Category Archives: workouts

Tune up for running: USE music!

Literally! USE it, own it, make it work for you, sweat it!

Now the weather is nice we are all going out, bikers and runner’s season is on again. Today´s topic: How to make the perfect running playlist.

  1. Start your playlist with a song that grows faster… slowly… The Dogs days are over, by Florence and the Machine or Eminem´s Lose Yourself will do the trick. I adore “Lose Yourself” because it mentally prepares me; it makes me feel like am about to enter a kickboxing ring and I’m going to kick some …
  2. Don´t go too fast… Most electronic music goes way faster than we run. For example: Martin Garrix´s Animals; I love the song and it will be perfect for jumping at a rave party or for a spinning class, but not for running.
  3. Beat the wall down: No matter how short or long your runs are, we all usually hit a wall (or several) at some point. Typically, you will know when you hit your first wall because you stop “just enjoying the ride” and look at your watch. I hit my first wall at 18 minutes; therefore, I have one of my favorite songs around that time. Pay attention to your body and discover when you need that specific song to keep you going; good news is: if you hit a wall but continue, you will “beat” the wall down after a few minutes.
  4. Go with your gut. Don´t stick to just one “dream playlist” but get lots of cool music on your Ipod just in case you change your mind on the go. Sometimes you will get more motivation from lyrics than from 140 beats per minute.

So, as I said at the beginning of this post: use it, own it, make it work for you, sweat it… give yourself the freedom to have a little sprint just because the beat got faster.

Don´t misunderstand me, sprinting just because might not be great advice if you are running a marathon but, if you are running for the fun of it: then let it be fun! I don´t see kids getting all stressed up while playing chase; then why should we?? The best runners I´ve ran with will usually loose the pace here or there simply because they wanted to jump on a water puddle… YES, just like kids!

A couple of months ago, I created a running playlist on my YouTube Channel. I put it together for my sister last Christmas and she recons 1st time she used it she kept on running just because the playlist started again, despite of her being in front of her house already. 😀

It lasts 45 minutes and I think the transitions are actually OK. All songs are available on ITunes and the old ones are less than US$1.00. Otherwise, of course, you can always download them somewhere… 😉

Make sure you like the playlist on YouTube so I know it´s worth sharing. I´m working on a new one now 😀

Click the following link or copy paste the address on your browser:

Happy running everyone!



Why we all need our own trainer… even personal trainers…

Go back into time and remember your 1st day at a gym. If you’re reading this and you’re over 15 you probably have been at a gym at least once in your life. Isn’t it frustrating not to know how machines work? If you were lucky enough, you had a receptionist/smoothie maker/trainer that would give you a hint. Most of us will simply have to wait for a day when there aren´t 30 people around so one can take the time to read the sticker on the machine and then try to change the settings (so your body looks like the drawing on the stupid sticker) and then use it for the first time hoping its ok; but, mainly, hoping there´s no one making a video of you just to share it with Awkward Gym
We all know that “Im an idiot” feeling…

woman demonstrating an exercise machine, known as the Gymo Frame, to members of the Arsenal soccer team at Highbury football ground in London, UK, in 1932.
Woman demonstrating an exercise machine to members of the Arsenal soccer team in London, UK, in 1932.

You will need a personal trainer at least from time to time, not only to teach you how to use the new machines, not only to give you a program that gets you the exact results you want (yeah yeah, these amazing lunges will make your butt look like J. Lo’s); but you will need a personal trainer because they give you the knowledge and the push you need… even if you are in the business.

My sister “V” goes to the YMCA classes almost every day and trains for 2 hours. Between one class and the other she will go running with her gym mates. This January, while my other sister was visiting, she said to V: – “Ha! You spend 2 hours working out every day, yet, once a year I come and you all look the same to me”. V humbly replied: -“Well… we all work out to “maintain”, we can´t do better than this at our ages”. Funny thing is my sister might be the youngest, at her early 30s and the oldest… well… the oldest died while I was there on Christmas… at 79. It´s not a matter of age, is not that they don´t push themselves enough (God, they do!!); then why are they only “maintaining”?? They could use those 2 hours better… as a matter of fact, with their condition most probably they could “maintain” by doing 20 min of HIIT… And that’s when you want to invest in a coach…

ImageWatching the Champion´s League yesterday, José Mourinho, Manager of Chelsea, ran to celebrate the second score of the night… turns out he was running to tell them what to do next, the game wasn´t over… and he wasn´t sure they were going to win if they kept playing the same way. In the heat of a match, sometimes you lose consciousness of what´s going on. At a Cross Fit class, when you are pushing your limits, you have a coach yelling at you to go deeper on that squat, to go faster, to keep on pushing… And I must say, to all of you who don´t fancy the idea of been yelled at, there´s a scientific explanation to it; when you are really pushing yourself, hearth rate super high, muscles sending info through your nerves, nerves to brain, adrenaline snatching your body, muscles in pain, loud music on… if they don´t yell at you, you don´t hear them.

Last 11K I ran, I was happy doing 59 minutes because it was an easy, plain route. I love running, but my knees don´t anymore and 59 min sounded respectable. By the start line, I glanced at the pace maker with the 55 min balloon, same nice guy who had given me my pace maker bracelet and I thought, if he can do it: I can do it! Easier said than done, yes; nevertheless, at the end, if it weren´t for him and his blue balloon standing from the crowd, I would have done 59 minutes, maybe even 60. I simply wouldn´t have pushed myself as hard.
Look at professional athletes; do they do everything by themselves? Of course they don´t! Now, do you think Mo Farah (just saw him on TV as London Marathon is this Sunday) has his trainer next to him, yelling him to run faster?? Of course not!

So, what´s the thing with coaches, senseis, instructors, personal trainers?
That they (we) have been trained to get the best out of you. We push you, we motivate you, we feel your pain and we share and celebrate your victories. Your knockout punch, your best time at a run, the 2 extra kilos you lifted, the 1 pound you lost this week. Our only job is to yell at you what sometimes, in the heat of that long journey called life, you can´t see: that you are stronger, faster, better than you can even imagine.


The Spartan 500 reps workout

Yesterday I didn´t want to work out… Happens to us all… So started looking for a new workout that was good, yet will take only 20 minutes or so… A quick fix…
Turns out the actors from the movie 300 (no, I haven´t seen it!) got ripped by a very simple to follow, yet difficult to perform, 300 reps workout. The original one includes gym equipment that I do not have at my house but the whole idea sounded amazing to me so I started “You Tubing” for it… And I found it! Fitness blender Spartan 500 Workout!

To be honest, it didn’t take me the 17 min it took the guy on the video. It took me 20 + another 5 walking along the living room waiting for my body to stop telling me I was gonna faint! (lol). Today I´ll go for it again, see if I can nail at least 30 secs less than yesterday. Highly recommended!! 😀

* Find the video + workout details here:

The big question: -How do I start running?

ImageRunning is the simplest way to improve your cardio and burn a lot of calories (look at professional runners, they have not a gram of fat…). Most magazines say you are only ready to run if you have been doing cardio on an elliptical or stationary bike before; but, didn´t you have a first time on a stationary bike as well??

Many people have asked me the very same question lately: – How do I start running?

To be honest, as with many exercise routines, the best way to start is to give it a try. Don´t feel intimidated, if running were so difficult there wouldn´t be marathons with thousands of people all around the world, every year. Here is my best advise:

Start jogging/walking: Maybe you are looking for that feeling of freedom Forest Gump had while the leg braces broke; but, in order to get you there, we must walk and jog first. For example, if you only have 30 minutes, take the first and last 5 minutes to walk, then do 4 minutes walk/ 1 minute jog for the 20 minutes in between. Once you feel comfortable, increase the jogs to 2 min and decrease the walks to 3. In less than you think you will be able to jog for the whole 30 minutes.

Once you can jog for 30 minutes non stop, the “jump” from jogging to running is as simple as timing yourself and try to be faster. But that´s material for another blog… 😉

Prepare your knees: Whatever you do to your knees now, they will send you an invoice for… sooner or later…

If you don´t want to be part of the thousands of runners with knee pain (like myself), you MUST warm up. Warming up isnt only about elevating body temperature but, most importantly, its about your joints segregating synovial fluid. Think of synovial fluid as a tiny gel mattress that inflates and covers your bones so you have less impact on your joints. My favorite movement I actually learned while doing karate years ago: perform slow circular movements, both clockwise and counter-clockwise, until the joint seems to move smoothly. (Here´s a video that shows the movement in 30 seconds:

Prepare your brain: After a few weeks training you can actually get an “exercise high” from the endorphins released on your blood torrent. That high is what will make people keep coming back and you can even develop a healthy addiction to it… While we wait for that to happen, follow my lead:

If you attend a gym, hit the treadmill at not busy hours (early morning or afternoon seem to be the best) so you are not annoyed by people waiting behind you. If you run outside, find a beautiful path and do take the time to look around and enjoy it. Prepare yourself a cool music playlist: having the right music can make a great difference… even one less minute per kilometer!! And last but not least, if you enjoy partnering up: do it! Find runners clubs near you and go with them; whether you enjoy a chatty “God, this hill!” partner or just want silent competition, running with others increases your chances of not giving up so easily, which is very important when you are starting.

Listen to your body: Some muscle aches and soreness are to be expected (and you should feel proud of it!), it means your workout is working and your muscles are getting stronger. Nevertheless, you should know the difference between sore calves and a bad knee pain! If a pain persists for more than 3 days or if it interferes with daily activities, then it is time to 1. rest and 2. look for professional advice from a physician/orthopedist and a fitness trainer to give you a detailed routine you can follow by yourself without getting injured.

Go shopping: Yeah! Go shopping! 😀

You don’t need fancy equipment to run but a good pair of shoes is essential. Running stores usually have professionals to help you choose the ones for you; just don´t be fooled: the right pair of runners is the one in which you feel more comfortable. Once you have found the right pair of shoes, the smartest thing to do is stick to the brand… even if they don´t have the fanciest styles, you can save lots of money sticking to what suits your body (I´ve learned this from experience, after many new shoes given to charity…)

Enjoy it! While on action, think of the many benefits of running:

  • With the exception of cross-country skiing, running burns more calories than any other physical activity!
  • By increasing your heart rate and working the heart muscles your cardiovascular health is greatly improved.
  • Running can increase HDL levels, which improves overall cholesterol levels in the body.
  • Your immune system gets a boost through running with an increase in white blood cells; the fighter cells in the body, which can combat the early stages of diseases like diabetes and cancer.
  • Running also improves bone health. Weight bearing exercises increase bone density and prevent injury and the onset of osteoporosis.
  • Running improves lung capacity. If you normally find yourself out of breath after a few flights of stairs, you will notice that as you run more, you will be able to take more flights without getting out of breath because your lungs are becoming stronger.
  • And finally, running can help boost your energy levels. Of course, it makes you healthier and this helps, but running itself gets your blood pumping and this DOES wake you up.

If you have any questions or comments, please do feel free to post here or send me an email at

Enjoy the run! 😉