Dr. Jason Karp is an internationally-recognized running and fitness expert and the owner of Run-Fit. He’s the 2011 IDEA National Personal Trainer of the Year and 2014 recipient of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Community Leadership award. A nationally-certified running coach and prolific writer, Dr. Karp is the author of numerous articles and books including Running a Marathon for Dummies and Running for Women. He puts his expertise to work by creating training programs and by helping others become running coaches through his Run-Fit Specialist program.
Dr. Karp was kind enough to share his insights about training and some great tips for success.
How do you start your own day? Do you have any daily rituals or routines?
I don’t have any specific rituals or routines. Every day is different. People think that because I run so much that I must be a morning runner. But I only run first thing in the morning if I absolutely have to. I’ve never been a morning person, much less a morning runner!
What are your eating habits like? Do you follow any specific program of eating?
I don’t follow any specific program of eating. I try to eat healthy, but I typically eat anything I want. I don’t believe in cutting out the foods that taste the best. That’s not an enjoyable way to live.
There’s so much research being done and advice being published, how do you tell what’s real and what’s fake? How do you decide what’s relevant and what isn’t?
I rely on my educational background for this. With a PhD in exercise physiology, I question everything and I’m pretty good at spotting the things that sound like advertising or exaggerated claims. For example, any time you hear the word “revolutionary,” you know it’s not true. Nothing in science is ever revolutionary. That’s a marketing term.
Is there any current thinking about diet and fitness that needs to be challenged?
I’d say that the biggest diet issues that need to be challenged are:
- Diets are a good way to lose weight in the long-term. Too many people still go on a diet thinking it’s going to work.
- You need to cut out the foods that taste the best. Unfortunately, the foods that taste the best are the ones that are the least healthy and are the worst for us, but that doesn’t mean you have to go through life depriving yourself of the foods that taste the best.
Fitness issues that need to be challenged include:
- All you have to do is exercise on this ab machine for 3 minutes a day and you’ll lose inches off your waistline. It actually takes a lot more work to lose weight and keep it off for the rest of your life than what is advertised by fitness equipment companies.
- Exercise is a means to an end (weight loss). Exercise needs to be seen as a worthwhile endeavor, not just for the benefit of weight loss, but also for all of the physical, psychological, creative, and emotional benefits of exercise that research has been showing for years.
Is there anything new you’ve started doing recently, or anything you’ve quit?
I have started a new full-time job recently, on top of my own business and entrepreneurial projects, so that has been a challenge to balance running with everything I do. But running is so ingrained in me that I will always run every day regardless of how busy I am.
How do you make adjustments to your workout? It’s hard to know what to do when you’re tired or having a bad workout.
Sometimes, you just have to listen to your body. If you’re fatigued, you’re not going to get as much out of the workout as you can when you feel good and can nail the workout. So you have to learn to listen and back off when you need to. This is one of the ways a good coach or trainer can be invaluable.
Can you share some of the specific things you notice your top clients doing differently than the average client?
They train with intention and with purpose behind each workout. They understand what it is they are trying to accomplish and understand the purpose of each workout and how it’s going to get them to meet their goals. Successful people have intention and direction.
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