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Monthly Archives: February 2017

A Simple 5K Running Plan

Running is by far one of the cheapest ways to get fit. All you need are shoes, some gym/running clothes and you’re all set! It is common for most people who want to lose weight to begin some sort of a running regimen.

Running your first 5k is a great benchmark by which you can test your cardiovascular fitness. Running a 5k race (whether timed in an official event or by yourself) will not only challenge you but will also give you a sense of fulfillment when you finish. You know the feeling of accomplishing something you never thought you’d be able to achieve? That’s the feeling you’ll get when you run your first 5k. Anyone can run a 5k if you put your heart to it. If you haven’t run beyond 1k or more, then this guide is excellent for you.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re on the heavy side and would like to run a 5k, you can do the guide below but please be sensitive about your knees. When you experience pain in your knees, as in pain in the joints, then they are experiencing too much pressure and impact when running. The way to go around this is to brisk walk instead. When you start to lose weight, there will be less pressure your knees and you can eventually progress to running.

Unless you’re coming off of an injury, I assume that you already know how to run. Who doesn’t? It’s a basic human survival skill. Our ancestors run to hunt and run to stay away from harm.

Progression

The 5k run is perfect for busy people such as myself. It’s neither too long such as a half-marathon (21k) nor too short (3k).  It’s just right for a sprint (if you want to challenge yourself) or for a quick run (normal pacing).

While some people could run a 5k almost immediately, it’s also good to give the body some time to adapt to the stress of running a 5k.

The main idea behind the progression is that you’ll do two types of runs: slow/steady jog pace, fast and short. When training, do not mind your time, the first goal is to FINISH not to FINISH fast. You can worry about finishing fast when you’re able to complete a 5k already. Please note that there are many ways to train for a 5k but this is the way I did it.

Week 1:

The goal this week is to introduce your body to a 2km run, just to get a feel of it. A 5k is just a little over twice what you’re going to run here. The 1km fast pace run is to prepare and train your body for a little more cardiovascular exertion. This will help you increase your cardiovascular strength so you don’t gas out easily.

Monday – 2km run – slow/steady jog pace

Wednesday – 1km run – fast pace – as fast as you can, a level which you’re comfortable

Friday – 2km run – slow/steady jog pace

Week 2:

We ramp up the pace for the 2nd week by beginning with a 2km fast pace run. You’ll progress to running a 3k and end the week with a 1k fast pace run (try to run faster than your 1k fast run in week 1).

Monday – 2km run – fast pace

Wednesday 3km run – slow/steady pace

Friday – 1km run – fast pace

Week 3:

By week 3, you would’ve already have (hopefully) gotten a feel of how far a 5k really is when you’ve successfully finished a 3k. After all, that’s only 2k shy of 5k! Also by now, you would’ve already developed a certain cardiovascular fitness level that would be enough to last you 5k. You will be huffing and puffing yes, but you will not gas out (owing to the fast pace runs which really stretch your V02 max).

Week 3 is about running slow/steady progressively farther and farther starting with a 3k on Monday and ending with a 5k on Friday. Congratulations!

Monday – 3km run slow/steady

Wednesday – 4km run slow/steady

Friday – 5km run slow/steady

Some Notes

Running a 5k is a great way to find fitness. Your first goal is to finish a 5k and your next goal is to beat your time. I remember when I ran my first 5k, it took me over an hour! That’s because I literally walked most of the time! The next time I did a 5k, I was prepared. The sense of achievement was addicting and now I am running half marathons. All of this took less than a year but I always come back to that time when I trained for a 5k.

 

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Brussels sounds alarm over supply of medical radioactive supplies

Brussels – World supplies of radioactive substances for use in medicine are reliant on a dangerously low number of producers and risk running out, the European Union’s executive warned on Friday.

A radioactive isotope known as Technetium-99m is the active ingredient in treatments ranging from brain scans to fighting cancer. But the element from which it comes, Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), is produced in only a handful of ageing research reactors.

“Worldwide, only seven government-owned research reactors provide about 95 per cent of the world’s Mo-99 production … As those reactors were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, they are approaching the end of their lifespan,” the European Commission said.

Five of the seven reactors are in the EU, in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands and Poland.

Technetium-99m is used in a wide variety of medical applications because its half-life – the time it takes to decay – is relatively short, meaning that it quickly disappears from a patient’s body.

But the same factor means that it cannot be stored for extended periods. Hospitals therefore require weekly supplies of the isotope.

“Any supply disruption can lead to a situation where crucial diagnostic imaging tests must be cancelled or postponed, with negative and sometimes life-threatening consequences for patients,” the commission said.

At the same time, market prices for the isotope are too low to tempt commercial reactor operators to start producing it.

EU states should therefore think about using some of the bloc’s finances to promote new isotope production, the commission said.

The idea now goes to EUstates and the European Parliament for debate.

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How to Get More Vitamin D

 

The reality is that most of us just aren’t getting enough Vitamin D. With jobs, school, commitments and sunscreen, the most natural way of getting Vitamin D just isn’t happening. That is why it is important to make sure that you take the steps to ensure that you and your family are getting enough of this crucial nutrient.

Why We Need D

Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to multiple serious health problems, such as depression, heart disease, osteoporosis and even cancer! Your doctor can check your Vitamin D levels with a simple blood test.

Why Aren’t We Getting Enough D

Eating right and taking a supplement can help with Vitamin D levels but the reality is that despite these steps, most people, especially women still aren’t getting enough Vitamin D. The best way to get that D is through the natural process that our bodies do, converting sunlight into Vitamin D.

Most of us tend to stay indoors all day, where long sleeved shirts and long pants and use sunscreen religiously, so our bodies don’t have the opportunity to make the Vitamin D that we need.

How to Get More Vitamin D

Getting more Vitamin D isn’t hard. Just spending 10 to 15 minutes per day outside with your arms and legs exposed will do the trick to maintain the right levels. You might be able to get that much just walking around the block or back and forth to your car.

There are other ways to get Vitamin D, of course. You could take a supplement. Most women need between 1,000 and 1,200 IU a day, although if you have gotten tested, your doctor could prescribe the proper amount for you based on your current levels. Most multivitamins give you less than half of that amount.

There aren’t too many foods that have enough Vitamin D in them. To get this nutrient from food, you’ll have to eat a lot of fortified milk, cheese and other dairy products. Salmon, tuna and mackerel have some D in them as well.

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Resistance and Breaking Out

I got the idea about this post as I was trading stocks (part of the day job, yes). In trading (stocks, futures, interest rates, commodities, etc.) there is what you call a resistance level. It is a level by which the price movement upward is met by a strong selling force. It is in this level wherein traders, investors, and other market players deem the price level too high and sell their holdings. In any kind of market, once you have a lot of sellers, prices stall or go down (basic economics, more supply than demand causes prices to go down).

Now, I realized that it’s not only in trading stocks or whatever that we find resistances. There is resistance that prevents us from starting something new. There is resistance when we’re trying to get promoted in our job. There is resistance when we want to achieve the fitness level that we want.

Simply put, resistance is the force that prevents you from getting things done. To quote Steven Pressfield, in his new book, “Do the Work”:

You see resistance when you engage in an act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity.

Have you ever wondered why starting something new, such as a disciplined fitness regimen has so much resistance (“oh I can’t do that”, “I don’t have the genetics”, etc.)?

It’s because engaging in the act (starting your first fitness regimen), will make you uncomfortable. You will experience pain and hardship. I always remember that time I started circuit training. I absolutely hated doing burpees. It gassed me out after a few reps. It was painful just thinking about performing those exercises.

The funny thing about resistance is that it is always there. Congratulations, if you’ve started a fitness regimen for yourself. That’s already a big step. The next resistance awaits when you reach a plateau. It could be a weight that you can’t lift or a body fat level that you just can’t crack. Whatever it is, resistance is going to be there trying to keep you at bay.

In trading there is what you call a break out. A break out happens when a strong force finally pushes through resistance after repeated failed attempts. A recent example is Silver which has broken out to new price levels last February 2011. It has been trying to break out from the $30 resistance level. On the third attempt, it was able to breakout. It reached a high of more than $45 just this April 2011. That’s more than a 50% gain in price! ()

Fortunately, one can also break out from life’s resistances. Just as a stock is able to breakout from a price level its been stuck with. The bad news is, it’s going to be a lot of work. Also, when resistance is met, this is also the time when people start looking for the magic pill, the cure it all, don’t fall into that trap. Instead, here’s how to break out from your own resistance levels

  1. Take a break and understand the problem – taking a break will give you some perspective. It will also give you time to understand the problem and to formulate a systematic way on solving the problem. I see this a lot especially with those of my friends who are undergoing a powerlifting program. They will work out a systematic plan on how to deadlift more than 1.5x their weight. Whether it be changing the rep ranges, periodizing, or changing their diet. They will work out a plan and attempt to destroy the plateau
  2. Pound it to the ground consistently– realize that the resistance will always be there. But it won’t be for long if you keep on pounding it. One day, it will just break, and the longer time you spend on pounding the resistance (working on your plan and revising the plan as needed), the greater your breakthrough will be. Work on it everyday!
  3. Focus on the Cause not on the effect – The reason people quit right before they get their desired result is that they become too impatient. This usually happens when people focus on the effect. Once they see nothing is happening, or the results aren’t coming by as quickly as expected, they blame their genetics, they blame themselves and quit. Sadly, most people quit when they’re just 3 feet from the gold. If you work on the cause (keeping with the workout plan, sticking with the diet everyday, progressively lifting heavier, etc.) you’ll see the effect sooner or later.

Resistances are always there to test us. If they weren’t there, then everything would be easy and there would be nothing to look forward to. I’ve had my break out moments and I hope you experience yours. I’m working on destroying the next resistances in my life how about you?

 

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Reheating the Mammography Debate: More Smoke than Fire

Music, we’re told, can soothe the savage breast.  Data about breasts, in contrast, can ignite rather savage controversy, and propagate confusion.

That seems to be the immediate result of a newly reported study that found a 26% mortality reduction with routine mammography for women in their 40s.   This would just be good news, if prior studies had not failed to confirm just such a benefit- and if the US Preventive Services Task Force had not recently weighed in against routine screening for women under age 50.

The new study, conducted in Sweden, involved roughly a million women.  Combine a large study; high profile media coverage; a politically charged topic; and a large reservoir of passion, and you have a very combustible mix indeed!  Let’s put out the fire.

First, the new study looked at the benefits of mammography only, not its harms. It took advantage of a natural experiment in Sweden: some counties offered mammograms routinely, others did not.  Mortality was 26% less overall in those counties that did. 

You should immediately think to ask: 26% lower than what?  Breast cancer is less common among women under 50 to start with.  The flip side of the risk/benefit equation is reflected in the fact that well over 1,000 women under 40 need to be screened for ten years before screening saves one life.  Perhaps still worth it- but 1,000 women screened for ten years, with all of the resultant false positive tests and biopsies that ensue from that- is not a trivial price to pay to find that one case that really needed to be found.

We also don’t know from the Swedish study what else may have differed between counties that did and counties that didn’t screen.  Maybe those that did screen also provided better care- and the apparent survival benefit was more about treatment than screening.  Maybe the populations differed in other important ways.

There are many reasons why mammography before 50 is controversial while mammography after 50 is not.  For starters, breast cancer is substantially more common after menopause than before.  Screening is of greatest value when what you are looking for is neither too common, nor too rare.  When breast cancer is relatively rare, screening produces many false positives for every true one.

Second, younger women tend to have denser breasts, making mammograms harder to interpret- and increasing the risks of both missing cancer, and false positives.  Third, breast cancer in women under 50 often grows faster- reducing the benefits of screening.  It might be that the best screening for younger women would be twice a year, rather than once- although that, in turn, might increase the harms of radiation exposure.  We await the studies that would answer this question.

When the new study is scrutinized, and compared against what we thought we knew before- there is more smoke here than fire.  The official recommendation in the US was neither for, nor against, mammography in women under 40; rather, it was for individualized decision making because the risk/benefit trade-off is a very close call.  For a given woman, the benefits of mammography may clearly outweigh the risks; but for others, they may not.  You and your doctor can review your risk factors, and decide. If you decide to be screened, your insurance company should certainly pay.

The new study is certainly noteworthy- but it really shouldn’t start a  fire.  The pros and cons of mammography in younger women, just about evenly balanced, are still simmering as they ever were.   Let them, and your passions on the topic, cool- and confer with your doctor about the right strategy for you.  The news may be new, but your options are just as they were this time last week. 

 

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