Sunday, August 30, 2015

Light a fire under couch potatoes

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, August 30, 2015

Note from Madeline:
I’m taking a summer break so am sharing one of my classic columns from 2003.  Published in January of 2003 it has relevance for anyone beginning a running program whatever the time of year, with or without a horse.  In addition, the Dr. Robert Atkins Ketogenic diet plan mentioned here has recently been validated.   A revolutionary aid to putting the body into Ketosis has just come on the market to help people to burn fat and generate energy.  I am testing it now.  Email me at if you would like information.


Now about those Couch Potatoes.  Many of you can probably remember back when you came under that less than flattering heading.  It may even have been a January New Year’s Resolution that sent you out the door to remake your body into the well-oiled machine it is today.  OK, maybe you don’t quite have it at perfection yet, but you are a whole lot better off than that day you took your first halting steps at running.

Long time readers of mine may recall that my first attempts at running had an unusual twist.
I was exercising a small string of horses and one in particular needed a lot of work.  With no time for my own condition program I combined her jogs with mine.

Once down the trail that I still use I dismounted and ran alongside the horse.

Not knowing a thing about how to get into this running “fad” that was sweeping the country, I began to run as fast and as hard as I could.  That lasted about thirty yards. 

Breathless with wobbly legs I remounted the horse and took some time to consider the situation.  When I had recovered I dismounted again and this time I just slowly jogged down the trail.

Aha!  That was the key.  Slow and easy was the way to get started and soon I was jogging more than I was riding.  Soon the horse was gone and I was on my way to being a runner.

I remind myself of my first follies at running when someone asks me for advice on how to get started on a running program.

Those of us who started this activity as an adult need a little coaching to do it right.  If not, the new runners may start with a sprint as I did and end up back on the horse as in my case, or back on the couch, never to give it another try.

My advice to someone who is out of shape is to start first with a good brisk walking program.

I tell them to throw in a short period of slowly jogging and then return to a walk.  Gradually increase the jogging time and decrease the walking time.  At some point the jogging will take over and walking will just serve as the warm-up and cool down time.

Jogging will increase to running and soon jogging will be the warm-up and cool-down and voile, another runner is born.

May I weigh in (quite literally) on another related topic?  Most people who begin a running program are looking to lose some excess weight as well as to increase their fitness level.

A lot of attention has been paid lately to the Dr. Robert Atkins method of losing weight through reducing carbohydrate intake while increasing their fat and protein.

I would suggest to you that you buy the Dr. Atkins book or check it out of the library.

Then you will understand the science behind the doctor’s plan.  Some people do not do well eating a lot of carbohydrates and they will be helped using his plan.

I have discovered that I am one of them.  If I eat too many carbohydrates – not sweets, but bread, pasta, rice, etcetera, I will gain weight.  Switching to protein and fat I can drop body fat quick and easy with no loss of energy.

My cholesterol levels do not go up, but rather, remain at a healthy level.  It may not be the answer for everyone, but it could be the key for many.

Whatever your system, or the system of the friends you are coaching to a new fit life; I wish you all a successful year of healthy running and racing in 2003.


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