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.
Photo 13
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.
 Photo 12
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.
Photo 7
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.
Photo 6
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.
Photo 3
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.
Photo 2
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.
Photo 15

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!

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/.

Happy National Running Day

It’s How I Run…

June 6 is National Running Day so I thought I would do a long overdue post on running.  Here are some general running tips from me.  Keep in mind, these may not work for everyone, but they are some things that help me with running.

running gear

The Two Most Important Things You’ll Need for Running

The nice thing about running is that you really don’t need to a lot of gear.  There certainly is a lot of gear you can get for running, but you don’t necessarily need it all.  One thing you should definitely invest in is a good pair of running shoes.  Your cool looking Converse are just not going to cut it.  Not only should you go out and buy a good pair of running shoes, you should buy them at a place that knows something about running.  They will check out your feet, ask you questions, look at your shoes (yes, please take your current sneakers, walking shoes, running shoes, etc. with you–they really don’t mind the smell).  We’re fortunate in the Lehigh Valley as we have two great stores (Aardvark and The Finish Line) that will get you in the right pair of running shoes.  Asics have worked the best for me because I have narrow feet and a high arch, but each runner is different, so you’ll want to get shoes that are good for your feet.  Trust me–you’ll enjoy running much more if you’re running in shoes that are right for you than those that look the coolest (besides, companies try to make all their shoes look cool anyway).

Women have to invest in a second important item if you decide to take up running and that is a good, high impact sports bra.  Ladies–you need to protect your girls.  Each breast can ‘travel’ several inches with each stride you take.  Without a good sports bra, your breasts can travel 1/10 – 1/4 of a mile for each mile you run.  And by travel, I mean up and down, left to right, side to side, crazy eight.  If you’re running to look good, you don’t want your breasts to start looking bad after a few workouts.  So take care of them!  Invest in a very good sports bra.  You wouldn’t think of wearing a sports bra as a sexy come-on in the bedroom, so don’t wear your sexy bras when running.  There are many good bras out there, but this is another area where it is a good idea to get properly fitted for your bra.  I prefer Moving Comfort bras, but there are other good ones out there as well by Champion, Lululemon, Asics, Saucony, etc.

Other Running Gear

Your running shoes, and for women, a good sports bra, are the two key things you need for running.  Everything else is bonus and can make your run more enjoyable.  Other gear I like includes good wicking clothing, such as running shorts, tops, running pants, jacket, socks, etc.  I also love my Spibelt, sold at good running stores where you’ll be buying your sneakers.  The Spibelt is a little small personal item belt that can stretch to fit as much or as little as you like in.  I generally have my phone, ID, and key in there, but you can also stick in some protein packs or other fuel/energy gels you may want on your run.   I like to carry my phone with me because I have decided not to invest in one of those fancy running watches.   I use an app on my phone to track my distance, time, speed, etc.  The exercise app I prefer is called RunKeeper and allows you to integrate with all your favorite social networking sites.  You can also program in certain workouts to help keep you on track (pun intended).  I do wear a running watch (a good old Timex Ironman) that serves me well.

Staying Motivated

This may come as a shock to many, but not everyone loves to run.  They may want to get in shape, but running, well, it seems like too much work to them.  So what are some ways to get motivated and stay motivated to run?  One of the best ways to stay motivated is to run with others.  It is much harder to quit running after 5 minutes if you are running with someone else, especially if you have a bit of a competitive streak in you.  Again, here in the Lehigh Valley we are fortunate to have some great groups to help you get into running or to find others to run with.  For women, there is an organization called First Strides that works on progressive routines to help you build up to run a 5K race.   You’ll get to work with some very awesome mentors (like me!) and meet other women trying to improve their running.  For men, women (and even kids) we have the Lehigh Valley Road Runners, which has group runs, races, and a kids series.

Running on your own?  I like listening to a good playlist when I run solo.  Some nights I need a bit more heavy metal, other nights it’s dance music, now and then rock&roll/alternative will do the trick.   Pick music that is going to motivate you and keep you going.

Here’s what I ran to tonight:

  • Say Hey (I Love You) – Michael Franti & Spearhead
  • Let’s Get It Started – Black Eyed Peas
  • Let It Rock – Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
  • Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida
  • Sexy Bitch – David Guetta w/Akon
  • Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Titanium – David Guetta w/Sia
  • Sexy Back – Justin Timberlake
  • Good Feeling – Flo Rida
  • Wild Ones – Flo Rida
  • Lose Yourself – Eminem

For me, personally, listening to a book does not work, but for other it may make the time go by quickly.  I also can’t do country music–that would make me run in front of a bus, which is probably not a good idea.

The important thing is to just start running.  Start small.  Don’t start wanting to do a marathon.  Start with 10 minutes and build from there.  Before you know it you’ll be running much further than you ever thought you could.

So Happy National Running Day!   Go out and get high–a runner’s high, that is!