Welcome!

Welcome!

My name is Andy, and this  is my story. I started out to lose weight and get fit because I was fed up and needed to make a change in my life. I found myself horribly overweight and out of shape, and realized that my daughter and wife deserved better than that from me. So, as a 330 pound man, I decided to try the impossible and start running. (Well, walking and running. A LOT more walking than running at first and then slowly worked my way up.) That, coupled with watching what I eat by counting calories has helped me to lose 130+ pounds, get myself back into shape, and completely change my life. (that’s the quick and dirty version of my story, anyway; if you want to take a look at a much more complete and detailed version, check out my very first post and introduction HERE)

I started this blog in the very beginning to keep myself accountable and honest throughout the entire process. I trained for and completed 2 (Two!?!?) half marathons in the fall of 2012, am now slowly pushing forward, continuing the distance running and taking the new challenge of triathlons next year…and documenting my progress every step of the way.

I’m proud to share my story with you and hopefully it can inspire some more people out there to try, because it can be done!

Don’t be a stranger- I’m definitely here to support any and everybody who is looking to try to do the same in any way I can, after all: We’re all in this together.

Email me with anything at all: bigandysrunning@yahoo.com

Hooking My Readers Up/ Quick Plug For Pro Compression’s “Sock Of The Month” Program

Just a quick post today to keep up on my “Pro Compression Ambassador-ly Duties”…and totally hook up my readers at the same time.

PROC-ambassador-2014-300x300

I’ve touted the benefits of compression gear before (you can check out my review of the Pro Compression socks HERE), and after trying a few brands out have found that I like the Pro Compression brand the best, and as such have made them my go-to option.

 In the review linked above, I list out pros and cons at the end, and the negative that I drew during the review still holds true. These are a specialty item, and priced as such…   (And here is the part where I get to hook you all up)    …Except when they offer up their “Sock of the Month” discount program.

 Each month, Pro Compression picks out some selected styles and marks them down.

For the selected socks each month, they offer up:

40% off & Free Shipping

 This month, they are doing something really cool as well:

They picked the colors to mark down based on the charities that they are associated with:

Purp Purple for Team in Training
&
Powder Blue for Train 4 Autism
Blue

  And they are taking the profits from the sales of their Socks of the Month and “giving back” by donating a portion of each sale to the corresponding charity.

Pretty sweet, huh?

 OK Andy, you convinced me. How do I get a pair (or 2)?
I’m glad you asked! It’s easy!

Just go to their website here: http://procompression.com/som and use the code SOM4 at the checkout.

 *you will see one more sock listed on the “sock of the month page” when you follow the link above as well that is discounted even though it’s not associated with a charity: The Red, White, and Blue “Tube Sock” compression socks (that I am seriously considering rocking for my run in the Broad Street Run 10 Miler coming up in a few weeks) also is subject to the 40% off and Free Shipping as well…

Tube I hope this helps. I’m still really grateful to represent the folks at Pro Compression. It allows me to suport the people that support me when I run, and hook up all of you at the same time. 

Have a great weekend, and as always:
Take it easy.

Andy

Review: The Runner’s World Big Book of Running For Beginners

I have to start this out by saying that I am 100% completely biased on this one. (with good reason…they put me in it!)

That being said, I have a review for a running book for you today. And quite frankly, even if there were no outside factors influencing me, I would still love presenting this because it speaks directly to a lot of people that best relate to my story and this blog.

I’ve said it before, but what seems to be my “target demographic” and the readers who best relate with my experiences are those who are just beginning to adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle. Often times, it’s people who are looking to start running never really have before, those who have some weight to lose and want to accomplish that by moving more and eating right, or all of the above.

And since I have taken the approach of addressing this beginners group and oftentimes speaking directly to them, I am very excited that Runner’s World has decided to put out a book titled: The Big Book Of Running For Beginners.

BIG BOOK FOR BEGINNERS COVER

It’s a book that provides some great information to both the beginning runner who is new to the sport, and to those (who haven’t even started yet) who are just starting to think about becoming a beginning runner.

So whether you are a relative newbie to the running world,  more experienced and just looking to touch base with your roots, or even if you’re sitting on the couch right now with a bowl of ice cream in your hand as you read this, the information provided in this book will be useful and should be of interest.

In my experience, one of the hardest things about my getting started running and being more active is that the whole thing just seems so damn overwhelming. There is so much information out there, a lot of it conflicting…and a lot of it coming from varied (and sometimes sketchy) sources just looking to sell you something that you can get lost in it all and not see the forest for the trees, if you know what I mean. I wish that I had something like this book, which can be looked at as a “running 101″ or “one stop shopping” collection of info to give me a solid base to start with. It would have made things a lot easier and less intimidating, I can tell you that for sure.

I know what you’re thinking:
OK, We get it. You like it. So tell us about it… what all is actually provided in this book?
It gives an overview of the sport of running, offers up some detailed plans to help you get started, no matter what point you are currently at, provides some useful and interesting information regarding nutrition and weight loss,  and finally provides some humor & motivational/inspirational stories to go along with it all.

… And continue along the same old lines of my story and this blog opening doors that I never even imagined/ would have told you you were insane talking about before I began any of this… my story has been included as one of the inspirational examples and used throughout the book.

It is a very surreal feeling to open up a book from a reputable source and see a picture of your face staring back at you. Not to mention from a real deal publisher. It’s not like I’m opening a limited run pamphlet from “Big Bob’s Instant Book Pressing Service”, no,  this is coming right from the folks at Runner’s World. Crazy.

Full disclosure: Mine is one of several stories that are in the book. It’s not like it’s “The Big Book of Andy”, but given what I am trying to do with inspiring others and introducing new beginners into this sport that I now love so much, it’s just completely an honor and humbling experience to be included. So while I’m certainly not here to gloat or thump my chest… I am just still kind of awestruck about the entire situation… Now back to the book.

The beginning info is great. a lot of the stuff that you always wanted to know (or didn’t even know that you wanted to know) but were afraid to ask. It’s got a pretty great section on nutrition,  which I found myself re-reading a couple times, and a lot of strength and stretching exercises that normal people and not only elite level athletes/ gym rats can do. “Stretches for the people”, if you will.

I really like how it has plans designed to take you from literally just walking and easing you into running and meeting your goal, no matter what that goal might be. Whether it’s to just get moving for the first time, extending your distances, or improving on your current conditioning, it is all touched on.

Not to mention it has submissions from (hands down) my two favorite runners world editors/contributors: Ted Spiker and Mark Remy. Both of which are extremely funny, relatable guys who talk about running from “our” perspective while providing useful, real-life takeaways.

As for the specific details, the book breaks out like this:

Getting Started
-Basics
-Become a runner in 5 easy steps
-Motivation: getting going and sticking with it

Nutrition and weight loss
-Eat like a runner
-Losing weight and keeping it off

Staying Healthy and Injury Free
-Run safe & injury free
-Preventing and coping with Injuries

It even has an appendix with a dedicated “run for 30 min straight” plan, a guide to common running terns , and a suggested grocery list.

Not sure I can give away any of the actual wording from inside the chapters/ the book itself, I don’t want to piss anybody off or infringe on any copyrighted material.

That being said, the book description on Amazon reads like this :

Every day, people are reaching their get-up-or-give-up moments and resolving to change. And they’re realizing that running is the simplest, cheapest, and most effective way to lose weight, gain confidence, and relieve stress. For newcomers, the obstacles are fierce. There are fears of pain and embarrassment. There are schedules jam-packed with stressful jobs, long commutes, endless meetings, and sticky-fingered toddlers.
The Runner’s World Big Book of Running for Beginners provides all the information neophytes need to take their first steps, as well as inspiration for staying motivated. The book presents readers with tips for smart nutrition and injury prevention and includes realistic training plans that enable beginning runners to achieve gradual progress (by gearing up for a 30-minute run, a 5-K, or even a 5-miler). Above all, it will show newbies just how fun and rewarding the sport can be, thanks to the help of several “real runner” testimonials.

Suffice it to say that it is WELL worth the 15-20 bucks that they are asking for it.
… Speaking of which, you can use this link to go to an informational page that has connections with pretty much every online bookseller that you could ever need to pick this up.

http://bit.ly/RWBBR4B

Let me also say that I was not compensated in any way for any of this. I didn’t get anything for being in the book, I don’t get anything if you buy one copy or 100 copies. I just get to be in the book. Actually, the only form of compensation I received at all was a free advance copy so I can read it and review it for you.

So when I say that I definitely think it’s worth your while to pick this up, it’s solely with the best intentions (and no conflicting interests or ulterior motives) in mind.

If you are looking to get moving for the first time, looking to lose a few pounds and do it in part by running, or looking for some solid and well laid out plans from the experts at Runner’s world to build up a solid fitness base and start your active lifestyle off on the right foot, check this out. Reading through it is definitely time well spent. …and then go for a run. When it’s over I think you’ll be glad you did.

As Always: Thanks for reading and I hope this helps.
Andy

 

 ______________________________________________________

I am approaching this review from my standard viewpoint of what I believe the core interest of this blog really gets at: that is to say I am presenting my review by looking at this product from the perspective of a person who is relatively new to the running world, has some weight to lose and wants go about losing the weight by starting to incorporate a more active lifestyle and want to know how sift through the volumes of available gear/ equipment out there.

One of the great benefits to running a blog like this one is that it puts me in a position from time to time to receive various products to use and review for you. Oftentimes, these items are provided to me free of charge. This is the only type of compensation I have ever received, and my acceptance of these items in no way constitutes any obligation to provide an unwarranted positive review. My opinions on the products are unfiltered and 100% my own.

**This product was provided to me free of charge, but again, this does not influence my review or views on the product in any way**

Also please note that these are the personal opinions and experiences of one individual (me) on my personal blog, and intended to be taken as such. I personally, and The Running My Ass Off Blog do not accept any liability from the purchase or use of any products reviewed on this blog.

**Sorry, just have to cover my ass here. These are unbiased reviews, intended only to help. I’m not going to try and sell you anything, nor do I want you to take my opinions as the final word on any product. Let me help you figure out what you should check out, and then check the stuff out for yourself to see if you like it.**

The Triathlon Chronicles: Update #3- Keep on Truckin’

Triathlon Update #3:

 Back on track and rolling.

 Tick Tock: this countdown seems to be flying by and the “safety net” of the far off date is disappearing a lot faster than I anticipated. (It feels like it anyway…)

So the ever-present clock is still just ticking away and my first Tri ever getting closer and closer. The Escape The Cape Triathlon Sprint Tri (.4mi swim, 10mi Bike, and 3.1mi run) in Cape May, NJ is now only 65 days away.

 So here we go, update #3:

 Swim: Hell Yes. The progress just keeps on coming. (which really just means that I am no longer an offensively horrible swimmer, now I’ve graduated up to the status of your regular, run of the mill bad swimmer) But I hit a milestone for myself this week. I was able to get in the pool and swim 13 laps. The significance of the 13 is that is equivalent of the race distance. Granted, I had to stop and catch my breath quite a bit, but I hit the distance. I know it looked absolutely ridiculous for a guy who just clearly struggled through 13 laps to give a fist pump and a “yes!” at the end; but hell, it was a big deal to me. I now have 2 full months to build upon this result. And considering the current rate of improvement, (even when I factor in the concept that as I get into better “swimming shape” the improvement will slow down a bit due to diminishing returns) I am still currently holding onto the belief that as long as I put in the work, I’ll be able to pull this off. And dare I say it, I might actually come to enjoy swimming a little bit- even if it’s for nothing more than a great cross training option.

 Brick: So now that the insane cold winter has moved out, and I have an actual real life bike to use, I can start doing my bricks outside to get a “really real” feel for what a brick should feel like (as opposed to the 1-2 punch of the stationary bike and treadmill in my gym), and a taste of what I can expect during Escape The Cape. The Jell-O legs are still there, and I imagine that they will actually get worse when you factor in the outside cycling & running. But better to experience and adapt to it now so when it comes to be “go time” I am ready to get it on. A short portion (about a half mile) of the run during the actual race is on the beach, so I will have to get myself accustomed to running on different surfaces as well. I’m going to be incorporating some trail running into the mix to help with this (while admittedly not sand, I have to imagine that a mixed surface of dirt, loose rocks, etc. is better than just straight pavement to get me used to this) until I can get myself on the sand to practice. Unfortunately, there are not a ton of beaches right around the corner from me to practice on exclusively (the Philly suburbs, while close to the Jersey Shore are not close enough to just “pop over” for a quick run)

 Bike: So the 2 (count em’, two!) bikes are back from the shop and ready to rock and roll. Tonight marks my inaugural ride outdoors on an actual (non-stationary) bike. Not only that, but it also will mark my first tandem bike ride ever. I will be heading out tonight with my daughter Tessa in tow. (Thanks to my brand new Weehoo Bike Trailer: Review / Website) I got it all assembled yesterday and pulled her up and down the block real fast to make sure it was good to go for today, and she LOVED IT. …which made me love it. I can’t wait to get out there and really take her for a ride longer than 45 seconds. This is going to be awesome and I’m ready to get a feel for what to expect on the bike in terms of performance, what it feesl like to go fast and have the wind in your face, and all the other ancillary experiences that I will need to get accustomed to related to cycling. (riding with sunglasses and a helmet, traffic, turning, handling, etc. You know, all the stuff you never even have to think about while “spinning” in the gym). I’m also hoping that combo of the heft of the mountain bike that I will be using to ride with Tess along with the weight of the trailer and her in the seat will also add up to increased speed & handling when I go out solo on my road bike (which is the one I will be using for the race, obviously)

 Run: This is and always be the core of my workouts. If all the varied triathlon training has taught me anything thus far, it’s that I am a runner at heart and that will always be the center of what/ who I am (at least fitness-wise) The past 2 weeks have been pretty great, run wise. Even though I made a conscious decision to deviate from the training plan a little. I have gone for 2 5K weekly runs and raced a 5K (along with my running partner rock, which was absolutely awesome) I had grand plans of wrapping up my 5K race with Rock and then heading to the park across the street to get in an additional 4 miles to round out the 7 on the schedule, but it turned out to be such a nice day that as soon as I started I doubled back and decided to bag it, haul ass home and enjoy what turned out to be the first nice warm-ish day in months walking around the neighborhood with the kids. It was awesome. I kept active all week and don’t feel like I missed anything in terms of distance improvement. I’ve rattled off some decent, strong and consistent mid-distance runs and I’m looking forward to this weekend’s long run to get myself back on schedule. I’m almost afraid to say it out loud, but things seem to be going pretty good right now, run-wise.

 So that concludes the section of the post that gives the workout updates. As for the random thoughts section of the update, I have a few things that have been playing on my mind about this process/ my experiences so far.

 Things are starting to get very real now. I’m looking at just over 2 months till race day and I know I’ve mentioned this before, but damn do I have a whole new respect for triathletes.

 Just the sheer volume of training involved in doing this (and doing it right) is a major investment: Financially of course, (3 sports = triple the “stuff”) but also both physically and in terms of time. I am finally getting to the point where I can see the finish line, and to me that also means looking ahead to how these experiences translate into the future now that I have a clear picture of what all goes into this during the day-to-day training. More to come on what the future holds for me… once I figure that out for myself, of course.

 One other thing I wanted to mention though is that while Cross Training is something I have shamefully neglected in the past, the added swimming and cycling are having a pretty awesome effect on me now. As always, I’m not sure if it’s purely physical or if there is a mental component to it as well (and also not sure if whether that distinction even matters), but I have never felt as strong or confident in my runs as I have lately. They are still challenging, and my speed is not where I ideally want to end up, but I am feeling great and running strong. I’m now and officially converted believer in the cross training and will be preaching from now on: I am of the mindset that the addition of the swimming and cycling is clearly going to be making me a better runner.

 Okay, that’s all I’ve got for today.

 As always, thanks so much for reading and I hope that you can gain some sort of insight as to what this experience is really beginning to look like for me.

  As always, Till next time:

 Take it Easy

 Andy