name, adding intervals, and indicating whether you want a warm up and/or a cool down.  Notice the the warm up and cool down are set to 5 minutes which is fairly standard in the workout world. Give your workout a name, such as “First Strides Week 1” or “FS Wk 1” if you don’t want to type out a lot.
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Photo 7 Step 4:
After naming your workout, click on the option to ‘Add Interval’. There are three things you can set for an interval: the interval pace, interval type, and interval size. Click on the row or the drop down for ‘Interval Pace’
Step 5:
Under ‘Interval Pace’, you can set your pace as slow, steady or fast.  In First Strides we use easy and hard.  For the easy, I like to use the steady option.  You can set your easy as either slow or steady.  Save the fast option for our hard.
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Photo 10 Step 6:
For the ‘Interval Type’, you have two options, either time or distance.  It should be defaulted to ‘time’, but if it isn’t then go ahead and set the ‘Interval Type’ to time.The final setting is ‘Interval Size’.  Click on this option to set your time.  For the first week, our easy is 4 minutes, so you need to set both minutes and seconds by putting in 4 and 0.  Just click in each block to bring up the number pad to add your interval times.   Then click on OK under the time block. Then click on OK once more to close out the Interval settings.
Step 7:
Now we have to do the same thing to set the hard interval.  Click on the ‘Add Interval’ option again to bring up a new interval setting screen.
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Photo 5 Step 8:
Now we need to go through the same steps as above to set the hard interval. Set your ‘Interval Pace’ to Fast. Keep your ‘Interval Type’ as Time. Set your ‘Interval Size’ to 1:00 min.
Step 9:
That defines our interval.  If you remember from our workout, we actually do that interval several times.  Each week not only the times in the intervals change, but the number of times you do that interval will change as well. To set how many times to do your interval, click on the ‘Repetitions’ option under ‘Workout Options’ after you’ve set your easy and hard intervals. For week 1, we do the interval 3 times totals, so you have to set your repetitions to one less than that, or ‘2 More Times’.  That will give you the original interval and then two more repetitions.
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Photo 4 Step 10:
Almost done!  Now we just have to tell RunKeeper to include both a warm up and a cool down. To do that, all you need to do is check the boxes next to those options. That gives you your full Week 1 workout of First Strides. Be sure to save your workout!
Step 11:
Save your workout by scrolling down until you see the ‘Save Workout’ buttons.  Click on that button to save your workout.
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Photo 1 Step 12:
Now all you need to do is select that workout.  If it is not shown in the ‘Workout’ row, click on that row to select the workout you want to do.  If you need to create another week’s workout, just start from the top. If you’re ready to workout, click on ‘Start Activity’ and the app will then tell you when to switch from the warm up to the ‘easy (slow or steady)’ interval to the ‘hard (fast)’ interval each time and then let you know when you can cool down.Have fun working out!
Saving Workouts:
Another nice option with RunKeeper is that you can save every workout you do.  Each workout is saved by the date you did the workout and then you can go back through your workouts to see your progress. It will show your distance, duration, average time/mile, calories burned, any notes you added about your workout, a map of your workout route, splits, and charts. You can also post these to social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.
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Hope this was helpful!  The workouts are much easier and quicker to set up than reading through these directions, so you will be able to quickly add your workouts to this app.  As mentioned, other apps have similar functionality.  I’m just too lazy to do this for the variety of different apps.  However, if you want some assistance getting yours set up, regardless of whether it is Runkeeper or another app, feel free to contact me!

30 Day Plank and/or Push-up Challenge

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 10.24.23 PM

In July, I created a 30-Day Plank and Push-up Challenge for a running group, First Strides, that I participate in.  Essentially I just made things up on a daily basis hoping it would work.  Mostly it did and it got many of us doing a variety of planks and push-ups over 30 days.   I decided to do this for two reasons:

In First Strides, we do targeted talks each week (it is a 12-week program) on various aspects of fitness, nutrition, sports attire, etc.  One of those sessions focused on core strength, so naturally, the plank was highlighted in that talk.  We go over proper technique and why it’s important and demonstrate a variety of core exercises that can be done.  During the plank demonstration, I overheard one of the participants say she will be great at doing these planks for about a week and then she will lose interest.  This got me to thinking, which can sometimes be a scary endeavor.  The First Strides program is structured to gradually build up one’s workout regimen and try to make it a habitual part of her life.  So why not do this for doing planks.  So I noted that idea and then promptly forgot about it for a few months.

Which brings me to my second reason.  For the most part I do a pretty good job of keeping in shape.  I run and walk regularly and I’ve always maintained decent core strength.  I keep my brain in very good shape, too, with reading, crossword puzzles, and other stimulating mental exercises.  But my one very neglected area has always been my arms.  Granted, I would try now and then, but like that First Strides participant I was great for a week, but then kind of (purposely) petered.  So I needed to make it a habit as well.

So, that’s how we got to this planks and push-ups challenge.  It is an effort to make these exercise a habit.  Now it’s a myth that it takes 21 days to create a habit.  Same with 28 days.  The good news is that some research indicates that 66 days may do the trick.  Below is a link to a Google Spreadsheet that outlines the full 30 day challenge.  You can print it out, save it to your own Google Docs, or down load it as a PDF or document. If you didn’t do the challenge in July you can just do the challenge as it is outline in the file (there are two separate tabs in the spreadsheet…one for planks and one for push-ups).  If you did the 30 Day Plank and Push-up Challenge with me in July, you can just do it again, as is.  Or you can also kick it up a notch.  If you did the challenge in the modified position, do it the second time around in the standard position.  If you did it in the standard position, do it again doubling what you are to do.  You can also modify the challenge by saving the file to your own Google drive as your own document and changing things as you wish!

Link to 30 Day Plank and/or Push-up Challenge: http://bit.ly/30DayPandP

Make it a habit.  Don’t stop after 30 days or 60 days.  Just keep planking and doing push-ups (and running!).  And if you ever want to mix it up more, just drop me a line and we’ll come up with another fun challenge!Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 10.39.29 PM

Plank Image courtesy of http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/superset-4b-plank
Push-up Image courtesy of http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/how-to-pushup

First Strides


Why a walking and running workshop geared just for women?  Several reasons, but one underlying reason is that women approach working out much differently than men do.  Men tend to have a ‘just do it’ attitude when it comes to working out.  Women, on the other hand, like guidance, prefer some instruction, and sometimes need regular encouragement.  That is what First Strides does for you!  First Strides is a guided workout program geared to help women progress regardless of where they are currently in their fitness level.

First Strides can help you achieve your fitness goals, whether it is just to start doing some exercise, getting in shape, improving your walking or running speed, meeting new people, walking or running in a particular race, or to start looking and feeling better.  Don’t have a particular goal in mind?  First Strides also sets an initial goal for you!  At the end of your program you will be able to walk or run in a 5K event.  The First Strides’ program starts at a very basic level, where you decide if you want to walk, jog, run, or any combination.  The program allows you to change your mind or adjust depending on how you want to progress.  Each week, additional time and difficulty is slowly added to the program.  After twelve weeks, you will be walking, jogging or running not only faster and further, but you will also be ready to compete in a 5K event.

Whether it is you that wants to start a new walking or running routine or you know someone who has been talking about exercising more, First Strides can help meet those fitness goals.  First Strides takes elvce at several locations throFghoit the year:  Lehigh Parkway in Allentown, Sand Island in Bethlehem, as well as Bethlehem Township, Hanover Township, and the Poconos.  st Strides pr Sand Island in will be rting March 21, 2013.  Ther more information and to register for Firany of these st Strides, p programslease visit the website:  http://www.firststrides.com/.