pace

Distance Yourself

"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but he who walks with fools suffers harm." --Proverbs 13:20

Read: Proverbs 13

Leading up to her third marathon, my wife had a simple plan: find her pacer and stay close to him or her no matter what. See, most marathon organizations provide the runners with all sorts of tools and techniques to help them through the grueling course -- from seminars on stride, tactics for tackling hills, and perhaps most notably, they offer the runners a pacer.

A pacer is a man or woman capable of finishing the race at an exact time. And when I say exact, I mean exactly that. Kevin (pictured here) ran through the finish line at three hours and 35 minutes -- just what he was asked he'd do. Now, Kevin didn't know who was counting on his pace. All he knew was that someone would be relying on his experience, strength and endurance to help them along their way toward their goal.

In our daily pursuit of spiritual and physical stewardship, we all need pacesetters. People who God places in our lives to help us stay the course. Not only that but God may, in fact, bless us with the privilege of being that for someone else, and it's an honor we can't take lightly. Like Kevin, we may or may not know who is, but someone is depending on us to know the way and show the way. So let's take inventory. Who are we running with? And more importantly, who's setting the pace? Is he or she helping us make Godly choices when it comes to our life and health? Are we helping them with theirs?

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Kevin was a little surprised when I asked him for a photo. Perhaps it's typical for the pacers to be invisible after a race. But I had to ask him to stop, especially when I read the back of his shirt. "Distance Yourself" it said. Wow. Perfect for our verse of the day. Thanks for inspiring us Kevin. We want to keep up.

TWITTER QUESTION: Yoga

Yesterday on Twitter I was asked if I thought yoga was a conducive form of exercise for the Christian. It's not the first time I've been asked the question, but I've never addressed it here. So, for the fitness section today, we're talking yoga.

My first true experience with yoga came not too long ago. I wanted to improve my core strength, flexibility as well as pelvic floor issues in the weeks and months leading up to my spine surgery. Now, mind you, this is a former heavy-lifting, chalk-flying, barbell-hoisting (you get the picture) kind of guy, so I definitely felt like a fish out of water.

I started at home with a beginner's DVD on core and flexibility. It was good, tough and I felt like I was getting stronger. So I decided to take it up a notch and buy a membership to a local studio. With mat in hand, I marched myself into class. My first class. And here's where my thoughts on yoga kinda begin.

The first thing the instructor did after we were all in place was to begin a chant. I'm not sure what language it was in -- I really didn't care. all I know is that I started talking to the Lord; and fast. I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying this, but it was offending my spirit. The instructor continued to chant and I remember going so far as to say the Our Father. True story. Anything I could say to the Lord in my mind to help me drown out what I knew wasn't being said to Him. Alas, before the chant was over, I quietly and discreetly rolled up my mat and left. They didn't miss me.

Now, I tried a few other classes that month, the ones without any hint of chanting, and I enjoyed the instructors and classes and I know I was improving physically. Then came the surgery and almost three months later, here we are.

All of that to say this: The Lord sees the heart, and if something’s not right, you know it. He knows it. Trust me, there’s enough going on in weight rooms to fill a dozen entries, so I’m not trying to single out yoga as something that nobody should do. I think the physical benefits of yoga are outstanding! But me, personally, I would rather do yoga with other Christians and listening to Christian music if I have the choice. Speaking of, I do know of some amazing and wonderful Christian yoga experts, some of which I’ll be speaking alongside in September at the International Christian Wellness Conference, and I’m thrilled.

And it’s not to say that I won’t try yoga classes in a limited way as I recover from surgery, but here it is: Any teachings intended to infect the heart and mind that aren’t biblical shouldn’t be anywhere near the Christian. And if I can avoid those situations, I will. I know that sounds narrow-minded, but we’re on a narrow road. My health is a means of praise and my center is Jesus.

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Run With Me

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." --Hebrews 12:1

Read: Hebrews 12

As you may have read on some of the posts, I love to run. And while I’m no elite runner, I simply enjoy competing against myself and always try to beat my best times. Before my last race (a half marathon), I told Jimmy, “Even if I beat it by one second I’ll be happy.” Well, on mile No. 9, I began to fatigue and I knew by my watch that I was at risk of not running my best race. At that moment, someone ran up beside me and asked me what time I was shooting for. I told him I wanted to beat 1:57. He said “Okay let’s do it. That's the pace I want to keep."

We pushed each other through miles 10, 11 and 12. At mile 13, I yelled to my new friend “Let’s go, we’re almost there!” As I crossed the finish, I heard Jimmy call my name and first thing I asked him was, “What was my time?” Jimmy was set up to receive texts alerts so he knew right away. He looked up at me and said with a smile, "1:56!" I was so happy. I beat my time, and yes, it was by one second! At that very moment, my new friend and running partner ran up to me and gave me a big, sweaty hug. He told me this was his first race ever, and he simply wanted to get under the two-hour mark. He was ecstatic that he was able to do it.

You know, I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. He picked me (of all the other runners) to help him in his first race. And in doing so, he helped me with mine. Maybe it's Jimmy rubbing off on me, but it was neat for a "run" to remind me of my "walk." In today’s verse it reads, “and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  Well that’s my heart's desire. I hope in everything I say and do I’m running in such a way as to be like Christ, just in case someone wants to run with me.

–-Loretta Peña

Loretta is a graduate of California Lutheran University and lives in Woodland Hills with her husband -- PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña -- and their two pups, The Outlaw Ms. Josey Whales and Queen Madeline. She loves the Lord, enjoys running, watching her beloved New York Yankees, all things Disney and sings a mean karaoke. 

Josh-snow3 TIPS TO A BETTER STRIDE

Looking for a more efficient, pain-free stride as you pursue your own running goals in 2013? Run down this no-nonsense checklist to start logging better runs today and feel free to share your own running tips in the comments section below.

RELATED: PrayFit endorser and American 50k record holder Josh Cox talks about life, running and faith. Click here for more.

TRAFFIC

October 28, 2011Read: Ecclesiastes 7

"The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride." --Ecclesiastes 7:8

I could hear it in his voice. Dejected, defeated, exhausted, PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena was in his third hour of a commute that should take 45 minutes. Those familiar with Southern California freeways can relate to the emotional roller coaster of emerging from a sea of brake lights with renewed hope, only to pull to a screeching halt a quarter mile ahead. Accidents, curious passersby, construction -- all things beyond his control. Tonight, Jimmy was, as ever, at the mercy of the pace provided.

Life can be the same way. Just when we think that we are ready to meander into the fast lane, we are pinned in by other obstacles and forced to stay put until the traffic eases. In these moments, we may want to lay on the horn or maneuver for the next closest exit but invariably, the best play is to exercise patience and wait it out.

Are you stuck in one of life's jams, physically or spiritually? In need of Godspeed? Stay in your lane and let Him guide you through. Someday the rearview will reveal that there really was no better place on earth, than on the road that led to Heaven.

And oh, for the record, Jimmy made it home just fine. It was much later than he may have wanted but he arrived safely to a smiling wife and a silent embrace that seemed to absorb all of the frustration of the road behind him. Someday, we'll all be so blessed.

--E.V.

PRAYFIT WEEK IN REVIEW

Faith

>> WE'RE PAGE-TURNERS: If you love the Author, the end will be better than expected

>> THE ONE WHO CALLS: Believe it or not, you're in the same class pharoahs and kings

>> THE MOMENT AT HAND: Let's clear our throats and make the most of our opportunities today

>> NO OTHER WORD FOR GRACE: It may be worth novels but a single word will do

Fitness

>> WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Use mechanical advantage to enhance your productivity

>> TEST THE MACHINE: Make practice out of setting the bar high and hurdling it the next day

>> SMARTER SOUP: Liven up this comfort food with a few easy tips

>> MUSCLE FOOD: Add eggs to your breakfast to get stronger

 

 

 

PASSING THE FAITH ALONG

July 21, 2011Read: John 14

“You know the way to the place where I am going.” --John 14:4

Hope nobody’s tired of this week’s marathon theme, because I’m definitely not running out of topics (Ouch!). But I did see something at the race that made me tilt my head and squint my eyes just a bit; something that seemed out of place–a relay team.

I never thought of a marathon as a team sport, but as it turns out, you can run relay-style. Every few minutes or so, I’d see someone run by carrying a baton they’d received from their forerunner, and I realized they’re not in the race alone; for them to be running, there needed to be a hand off.

As believers, it’s neat to think that as we run, we’re collectively carrying a light that Jesus himself lit miles and miles ago. My forerunner was a sweet man named Henry Powell. Because of him, I’m in the race. And although I haven’t always kept pace, because of my ‘preacher man’, I know where I’ll be when I run out of road.

Who was your forerunner?

–J.P.

SO YOU WANNA RUN A MARATHON? (continued)

So if you have managed to stick to the site all week, you will have noticed a developing theme. First, we discussed how beginners should approach their training. Here, we'll speak to the intermediates and our more advanced runners who are looking to make a serious impression on the course.

INTERMEDIATE: If you regularly run 20 to 30 miles a week, and have done so for a year or more, you’re an intermediate. Intermediates also likely do a weekly long run of 8-10 miles and have some experience with tempo runs or intervals. They’ve run 10K races and maybe even finished a half marathon. The rare, elite category of intermediates may have already run a full marathon but are now ready to set more challenging goals for their race times.

>> The Plan: “Long runs are the basis of marathon training, but at this level it’s important to add some intensity to the program,” says anaerobic management coach John Sinclair (www.anaerobic.net). So, you’ll gradually increase the length of the weekly long run to adapt your mind and body to the rigors of running nonstop for several hours. But running 18 to 20 miles at a time isn’t all you need, so you’ll supplement these runs with some higher-effort running twice weekly, including sustained tempo runs at your half-marathon race pace. These promote aerobic strength and efficiency and will help you find that groove you’d like to be in when you run a longer race, according to Sinclair. You’ll also be doing a smattering of speed work. For more specific tips, visit www.runnersworld.com.

ADVANCED: Advanced runners are veterans — those who have been at it for at least three or four years that routinely log 35 to 40 miles a week, with a splash of interval training mixed in for good measure. Advanced runners have likely run the full gamut of races from the 5K up to the marathon. But even elite runners want to score that most prized runner’s achievement — the PR, the absolute fastest 26.2 miles you’re capable of. They may also have ideas of crossing the tape first in a given division.

>> The Plan: “You’ll have to be willing to hit 50 miles a week,” Sinclair says. “For an advanced marathon effort, inadequate miles just won’t cut it.” At this level, your goal is to learn how to maintain a strong, solid pace for several hours. So, along with the standard long runs, you’re going to spend two days a week developing stamina at half marathon, 10K, and 5K race paces. On Thursdays, you’ll be served a marathon goal pace/tempo/cruise combo platter — an extended effort that develops focus, strength, and the capacity to hold a strong pace as fatigue sets in. “Long runs and mileage get you to the finish line,” says Sinclair. “Intensity in your training will get you to the finish line faster.”

Source: Runner’s World

HEARD: “Not only is Jimmy Pena one of my best friends, but whenever I want to get dialed-in for a role or photo shoot, he’s my only call. And I love starting my day at PrayFit.com, building spiritual and physical muscle. A one-of-a-kind concept from the best in the business.”

Mario Lopez, host, EXTRA

>> To hear what others are saying about PrayFit, click here.

HIGHER

July 14, 2011Read: Genesis 1

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." -- Genesis 1:1

Experts agree that with NASA's launch last week, man has officially traveled as high as he'll ever go. Thirty years after the shuttle's first mission to the final frontier, the program lifted off on its last.

Oh my friends, we may not be able to puncture space, but the composer and conductor of the universe will someday take us much higher. The galaxies we can't reach are not out of His, and what we call the final frontier is really just the beginning. Our limits are good reminders that He has none. Astrologists may tell us the sun is the center of it all, but if we want to go even higher, we'd be wise to seek the Son...the center of it all.

-J.P.

6 TIPS FOR MINDFUL EATING

A National Institute of Health (NIH) study on binge eaters examined how eating pace affected satiety but the results can be broadly applied by anyone looking to achieve or keep to a healthy weight.

According to the research, which was reported in the Harvard Medical School newsletter, digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system, and it seems to take about 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety (fullness). If someone eats too quickly, satiety may occur after overeating instead of putting a stop to it. There’s also reason to believe that eating while we’re distracted by activities like driving or typing may slow down or stop digestion similar to how the “fight or flight” response does. And if we’re not digesting well, we may be missing out on the full nutritive value of some of the food we’re consuming. Use their six tips to maintain reasonable sized portions and to get more nutritive value out of what you're eating.

1 Set a timer to 20 minutes and use the entire time to eat a normal-sized meal.

2 Try eating with your non-dominant hand. If you're a righty, hold your fork in your left hand during meals.

3 Use chopsticks if you don't normally use them.

4 Eat silently for five minutes, thinking about what it took to produce that meal, from the sun's rays to the farmer to the grocer to the cook.

5 Take small bites and chew well.

6 Ask yourself if you're really hungry before foraging through the fridge or pantry.

>> APPAREL & GEAR: Make a fashion-forward statement about your dedication to faith and fitness by shopping at the PrayFit online store.

RIGHTING LESSONS

June 27, 2011Read: Acts 2

"You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence." --Acts 2:27-28

Yesterday, in our tiny cul-de-sac, I spent some time trying to teach my youngest daughter how to ride a tricycle. After helping her place her feet on the pedals, I gave the back of her seat a gentle but sustained nudge to show her how pedaling should feel. For Ella, watching her tiny, sandaled feet make their revolutions was more exciting than monitoring the road ahead. We had to stop several times because she'd start an inadvertent turn into the curb or gutter, only to have me pull her back at the last second. As we went on, she got more comfortable. She seemed to catch on quickly to the fact that we'd only go as fast as I was willing to push and that if danger loomed, I'd be there to help her right her course.

Our Father guides us through life in similar fashion. Only by walking (or riding) with Him do we sustain a safe pace and a steady course. And when we do veer off the path, He's always there to pull us back to safety to continue the journey...together.

--E.V.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Static Strength

In breaking from the more dynamic, high-energy workouts that usually appear here on Mondays, this week's workout is a bit static...literally. We're going to take one exercise which doesn't allow you to move whatsoever. The stationary wall squat is an isometric (or static) exercise that works to strengthen your entire lower body (quads, glutes, hamstrings), all without movement.

The execution is simple: lean against the wall with your legs bent at 90-degree angles (or close to it) for as long as possible. Be sure to time yourself so the next time you try this move you can beat your time to failure. The thing about isometric exercises is that they're angle-specific, meaning you gain strength at only the angle you're working. So for that reason, when you reach fatigue at one angle, and after a brief rest period, you change the angle.

Try this: Place your feet 2-3 feet from a stable wall and lean your back against it. Make sure you back is fully supported from your hips to your head. Gently slide down the wall until your legs are bent at 90-degree angles. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, hold that position for as long as possible and note the time. Rest about 30 seconds and repeat. As you find you can't hold the low position for quite as long, straighten your legs to raise your body up the wall a few inches and repeat the hold. Continue to work your way up the wall until you're almost to a standing position. The key is to work as many different angles as possible so you gain strength throughout the sitting-standing range of motion

>> BOOKS & GEAR: Structured workouts, detailed meal plans and 56 daily devotionals highlight our book “PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days.” Order yours at our online store today, or pick up a hat, shirt or wristband for your faith-and-fitness minded loved ones.

 

BE FIRST

July 14, 2011Read: John 18

"Peter again denied it, and at once the rooster crowed." -- John 18:27

I can relate to Peter. In one moment, he declares adamantly he would never deny he knew who Jesus was; the next, he does it not once...not twice...but thrice. But still, what motivates me about Peter was that while he wasn't perfect, he was the one who stepped up. He may not have always been right, but he was never in doubt. First to reach for his sword to defend the Lord (only to be taught a quick lesson in self-control), and first to get out of the boat (only to be the example of how we sink without faith). But if you notice a common thread in the stories of Peter, the more he was first to fall, the more he learned to stand.

In our pursuit of a stronger faith, as well as to better health, we often make bold declarations that we will pray more, train more, and eat better...only to do the exact opposite the next moment. But friends, take courage. Keep being first. Set the pace with your family and friends. Remember, Peter knows what it's like to declare and fail, and to step out and sink. Pursuing obedience is a staggering undertaking. Fortunately, like Peter the pacesetter, we have a Savior who reaches further than the fall.

--J.P.

DEFINING INTENSITY

For as often as we espouse the virtues of high-intensity training, some may find our fitness tips to be a bit intimidating. After all, working harder than you're accustomed to never sounds like a fun undertaking. And while there are some actual, defining guidelines for intensity -- i.e. working to 95% of your max effort on an interval run -- you can take heart knowing that it is also relative.

One example is interval walking. If you're not up to performing sprints, you can simply speed up the pace of your walks. Try walking at a faster clip for 30 seconds, then falling back into your normal pace for 1-4 minutes. As you progress, speed up the pace -- it may not be long before you're into a slow jog -- and/or shorten rest periods. Ideally, you want to work toward 30-second "sprints" followed by one-minute "walks." One study showed that subjects who performed 4-6, 30-second sprints three times per week burned more bodyfat than those who did traditional steady-state cardio. But the term "sprint" is a measure of effort, rather than speed.

You don't have to be a sprinter to get the fat-burning, heart-healthy benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). By applying the basic tenets of  HIIT to your cardio and implementing concept of progression, you can start right where you are -- today.

>> GIFT SHOPPING FOR DAD: Looking for a good Father’s Day gift? Visit PrayFit’s online store to pick up a hat, shirt, wristband or book for the dads in your life!