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REACH Team Training Blog


Welcome to the REACH Team Training Blog!  We're back for the 2013 season!

 

THE BLOG IS BACK! Follow along with the daily updates and progress reports of various REACH related activities and efforts happening among your colleagues around Ramsey County.

You can be a part of our team!

To go back to the REACH webpage, go to: Return to REACH.

 

 

What we're up to......................

  • Twin Cities Marathon Sunday - 10 Mile Run - Several Ramsey County employees are teaming together to give it a good run in the TC Marathon 10 Mile Run, downtown to downtown, Sunday early morning of October 6, 2013! Track our progress toward reaching the ultimate goal of 26.2 miles through the Twin Cities.
  • Minneapolis Duathlon - Several Ramsey County employees are joining hundreds of other Twin Cities individuals to hit the Mississippi River road for a fun 5K run/18 mi bike ride/5K run duathlon on Sunday, August 25, 2013.  Registration for this event is still open online at www.minneapolisdu.org
  • Your event here?

Ready to hit the running or walking trail this season?  Check out our training programs for all levels of REACH mates..........

(Click below on icon to view plan)

5K - New Runner  Great 6 week program designed for someone who has never run before is just starting their run training program for the first time and preparing to run a 5K (3.1 mile) event. The gentlest training plan of all these programs.

5K - Recreational Runner  Great 6 week program designed for someone who is just starting their run training program for the first time and wants to ramp up their fitness level to comfortably finish a 5K (3.1 mile) event. Slightly greater fitness demands than the New Runner program.

5K - Competitive Runner  Great 6 week program designed for someone who has roughly two seasons of running experience and who may want to increase speed and stamina for running a 5K (3.1 mile) event.

5K - Race Walker  Great 6 week program designed for someone who is just starting their walking training program for the first time and is interested in building endurance to walk a 5K (3.1 mile) event.

10K - Novice Runner  Great 8 week program designed for someone who is just starting their run training program for the first time and wishes to prepare to run their first 10K (6.2 mile) event.  This program assumes the runner has done some walking or jogging.

10K - Intermediate Runner  Great 8 week program designed for someone who has some regular weekly running experience and wishes to prepare to increase stamina and speed for finishing a 10K (6.2 mile) event.  This program assumes the runner may have run some 5K events.

10K - Advanced Runner  Great 8 week program designed for someone who has regularly run and has finished some 10K events and wishes to increase their stamina and speed for finishing a 10K (6.2 mile) event.  This program assumes the runner runs 30 to 60 minutes several times a week.

Follow our blog.......................

  • September 5, 2013 -- Progress continues (Posted by George Hamm; 8:17am)

Training plan continues.  It's great to have other Ramsey Runners prepping for the October 10 mi run along with me.

  • July 30, 2013 -- New Shoes! (Posted by George Hamm; 1:52pm)

A great pair of running shoes, fitted to your feet, are the critical piece of equipment needed to protect your health if you decide to hit the running trail.  A doctor once told me "pay for a good pair of running shoes, or pay me a whole lot more later." Remembering that advice, I stopped by a local running specialty store and picked up a new pair of shoes. Good investment.  Not all shoes, or feet, are created equally, and it pays to have a store rep fit your foot to the proper shoe.

  • July 26, 2013 -- Training plan begins anew  (Posted by George Hamm; 1:10pm)

Training Plans begin anew with a new goal in mind this year--run the TC Marathon 10 Mile run and have fun!  As the photo attests, fellow REACH Employee Wellness Committee member, Bob Bue, and I successfully ran the Guthrie 5K earlier this season.  Great start, and excellent showing for Bob in his first running event. 

I'm recuperating from a bad right knee that started last November, post marathon.  Wellness means good physical fitness, good outlook and good nutrition.  But I recently discovered, it also means taking care of your body with help from medical providers. I sought some information and advice about what was going on with my knee from a sports medicine specialist.  Fortunately, I visited with a fellow marathoner.  X-rays confirmed that I had no injury or signs of arthritis, good news.  I got some great advice on a knee brace for "jumpers knee" and a great book with workout routines to build core muscles for bicyclists.  All good stuff.  I'm on the road to better balance and fitness.  Nice 2 mile training run today at noon time as I start out my 10 mile run training program.

  • October 8, Post Race Thoughts--Things don't always turn out as anticipated  (Posted by George Hamm; 8:14am)

The Twin Cities Marathon is history.  What an experience on so many levels.  From anticipation, elation, disappointment, relief, celebration.  This event blew my mind in how thousands of folks lined the route to cheer and celebrate and encourage us on.  It was a lot of cheers and high fives.  I wore my distinctive NEW ZEALAND jersey, so I laughed whenever someone gave a shout out to me like "Go Kiwi!"  The race began early at the Metrodome with around 25 to 30 degrees F.  Very cold for me, I had 4 layers of clothing on.  When I started off, I was pacing behind the 4 hrs, 30 min pacer.  I caught up with the 4hr, 30min pacer at Lake of the Isles.  I was feeling great, having fun and felt like kicking up my pace to reach the 4hr pacer.  I met up with the 4hr pacer around Lake Harriet somewhere and passed by, falling in with a group of runners that felt comfortable for me.  I think I maintained that pace until around Mile 20 when I felt myself slowing down, but I expected that to happen and was pacing at around 3hr-45min, ahead of my goal.  Part of the strategy I employed was to "rest" at the water stations to fuel up and walk through the station.  Disappointment came on around Mile 23 (on Summit Avenue near Victoria and Dale) when I felt my legs cramp up and I couldn't get back up to a run, or even a jog.  I began to walk the last incline up to the Ramsey Hill area.  I thought I might be able to start running again at the Cathedral and the big descent toward the finish line.  But, each time I tried, my left calf cramped.  I was determined to finish the race even if I had to walk but clear that I didn't want to come away with an injury.  My muscles had mutinied, so I had to find a truce--reaching the finish line walking the final 2 miles.  I was disappointed to have had to walk the final 2 miles or so of the course to the finish line, but the first time I saw the finish line I felt such relief and determination.  I crossed the finish at a walk pace, missing my 4 hour goal by about 12 minutes.  Final time 4hr, 11min, 41sec.  I felt great when I received my finisher's medal and called it a day when my running partner, Marshall and I celebrated on a giant sized cheeseburger and fries. 

  • October 5, Last Pre-race Post  (Posted by George Hamm; 1:01pm)

This is probably my last pre-marathon race post.  I'm sitting here, just back from race packet pickup at the RiverCentre and chowing down on a big plate of mastacioli, probably more food than generally eat in a whole day.  This is it.  Sunday AM, at 8:00, it'll be time to step off.  I'm trying to approach this as fun, kind of like a beautiful scenic tour of the Twin Cities, only on foot, with about 12,000 other folks.  I'll check in next week.  Til then, Cheers!

  • October 2, Carbo-loading?  (Posted by George Hamm; 8:06am)

Carbo-loading.  I've heard the term before but never would I ever have thought it would apply to me.  This is the final week of preparation before the TCMarathon event on Sunday.  I love pasta but it doesn't sit well with me, so I reckon I will go with a hearty beef stew instead and start eating up Thursday night.  The bigger question is what to wear for the race, layer wise.  With a race time start temp predicted to be 27 degrees F, I will need to layer up but be able to shed layers as the temperature rises and my body heat follows.  It's all new and unexplored territory.  Packet pick up is this Thursday.  I'm told that folks can download a phone app from the Twin Cities Marathon website and follow any racer along the route by entering the chip/race number of the participant.  If anybody's so inclined, my race number is 4926.  If you're on the route and want to look for me, I should be sporting my distinctive black and white colored NEW ZEALAND jersey, and shorts (weather permitting).

  • October 1, One Week and Counting  (Posted by George Hamm; 7:40am)

I completed the last long run on my 18 week training plan this weekend.  I ran 8 miles in the predawn hours of Sunday.  The morning was still and dark, but beautiful.  This week is mostly resting time.  Sometimes my brain thinks resting just before the event seems odd but resting is a big part of preparing for the big event coming this Sunday--the Twin Cities Marathon.

  • September 21, Cool Running (Posted by George Hamm; 1:12pm)

4 mile noontime training run today.  Four miles strangely now seems so short, like a quick run around the block.  As anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm a freeze-baby, and can't stand cold weather.  Autumnal equinox today I believe.  Bummer, that means summer is now OFFICIALLY over and fall begins, although the recent temps suggest to me that fall started back around September 4th.

  • September 19, Week 16 of Training Plan Continues, I think I'm ready for the big event  (Posted by George Hamm, 2:08pm)

I'm now working through Week 16 of my TC Marathon training plan.  I finished up an 8 mile run this noon time, but I have to confess that I'm ready to be done with training and "get on with it," so the saying goes.  Ready for the TC Marathon--just a few weeks away now.

  • September 18, 5K tour run--what a way to see Boston!  (Posted by Tonya Hanson, 10:44am)

Last month my boyfriend and I went on vacation to North East US. A couple years ago I had decided to try to run a race/event in every state, so going out east allowed me to get another couple states under my belt. Most of our time was spent in Boston, but we briefly travelled up to Maine to run a 5k near Portland, ME.   In Boston, we found the perfect opportunity to combine both our touristy travel plans and a run - The Freedom Trail Run - in downtown Boston.  Basically, this run was led by our tour guide along the Freedom Trail, which is a brick-lined route in Boston which connects several historical sites significant in American Revolution History.  The run was approximately 5k (3.1 miles), running from site to site with the longest stretch being about 1/2 mile.  The pace was comfortable for various running levels.  My boyfriend doesn't enjoy running as much as I do, yet he thought this tour was the highlight of our trip.  For $35, this was a great deal and a super fun opportunity.  The price included a tour (and the tour guide was great), a t-shirt, a beverage, a ferry boat ride and exercise to boot!  I would highly recommend a running tour for your next vacation.  Here are several links to various running tour sites including Freedom Trail Run.

 

http://www.freedomtrailrun.com/

http://www.cityrunningtours.com/

http://www.globalrunningtours.com/

 

And you don't even need to leave town for a running tour.  There are at least a couple groups that offer tours in our own back yard with several routes in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  I think I may try to check one out this fall and learn more about my fabulous home town.

 

http://www.cityrunningtours.com/minneapolis.html

http://www.twincitiesjoggingtours.com/

  • September 17, 20 Mile Training Run is Done  (Posted by George Hamm, 7:30am)

Well, the longest run of my training plan is done, and now each week will taper back on the mileage as I head toward October 7th and the Twin Cities Marathon.  Spending the time running with my TCM running mate and friend, Marshall, is great.  Having a running mate makes the effort much easier and allows for great conversation as well.  We had the pleasure of sharing our route with hundreds of bike riders while they completed the Minneapolis Bike Tour.  I was also happy our route included a pass by Mary Richards' (aka Mary Tyler Moore's character) old house just north of Lake of the Isles.  Had I been wearing a hat, I would have felt inclined to toss it up in the air.

  • September 13, The benefit of having a coach  (Posted by George Hamm, 9:13am)

I've recently discovered the value of having a coach to help me keep on keepin' on during my marathon training program.  A couple of weeks back, I had a very challenging day while running my 18 mi long distance training run.  It seemed like my muscles and joints really ached and felt spent about 16 miles into the run.  I felt discouraged and questioned whether I could really do the full 26.2 miles the Twin Cities Marathon demands.  I really needed some encouraging words and found some this morning during my periodic check in with my HealthPartners' Journeywell phone coach, Hanna, who is a marathon runner and great lifter of spirits.  I don't know if other folks out there have taken advantage of the phone coaching program option on their annual Healthy Benefits fulfillment, but I highly recommend considering it.  I'm back on track and reading to head out today for 10 miles of running in prep for a 20 miler this weekend.  After that, my training program will begin to taper off in the final weeks before the October 7th event.  If you care to find my on the Marathon course, my race number is 4926 and I plan to run in my black and white NEW ZEALAND jersey.  Cheers.

  • September 10, Perfect Day for St Paul Classic Bike Tour  (Posted by George Hamm, 9:22am)

Sunday was the ideal day to explore St Paul on two wheels!  I had a wonderful time along with hundreds of other people riding around the streets of St Paul (and South St Paul) on my bike. I completed to full 41-mi long route and it felt great to pause in my running training program to enjoy a pleasure ride.  This week is the most challenging week in my entire training plan, ending with a 20-mi run this coming weekend.  Have to prepare mentally for that one.

  • September 4, Sobering time, reality hits  (Posted by George Hamm, 7:22am)

Whew, this past weekend's 18 mile training run was a very sobering experience.  My longest distance covered yet on my way toward the Twin Cities Marathon.  It was a very challenging run, and my marathon mate many years my younger definitely had staying power that I seemed to lack.  My stamina felt great, but my leg muscles and joints definitely felt it.  I've heard and read that it's important to learn the difference between ache and pain.  It wasn't pain, like injury, fortunately, but very much ache--I mean a real ache.  This training plan is pushing beyond my limits, I feel, and is probably the toughest physical challenge I've ever encountered.  My initial goal was to finish the marathon in under 4 hours.  After this weekend, I'm wondering whether I can make 4-1/2 hours, or finish at all.  It's all very confronting and sobering about meeting my physical limits and whether I am able to push beyond them.  My greatest triumph I would say is that by the next day, my muscles and joints were back to feeling just great and I was able to take a relaxing bike ride, with no particular speed in mind.  We'll see how it goes from here.

  • August 29, The importance of hydration  (Posted by George Hamm, 2:07pm)

I'm just back from a lunch time 9mile training run along the river from downtown to I-35E and back again.  I love this summer warmth, but I also understand the importance of hydration.  Proper hydration is necessary for life, and when exercising, it's critical for maintaining energy output.  I made it a part of my run today to stop at every water fountain along my route to refuel.  Here is an article I read online that applies to hydration while biking but the same basic principles apply to any outdoor physical activity........Four Hydration Tips.  If you're heading outside over the next couple of days, enjoy! and hydrate.

  • August 27, Duathlon Results Gave Me Encouragement This Weekend  (Posted by George Hamm, 8:22am)

Well, I participated in the Minneapolis Duathlon this past Sunday with a glorious 5K run/15mi Bike Ride/5K run along the Mississippi River.  I was most interested in seeing how my run times came in.  I was very pleased and encouraged at my results.  It gave me further evidence that the run training plan I've been using is working.  My first run came in at about 22 minutes, my second run in at about 23 minutes.  My overall results brought me in at 112th place out of 1,060 participants.  I was very happy and surprised.  Another long run (18mi) this coming weekend.  May the summer weather continue!

  • August 24,  Each Summer Day is a Welcomed Event  (Posted by George Hamm, 2:45pm)

Got out for a noontime 5mi run today and passed by some fellow Ramsey County runners.  The summer days are going by way too fast.  It's State Fair time already and the cold winds of winter are not too distant.  It was hot and humid and I had to remember the helpful tips on hydration and sun protection that are posted to the REACH webpage.  My advice in short?  Get out into the summer weather and have some fun!  Running and biking in the Minneapolis Duathlon this weekend on Sunday.  Great prep for my TC Marathon.

  • August 23, Nice 8mi run, and a free sandwich too!  (Posted by George Hamm, 10:12am)

It's nice when life works in such a way that you feel like you're in the right place at the right time.  Well, that happened yesterday during my noon time training run.  I needed to do an 8 mile run and so I ventured down the Mississippi River from downtown, returning and then completing a route up and around the State Capitol.  I felt great during the run which I take as validation that my efforts to work my training plan are working.  On my way across the capitol grounds I noticed a gathering of folks and promotion tables from a local radio station and credit union.  They were serving free sandwiches to everyone and so I made a quick stop and was given a free sandwich.  Nice.  I managed a great run and food.  I reckon there sometimes really is such a thing as a free lunch.

  • August 21, Great weekend it was for running  (Posted by George Hamm, 8:30am)

I was a bit doubtful that I would manage to stick with my training plan while on vacation this past weekend visiting family on the East Coast, but it all worked out.  I rose early on Saturday morning and completed my 16 mi long run, running from my parents' house to my father's workplace.  It was great to run in a totally different place with different scenery.  Then on Sunday, I managed to do one of my weekly "short" runs, about 5-1/2 mi.  I was also pleased to find out that one of my nieces is in the middle of a half marathon training plan, herself, and will be running her first half just two weeks after my TC Marathon run.  It was a great weekend for running.

  • August 16, It was a good Wednesday  (Posted by George Hamm, 2:16pm)

Yesterday I managed to get outside during noontime and complete an 8mi training run.  I was surprised because I worried that my muscles would still be recovering from this past Sunday's long run.  But it was much easier than I thought.  I think the 18 week training program is really doing its thing.  On a different note, I get quite a few news items of HR interest in my work inbox, and from time-to-time, there are some interesting articles dealing with wellness.  The issue of rising health care costs and the impact on the workforce are hard to ignore and occupy the HR journals these days.  It's not just a Ramsey County thing.  Here is a link to an interesting set of research on wellness and its impact on the workforce, just in case you might find it fascinating.......(FYI, World of Work is the professional association for compensation folks)....Poor Employee Health Habits Drive Lost Productivity

  • August 13, More than Half Way  (Posted by George Hamm, 12:07pm)

A month or two ago I never would have believed the running distance I've covered.  This past weekend, I was able to hook up with my friend with whom I will run the TC Marathon this October.   We covered about 15-1/2 miles distance at 9 min mile pace.  Nice.  Fortunately we seem to pace at pretty much the same rate, though at a little more than 1/2 my age, I think he will be a stronger overall finisher, able to keep the pace for the distance.  More importantly, though, we had fun, were able to converse (which means our level of effort was right on target), and felt energized about the event.  It was great to also run the chain of lakes and enjoy the scenery.  My muscles are not too bad today, but I will definitely have to be sure to include the rest days in my schedule this week.  I will be off to the East Coast later this week so that will certainly give me a change of running scenery next weekend--16 mi then.  I figured out by mapping it that that equates to running from my parents' house to my father's workplace and back again.  Progress!

  • August 2, Great Day for Training Run!  (Posted by George Hamm, 1:27pm)

Completing a run training plan is interesting at a variety of levels.  One level is how easy or difficult a run can be, depending on how my body is responding.  Some days, it feels graceful and effortless, feeling like I could go for miles and miles.  Other days, it feels like a struggle to even reach 1 or 2 miles.  Today, my body felt in sync with the plan, and I felt like I could go for miles.  Interesting.

  • July 30, Half Marathon Target Distance Completed!  (Posted by George Hamm, 1:20pm)

I'm halfway toward completing my 18 week marathon training program.  I managed to complete a half marathon distance of 13.1 miles this past Saturday.  Little by little I'm making my way towards my Twin Cities Marathon goal.

  • July 26, Progress being made, (Posted by George Hamm, 9:45am

Completed a 12 mile training run this past weekend in the pouring rain.  The rain felt somewhat refreshing and I figured I was as soaking wet as I was going to be in the first 2 minutes.  Looks like I need to run 13.1 miles (Half Marathon distance) this weekend.  With Saturday's 12 mile run, I felt like I was actually making progress on my overall training plan.  That's good news.

  • July 20, A NEW twist on rollerblading, (Posted by Steven Lane, 10:53am)

As a single parent trying to juggle work responsibilities, parenting and staying in shape, I try my best to use some creativity and fit exercise into my daily routine.

As I was walking my 3-year-old English Springer Spaniel last Summer, I came up with a crazy idea...."why not try rollerblading with my dog?"  She loves to run, but it's normally hard to keep up with her if I try running alongside her.  Afterall, she does have four paws and I only have two legs.

So, I put on my rollerblades, helmet and a special leash that I can wear around my waist, and away we went.  Rollerblading with your dog should be an extreme sport.  I know she's getting a great workout and it sure makes exercising with my dog a lot more interesting.  If you're thinking about doing this yourself, you can learn from my mistakes and keep in mind the following points.....

  • Make sure your route is flat, free-of-debris and relatively squirrel free until you get the hang of it down
  • Always wear your helmet, and preferably, knee, wrist and hand guards too.  A cell phone is not a bad idea either
  • Bring along some water so that both of you can take a hydration break during your little experiment
  • Try and explain to your dog in advance that while he/she can run across a neighbor's yard chasing a squirrel or rabbit, you are connected to your dog by leash and rollerblades don't roll across grass.......like, at all
  • When you're in the hospital recovering from your injuries [smile here] who is going to take care of your dog while you recuperate?

Happy 'blading!

  • July 18, Biking is fun, biking is how I get around, biking is not a chore, (Posted by George Hamm; 6:38am)

OK, I love to bike, which is great, because I mostly get to work everyday as well as most other places on two wheeled, self-propelled transportation.  The ongoing National Bike Challenge is still ongoing until the end of August, and I'm sure that the challenge encourages many folks to get on the bike and start logging the miles.  But I have to confess that I dropped out of the challenge at the end of June.  Sorry team mates, but I just couldn't stand the hassle I felt trying to keep track of miles, trying to navigate the site, and the distraction of it all.  My mind is happily back to clear when it comes to my biking.  I don't have to worry about logging in and charting miles, etc.  It's pure pleasure and pure outdoor freedom again.  There are other folks in the challenge who like the thrill of charting their individual and team progress against the other riders, and logging their miles, or letting the GPS in their smart phone chart their routes.  As for me, it's about the breeze, the peaceful sunshine and the freedom of pedalling my way across the world.  Cheers.

  • July 13, the Run Training Plan continues, (Posted by George Hamm; 2:16pm)

Managed to get in a 5mi run at noon time today.  My training plan is progressing, now in its 5th week.  The distance and total miles per week I need to complete are quickly increasing.  My long runs are now up past 10mi--quite a stretch for me.  The past couple of weeks, I've run into some challenges with sticking to the running schedule, but according to Hal Hidgon's plan advice--"you can fudge on the short runs, but be faithful to the long runs on Sundays."  Gratefully, I have been able to do just that.  Cheers.  Enjoy the incredible summer weather.

  • July 3, Wise words to deal with the heat  (Posted by George Hamm; 1:36pm)

I consider myself a bit of a summer worshipper.  I love warm weather and generally fair pretty well with hot, humid days like today.  But even I recognize the dangers the heat can pose and prepare accordingly.  I commuted by bike today and will make sure I'm outfitted with 2 icy water bottles, light, breathable clothing, and will take a very easy pace this afternoon, making some stops to refresh as I need.  I think it's a time to learn to pay close attention to the feedback your body gives you and how well you're coping with the heat.  Today I definitely appreciated the wise words from Julie Kleinschmidt, our County Manager.  In case you haven't had a chance to read it via email, or want it for later summer sweltering days, here it is............[dealing with the heat]

  • June 26, The Healing Power of Nature & Exercise, (Posted by George Hamm; 9:02am)

I've read or heard of the healing power that being out in nature and moving around can be to the mind and body.  So many organizations, e.g., Outward Bound, National Outdoor Leadership School, Boy/Girl Scouts, etc., have built programs based on this connection.  I have definitely taken advantage of this this past weekend.  Our household is facing the end of life of a beloved, long-term companion dog.  There is very little we can offer to her that we have not done for her already, besides provide comfort and hospice care.  This kind of daily stress has worn heavily on my mind and physical wellbeing.  What I've found is that even a short period of outdoor exercise or activity, even as simple as cleaning up the yard or patio, or a walk helps to connect me with nature and reduce my stress level.  A short while back, Ramsey County surveyed employees to find out what wellness issues were most important to them.  Stress reduction topped the list.  Fortunately, we can renew ourselves, even briefly, by going for a short walk, or sitting in the warm sun of summer day for a short spell.  HR has even taken the concept of renewal and now offers a stress reduction course by Chris Heeter (outdoor adventure leader).  The first step in clearing our mind and helping cope with stresses of living may be as close as the front or back door.  Cheers.

  • June 22, Ragbrai coming soon, (Posted by Sam Howell; 10:20am)

I looked at the calendar after I rode my bike to work this morning and realized that in just a month I will be embarking on a bike adventure that I never would have thought I could do just a few years ago. Each summer since 1973 the Des Moines Register has sponsored a bike ride across Iowa called RAGBRAI. Taking a different route each summer this seven day ride goes the width of Iowa from west to east. This year the route covers 471 miles. Up to 15,000 bikers ride the route on any given day. As I commute into work and go for longer rides on the weekends for training I am finding myself eager to hit the road for this weeklong challenge. I will report on my experience when I return but if you want to get a flavor of what it is like check out the RAGBRAI Website.

  • June 21, Always good to have a coach, (Posted by George Hamm; 2:05pm)

I'm sure folks who've played team sports or trained for something, athletic or otherwise, understand the benefit of having a coach, someone who is encouraging you on, and bringing out the best in your potential--especially when the going gets a bit tough.  For the second year, I signed up for a Journeywell fitness phone coach to complete my healthy benefits requirements to qualify for the reduced office copay in 2013.  Hanna, my HealthPartners phone coach, is great at giving me the best information about training for a marathon.  An experienced runner, herself, she can offer advice on training, nutrition, race day prep, shoes, etc.  With words of encouragement from her early morning phone call, I managed to knock out my training run early this morning by running to a meeting across the river, and running back to the office.  What a great way to get across town fast, and feel great as well.  If you've never considered phone coaching as an option for your Journeywell program completion, I highly recommend it.  Cheers!

  • June 20, Incremental Changes, (Posted by George Hamm; 12:25pm)

Just back from my noontime run.  Weather was cooperative today, dry and calmer climate.  One of my favorite sayings is the adage, "every journey begins with a single step."  Good reminder as I plot my path toward being able to endure, and enjoy, the 26.2 miles on the Twin Cities Marathon course.  It got me thinking about wellness in general.  I reckon that any commitment to change in our personal well-being begins with a single step.  Most changes in life (thankfully) come in incremental, sometimes imperceptible ways, including the disruptions to the travel landscape happening in downtown St Paul these days with the light rail line construction.  I found that there was no longer "there" there on my loop around the state capitol, just a fence, a dirt pile, a big dirt hole, and a big digger.  No worries, there are always different ways to go.  When the light rail is up and running it will all seem well worth it.

  • June 20, Weather this week has definitely made run training challenging, (Posted by George Hamm; 7:43am)

One of the biggest challenges I'm facing this week on my marathon training plan is finding time to run without dodging thunderstorms.  It sure has been a tumultuous week of weather.  I'm hoping to carve out a 5mi training run today in order to stay on plan.  I've heard from several other folks who have completed marathons that sticking to the  training plan is key to success.  I'll have to find that reservoir of energy and motivation to get out on the pathway today, rain or not.

  • June 19, Gotta love these long summer days,  (Posted by George Hamm; 8:54am)

One of the best things about this time of year is the length of daylight.  Wonderful long days.  There is so much outdoor activity going on.  Not all of fitness involves concerted exercise activities.  Fitness building can be discovered in many places.  For example, I am relishing tending our front yard garden (aka urban farm).  According to HealthPartners Step Conversion Chart, gardening is the equivalent of between 116 and 174 steps per minute.  There are a lot of other activities that involve physical effort.  The road to better health has many on ramps, I reckon.  On the National Bike Challenge front, the 30 riders from Ramsey County continue to log miles.  How are we doing so far? Second place among local worksites with a total mileage of 5, 930, Total calories burned of 25, 066 Kcals, Total CO2 saved of 5,428 pounds, and Total dollars saved (on travel) $1, 805.  Keep on pedaling!

  • June 15, Summer Thunderstorm--up close & personal, (Posted by George Hamm; 8:44am)

I generally have had very good luck when it comes to bike commuting and avoiding severe weather.  Thunderstorms are generally not good conditions for biking but yesterday afternoon, I found myself pedaling through torrents of rain and road splash, thunder, lightning, wind, the whole 9 yards.  Finding myself safe & sound at home, in retrospect afterwards, I found being in the storm outside to be an amazing experience.  Nature is magnificent, up close and personal.  I would not recommend using a storm as a reason to head outside, but it was a different kind of experience yesterday.  Summer definitely brings some volatile weather, it pays to heed weather warnings.  Here's a link to some safety information via the American Red Cross Web Site.......Thunderstorm Safety Checklist.

  • June 12, Stories of inspiration are all around us, (Posted by George Hamm; 9:41am)

It looks and feels a bit more like September this AM than June.  Personally, as a fan of hot weather, I'm hoping for a return to summer temperatures.  Had to don the long sleeve jacket during this morning's bike commute into work.  Week 2 of my marathon training plan is started, will need to post a 3 mi run today.  Inspirational stories of fitness, adventure and determination seem to be all around us.  I've become hooked on tracking the pace of 105 mountain bikers who are riding solo and self-supported on the annual Tour Divide race from Banff, Alberta, 2,745 miles to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.  The leaders can manage to complete the journey thru grueling efforts in fewer than 20 days.  One biker, a 67-yr old rookie from Maine has caught my attention.  Reading his race blog is inspiring as he pedals on thru the Rocky Mountains of Montana.  His friends and family are sending him posts of encouragement telling to keep on and stay safe.  That's an awesome and transformational adventure I would think, and definitely a story of inspiration for me.  Cheers!

  • June 11, The heat was on, (Posted by George Hamm; 12:28pm)

What a wonderful, steamy, hot weekend it was.  I managed to complete my first week of my Marathon training program on Sunday with a 6 mi run.  Chose to run in the very early AM hours and avoid the real heat.  Later in the day, went for a pleasure ride on my bike over to Open Streets, the 20 block celebration of non-motorized travel on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis.  I drank 4 water bottles full of water, plus some refreshing lemonade, and never had to make a "pit stop."  Clearly, keeping oneself hydrated is critical during the summer season.  I always carry 2 water bottles, but my advice, be sure to: 1. plan ahead and know your limits in the heat, 2. carry water and know where refills can be found, 3. rely on some shade breaks, 4. always wear sunblock.  The National Bike Challenge continues.  How is Ramsey County doing?  Our 30 riders are in second place for worksites locally.  Collectively as a team, we've logged 5,143 miles so far, burned 22,567 Kcals, saved 4,708 pounds of CO2, and saved $1,569 in travel costs.  Way to go Ramsey County bikers!

  • June 7, It was a great Bike Walk to Work Celebration, (Posted by George Hamm; 7:39am)

Took a couple of hours off of work yesterday morning to do a volunteer gig in Rice Park at the Bike Walk to Work Day Celebration in St Paul.  What a great event!  I took a couple of photos and posted them to my Facebook page, at Bike Walk to Work Day 2012.  The attendance was terrific, probably encouraged by the awesome summery weather we've had all week this week.  The Twin Cities continues to see the benefits of community commitment to walking and biking infrastructure and supportive services.  We are among the top metro areas in the country when it comes to the percentage of year-round bike commuters, despite our less-than-hospitable winters.  Glad to see Nice Ride Minnesota (our successful bike share program) has made the crossing from Minneapolis to St Paul.  Those folks did a great job promoting safety by fitting attendees up with new, free bike helmets.  For today, it's back on the run training plan--last 3 mi run for the week, then my first long distance run Sunday--starting at 6mi this first week but will build up as I progress.  Cheers, and get out and enjoy the great outdoors!

  • June 6, Running plan continues today  (Posted by George Hamm; 7:28am)

Second training day on my prep for the TC Marathon.  Should be a great day to run.  Love these 80 degree F days.

  • June 5, Another great day for Bike Walk Week!  (Posted by George Hamm; 7:13am)

This has been a spectacular week weather wise so far, and what a great way to experience Bike Walk Week in the Twin Cities.  There are definitely more bicyclists on the paths and bike lanes this week with the mild weather.  There are a host of ways to enjoy Bike Walk Week events, and this Thursday AM in Rice Park in Downtown St Paul, you can join others who walked or biked to work (even if you walked or biked in tandem with riding transit) with breakfast snacks, great sponsor exhibits and sharing a story of your commute with others.  This will be my fourth or fifth Bike Walk to Work Day celebration this Thursday.  Looking forward to it.  Cheers!

  • June 4, Today my TC Marathon training program has begun! (Posted by George Hamm; 1:14pm)

Wonderful start to my 18 week Twin Cities Marathon training program today at noon.  Magnificent 3 mile run around downtown and up around the capitol grounds.

  • June 4, Today begins my 18-week training program in advance of the Twin Cities Marathon  (Posted by George Hamm; 6:44am)

The journey begins today!  What a great day to start out.  My 18 week training program that will prepare me for my first marathon--the Twin Cities Marathon on October 7th--starts today!  Like all training programs, I will start out small and gradually build my miles, my endurance and my muscle mass.  My run today is a gentle 3 mile run that I can probably knock out during the noon time.  Looks like a great day to be outside.  Cheers

  • June 1, National Bike Challenge first month is done, how did we do in Ramsey County?  (Posted by George Hamm; 8:37am)

Well, May is over, and the first month of the National Bike Challenge is done.  How did the 29 riders in Ramsey County do?  Here's a summary........total distance logged = 3,705miles, Total calories burned = 11,989 kcals, total CO2 saved = 3,392 pounds, Total dollars saved = $1,243.  72% of our trips were for transportation as opposed to recreation, which put us squarely in 2nd place among workplaces in the Twin Cities!  A stellar effort. 

On a completely different note, I will need to refocus my energy toward run training on Monday when my 18 week training plan in prep for the TC Marathon begins.  Determined to make it fun.  Have a great weekend everybody.

  • May 31, Are you a fan of pie? (Posted by George Hamm; 8:30am) 

Hi folks.  We're almost ready to move into June, though the cool temps this week would have us thinking otherwise.  There's still time to register and join a virtual Walk to Key West Challenge team, or start a team of your own!  The top 3 stepping teams can win a Key Lime pie for their team!  Sure, it may not be traditional "health food" but a refreshing prize never-the-less.  Registration is open now thru June 4th.  Cheers everybody.

  • May 29, What a glorious holiday weekend for being outdoors!  (Posted by George Hamm; 9:13am)

Welcome back to the regular work week.  Wasn't it a magnificent weekend to be outdoors?  Yes, it took a bit of dodging thunderstorms and rain showers, but there seemed to be ample time to get outside and get moving.  I think I logged more than 100 miles of biking this weekend, including taking my small terrier with me in a lap carrier on my recumbent bike for a ride.  The official start of the virtual Walk to Key West Challenge is coming.  It will be a great event for participants.  Join a team in your work area, or maybe, start a team yourself!  June is this week, and the hazy, crazy days of Summer beckon.  Cheers!

  • May 25, What a Difference a Day Makes  (Posted by George Hamm; 8:24am)

Rode in this AM through beautiful early sunrise and mild temps.  What a difference from the tumultuous weather we had in the Cities yesterday.  It's days like these that help to make up for the less-than-ideal weather days, but my bike commuting while communing with the natural world is still the best part of my day.  We're nearly to June already and Twin Cities Bike Walk to Work Week is coming very soon!  It officially begins June 2nd and the big celebration downtown St Paul in Rice Park is the morning of Thursday, June 7th.  If you've never commuted by bike or on foot, June 7th may be your best chance to try it out and discover the amazing experience of sharing in the natural world up close.  And, at the end of your AM ride/walk you can join the crowd at Rice Park, enjoy some treats & hot coffee, and chat with event sponsors.  Cheers, and get some time outside this long holiday weekend!

  • May 24, Have to bike fast to get between the downpours  (Posted by George Hamm; 2:20pm)

Well, bike commuting today is a definite challenge and a wee bit of good fortune.  This morning, I managed to ride in and stay dry, dodging the nasty, stormy weather during a brief period of dryness.  I am hoping for another round of good luck this afternoon on my ride home, with a break in the storms.  I can deal with rain but storms are not something in which to take chances.  If you're biking out there today, be careful and stay tuned in to the weather sites.

  • May 23, Biking season is here in full force  (Posted by George Hamm; 5/23/12; 6:50am)

The 28 riders from Ramsey County are continuing to log miles in the National Bike Challenge that began May 1st and runs thru August 31st.  Ramsey County remains in second place in the Local Leaderboard for workplaces.  So far, we've covered a total distance of 2, 707 miles, burned 8,603 Kcal, saved 2,478 pounds of CO2, and saved a total of $910 (in travel costs)!  Congratulations bikers!  On another note, I've been the recipient of helpful kindness by fellow cyclists on my commute.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to return the favor by helping a fellow biker change a flat tire.  Tire was fixed in about 5 minutes--I was glad I could still manage it all.  Cheers!

  • May 18, 83F degrees, and a wonderful 5 mi run  (Posted by George Hamm; 5/18/12; 1:34pm)

Went for a training run during the noon hour today--the early phases of my marathon training program.  Wow, it felt great to feel the sunshine and the warmth!  If you're out and about in the sun, be sure to don some sunblock and sunglasses.  'Tis the season for sun protection.

  • May 18, Ever been to Key West, Florida?  (Posted by George Hamm; 5/18/12; 7:16am)

Have you ever been to Key West, Florida?  The Conch Republic, as some of the locals lovingly call their island home and the name that adorns their city flag, is a place apart.  Separated from the mainland state of Florida, Key West is a wonderful, quirky, diverse mix of people.  You can walk quaint streets and see the wild population of chickens roosting around town.  You can eat in great fine restaurants or fantastic fish shanties.  You can take a star gazing boat tour off the coast of the town at night, or enjoy a comedy or drag show in a local club.  If you've never been, the upcoming Walk to Key West challenge is your chance to at least virtually make your way down, cross the intercoastal highway of US1, island hopping to the end of the road, the most southern town in the mainland 48 states.  Especially if you've registered or intend to register for the 10,000 steps program to complete your Healthy Benefits plan, signing up for the challenge also is a way to put some fun in completing your 10,000 steps program.  Some folks have asked us to clarify the 10K steps versus the Key West challenge--in a nutshell, you need to complete the 10,000 steps program requirements by logging your steps online at HealthPartners secured website.  The Key West challenge is an optional addition to your own walking goals.  Cheers, and enjoy the island breeze & a piece of key lime pie (the real stuff is yellow, not green).  PS, 1st real HOT DAY today will have me on my bike for sure!  Yahoooo!

  • May 17, Balance in all things  (Posted by George Hamm; 5/17/12; 7:13am)

I've heard the expression before--balance in all things, but I've come to understand its literal meaning better since I've started a regular yoga practice.  My schedule has been so hectic lately I've missed a couple of noontime sessions.  If you haven't taken advantage of the County's offering of noontime yoga or pilates, and you're in a worksite convenient to these classes, I highly recommend it.  Balance, toning and focus are all a part of the practice, and these seem to translate into other aspects of my daily life.  Cheers.

  • May 15, Ramsey County's 26 bikers are cranking the miles  (Posted by George Hamm; 5/15/12; 9:50am)

I checked on the progress of our Ramsey County group of bikers online this AM, and our cracker group of bikers is 2nd place locally in terms of worksite teams (the challenge limits our REACH team to only 10 folks, so I'm opting to report our entire work group)!  We've logged 1,446 miles, burned 2,076 kcals,  saved 1,323 lbs of CO2, and saved $509 (in gas--not sure how they measure that).  Great work team!  But the real rewards are enjoying the great outdoors, the incredible Spring weather, and getting in touch with our own personal sense of health and well being.  Cheers!

  • May 14, Was this a great weekend or what?.  (Posted by George Hamm; 5/14/12; 7:42am)

This morning's bike commute in to work from South Minneapolis to downtown St Paul was one of those mornings I spend most of the year only dreaming about.  Magnificent!  The deer were out along the way, enjoying the morning as well.  What a great top off to an incredible Mothers Day weekend!  This week should be great for outdoor activities.

  • May 11, Can exercise help your brain?.  (Posted by George Hamm; 5/11/12; 1:25pm)

Just finished reading an interesting story from the New York Times blog about a group of researchers at the University of South Carolina, who are studying the effects of regular exercise and the brain.  Their research subjects were mice--different than we humans, but intriguing findings anyway.  The findings seem to suggest that regular exercise can help to increase the production of new, youthful mitocondria in the brain cells, a very important part of keeping your cells healthy and disease free.  I'm not educated as a health professional but the article lays it out in fairly easy-to-read terms.  For the full article, go to......well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/how-exercise-can-strengthen-the-brain/ (copy & paste URL to your web browser).

  • May 11, Glad to be on a bike.  (Posted by George Hamm; 5/11/12; 8:47am)

Yesterday I attended an HR conference in Downtown Minneapolis.  It was a great day for biking, and after the conference ended, I noticed a few things that made me feel fortunate to be travelling by bike--1. I think I had the best parking space of any attendee--right outside the entrance & free! 2. I quickly rode past a rather big traffic jam at the exit booths to the ramp/lot and backup at a traffic light.  Our Ramsey County bikers are continuing to log their miles on line at the endomondo.com website!  Locally, we are currently in 2nd place among employee teams.  Nice riding folks, but the best rewards are enjoying the great weather, experiencing the natural world around us, and increasing our mind/body/spirit wellness.  Cheers.  It looks like a great weekend for outdoor activity.  Happy Mothers Day, Sunday, too.  All you moms deserve the recognition.

  • May 9, Great weather for outdoor activity.  (Posted by George Hamm; 5/9/12; 7:27am)

This AM the sun was shining, the wind was calm, and temps mild.  This is the beginning of a great season for bike commuting!  It's truly the best part of my day.  There are so many outdoor activity options ramping up this time of year--recreational biking, running, walking, gardening, etc. Welcome Spring weather.  Cheers.

  • May 8, One week of Bike Challenge riding is logged.  (Posted by George Hamm; 5/8/12; 8:53am)

Well, one week of bike challenge riding is done.  The Ramsey County REACH team mates have been posting their commuting and recreational miles.  Here's a summary......Total distance logged (5/1 thru 5/7) 491 miles; Total calories burned = 233kcal; Total CO2 saved = 450 pounds.  For the period, commuting miles represented 59% of the total and 41% represented recreational riding.  Nice riding everybody!

  • May 7, The blog is back! (Posted by George Hamm; 5/7/12; 7:51am)

Yes, the blog is back!  And better than ever.  We are hoping for a great Spring/Summer/Fall season of exciting outdoor activities for everybody to join in.  There are a host of great outdoor events across the cities all season long--5Ks, 10Ks, long distance events, duathlons and triathlons, bike races and organized bike riding events.  There are plenty of options from which to find your niche.  We'll be tracking our progress here on the blog.  If you have something to share, fitness wise, feel free to send us your comments at REACH@co.ramsey.mn.us.