Better. Faster. Stronger.

workoutwednesday

Better. Faster. Stronger. No, not lyrics by Kanye, but the benefits you can gain through plyometrics.

Bouncing off Jeremy’s post last week about a jump rope workout (see what I did there?), I thought I would delve more into the world of why distance runners should add jump training into their routine.

When we put one foot in front of the other, our leg muscles engage in what is referred to as a Stretch-Shortening Cycle – an eccentric contraction (lengthening of the muscle) immediately followed by a concentric contraction (shortening of the same muscle). A muscle which is stretched right before an explosive movement will contract more forcefully and more rapidly.

Think about a rubber band. If I wanted to shoot the rubber band at someone, what do I do first?

For maximum performance, I’d pull back (stretch) on the band to build up energy. When I release, the stored energy will take action and (hopefully) hit the target. Our muscles are the same. During the stretch phase, our muscles store energy and then release – hopefully quickly and forcefully – to propel us forward.

Simply put, running is a form of jumping – a series of single leg hops, over and over again. In a marathon, men average about 57,640 strides whereas women average about 63,000 strides – those hops sure add up! Isolating the jumping element through plyometrics is a great way to boost running performance without needing to increase your mileage as well as make each of those strides count.

Proper form is key – not only for injury prevention but for maximum benefit.  You should have a solid base foundation of cardio and strength before adding plyos to your routine. If you are working through one of the Runner In Training Enhanced Run+Strength plans, explosive training is added to your program after we’ve built up your overall endurance and strength and can be strategically prescribed leading up to prepare you for your big race.

Plyometric Exercises for Runners:

Bounding: this exercise is also great for stretching the hamstrings. Bounding is performed by exaggerating your running form and jumping with each step for about 25 meters. Repeat 2-3 times.

Squat Jumps: Powerhouse. Explosive and effective exercise to power up those glutes!

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Toes should be pointed straight ahead. Bend down into squat position and explode upward with your arms stretched above your head. When you land, land softly with your knees bent as you lower back into the squat position. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps.

Switch Lunge Jump: You can’t get much more running-specific than a jump lunge. Switch jumps target all those running muscles in an explosive fashion.

Begin in a lunge position, weight equally distributed on both legs. Jump and reverse the position of your legs, lowering back down into a lunge position. Drive your arms just as you would while running. Do 2 sets of 12-15 reps (each leg).

Single Leg Lateral Jumps: C’mon coach – running is forward! Why do I need to jump side to side? Moving laterally, we are engaging different muscles which can help us not only with our athleticism but with injury prevention. Strength, stability, balance, control – simple and effective.

Find a line or use tape to create a line on the floor. Jump over the line back and forth. Minimize ground contact time – land softly and take off quickly. Do 2 sets of 12-15 hops (each side).

Burpees: Brilliant move – full body exercise and also boosts your cardio.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down and place your hands on the floor, jump feet back into a plank position. Do a push-up. Jump feet back to hands, stand up and jump as high as you can. Repeat. 2 sets of 10-15 reps.

Bench Taps: Quick turnover!

Stand in front of a step with both feet on the ground. Rapidly alternate tapping the top of the step with each foot, springing off the ground each time. Drive your arms in your running motion. Do 2 sets of 20 taps (each foot).

 

Plyometric training can be a powerful tool for improving your running economy. So, if you are ready, go on now – jump up, jump up and get down!

I’m back!

Holy smokes, I haven’t posted a blog in almost a month! A lot has been going on, so let’s have a #FlashbackFriday recap.

June didn’t include much racing, but lots of crazy hill training, closing out running club and putting finishing touches on an exciting project.

This 3rd session of running club was fun and yes, a little challenging with 40 kiddos! So thankful for all my volunteers who run with us at practices. Each session I coach, I learn a little something new and am always inspired by these young runners. Below is a message I received from one of my runner’s parents:

“You have truly given my son a sport he loves! We have tried t-ball, baseball and basketball. All of which he didn’t complain about going, but we could tell he wasn’t into it at all. This is the first time he has ever been excited to go to practice or do a race! In fact, immediately after the Apple Blossom race, his first words were, “When is my next race?!” This running club has helped him find his sport! Thanks to you and running club, I know he will have many more races he is looking forward to in his future.”

Yes, my heart burst. The joy I receive in helping to foster a love for running in others is unfathomable. Watching someone reaching their goals or overcome an obstacle they didn’t think is possible is truly amazing. Which makes me want to tell you about that project I’ve been working on…

If you haven’t heard by now, my running coach/partner and I launched a new business this month – Runner In Training, LLC! Jeremy and I have been running together for nearly a year and have seen much improvement by combining running and strength workouts. Many times during our early bird runs, we’d chat about the possibility of combining our strengths and offering other runners a comprehensive training program. Since we have similar ambitious personalities, the dream didn’t stay just a dream for long. Once we started sharing ideas, the business was full speed ahead and we can’t wait to share all we have in store over the months to come!

RITSite

Side note: We are about to have our 2nd group run tomorrow, so if you are in the area, please join us. Check out the details here:

On the 4th of July, I raced at the Liberty 5K here in Winchester. What a fun race. There were approximately 300 runners, great awards, fun door prizes and a lot of red, white & blue. Prior to the race, I didn’t really set a time goal. Since I am deep into marathon training, shifting into 5K race pace gear was a bit different. I went out hard at a 6 flat with teammate Alex ahead of me by about 50 meters for the first half of the race. Alex and I run track workouts and long runs often side by side so I kept telling myself there was no reason I couldn’t catch him. Around mile 2, I finally passed him up a hill and felt bad for just a second since it was his birthday (Sorry Alex!). The course is a bit challenging with a few late race hills which didn’t phase me too much after all the hill work the previous month. Surprised myself with an 18:45 – a new PR. My favorite part of the race: after I finished, I ran back down to the last hill to encourage other runners and help them push all the way to the finish line as well as cheering on the kids in the mile.

DSC_0048 (2)
Check out the new racing kit!

What else has happened since I talked to you last? Well….although I have my degree in Kinesiology, I never had any certifications. I am proud to say after a lot of studying and a tough exam, I received my National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Training certification! In the near future, I am hoping to add another certification to my name but will tell you more about that one in a future post.

8430362_NSCA

Update on chasing the unicorn …. Wow, as soon as I wrote that, butterflies started dancing in my stomach. At this point, I am under the 60 day mark for my BQ attempt. Training has been going extremely well. Since the Erie marathon is in early September, there is a chance of warmer temps, so I’ve been trying to adapt to running in higher heat and humidity. One of my major goals in this training cycle has been to stay healthy and injury-free and I’m happy to say I haven’t had any issues. I’ve been averaging 45-60 mile weeks with a lot of variety – track, fartleks, hill repeats, LSD (not as slow as Coach would like I think) and am feeling strong. Training has been a lot of fun and I am thankful for my running crew who is very encouraging and continues to push me every week. 

 

Erie

Sorry so long but I had a lot to say! Hope all of you are enjoying the summer!

Workout Wednesday: Core

workoutwednesday

Alright runners, let’s do a new core workout today. I apologize if I make you do more reps than I promised….ok, maybe not. #sorrynotsorry #youllthankmelater

Core v.2: 5 Cubed

Today, we will do 5 exercises – about 25 repetitions. On each 5th rep, do 5 pulses.

  • Basic Crunch
  • Side Hip Raises
  • Flutter Kicks
  • Toe Touch Crunches
  • Side Crunches

I even did a quick video this morning so you can workout right along with me! No excuses!

My neighbors were walking by smiling; probably think I’m crazy. Annnnd, they’d be right! 🙂

Happy Wednesday all!!

How Do I Make My Water Count?

How Do I Make My Water Count?

Since choosing a healthier lifestyle and becoming a competitive runner once again, I find the area of hydration and fueling intriguing. When you are planning on being out on a course for 3+ hours (or 12 or how about 24? Yes, we are crazy), determining what you should eat and drink pre-race, during and post-race is important. In recent months, I’ve been frequently reading articles, listening to podcasts and most likely driving my running partner crazy sharing what I learn.

I have always had a tough time drinking enough water. As a young child and even as a college athlete, I struggled with water intake – I didn’t like the taste (or lack of?). Instead, after practices and races, I would choose sports drinks over H2O. Yes, those artificially-colored and sugar-laden beverages marketed towards athletes were my drink of choice.

When I first started training for a marathon last summer, I started experimenting with different beverages during and after my long runs. After one of the first longer runs (maybe 14 miles), I popped in to a nearby convenience store to grab a well-known sports drink. Trying to rehydrate after a particularly warm run, I thirstily guzzled down the ice cold, sweet and brightly hued liquid. Soon after, my stomach hated me. I felt terrible for hours. Never again.

During most of the training, I chose water, but I always craved something a little sweet post run. After learning about nuun at a local race and seeing a few running friends mention the product, I decided to give it a try. Honestly, in the beginning, I was not a fan of the taste. However, I quickly found flavors I did enjoy and began drinking after long training runs. Best part – I felt rehydrated; I didn’t feel the drink was sitting and sloshing in my stomach and I recovered well.

Per the nuun site, nuun “is an electrolyte enhanced drink tablet designed for an on-the-go lifestyle. Packed with electrolytes, light flavor, and made from clean ingredients, nuun is the perfect sports drink for any of the activities you do. Drop a nuun tablet into 16oz of water and you’re good to go.” Easy peasy.

19359268_10154630987772747_207328419_o

Also, I dig their Mission:
“To inspire a healthier, happier, more active lifestyle so that everyone can achieve life’s next personal best”.
Love.

Nuun has definitely helped me progress towards my goal of increasing my water intake not only for training purposes, but throughout the day as well.

19369129_10154630987727747_1664356563_o
A variety of flavors!

How do I make my water count? Before my morning run or pre-race, I toss a tab of nuun Energy into my bottle to start hydrating with a hit of caffeine. During the day, I prefer nuun Active or nuun Vitamins. Recently, a new product, nuun Performance was launched and I hope to sample very soon.

When the company started looking for 2017 brand ambassadors, I quickly applied since I had become such a fan of the product.

So, why else do I choose nuun over other electrolyte-replacement drinks?

nuun believes in a #LiveClean Standard – they want to replenish active people and the planet; so the company believes in producing a:

  • Clean product: clean ingredients, vegan, gluten-free, non-gmo
  • Clean planet: minimize carbon footprint with minimal waste and production energy
  • Clean sport: nuun values the essence of clean sport and have pledged to play by the rules and hold themselves to standards of integrity of sport
19402414_10154630991322747_1440352353_o
Sharing my nuun love post-run

Have you tried nuun before? What are your thoughts?

Oh my gosh Becky, look at her….quads?!?

workoutwednesday

Although my marathon training plan includes a mixed bag of runs – long, easy, speed training, hills – there is one that generates maximum force. Hills!

When you think of a hill workout, I’m sure you think of a workout like this one.

Run up hill, jog down, repeat.

Uphill-road

And, I’ve done those….but….

Coach’s prescribed workout for me yesterday consisted of 10 x 1 minute downhill repeats. Jog up and barrel back down.

Sounds easy – just let gravity do its job right? Not.

Hellloooo quads!

19142246_10154617227312747_1281705755_n

My upcoming marathon is pancake flat. So, why do I even bother with hills?

Currently, I am in the strength period of my training plan which includes a variety of hill-based runs. Running hills help build strength, increase VO2Max and of course, tackle hills more easily.

What happens when you run downhill? The muscles in your legs elongate and actually generate more force than when running uphill or on level ground. Running hard downhill also produces more impact on our bodies – joints, bones and muscles. Training on hills helps the body to adapt to the force, repair itself and in turn, become stronger.

Strengthening the muscles used on downhills easily translates into faster paces on any type of terrain.

As you descend down the hill, it is important to work on quickening your cadence and shortening your stride to have better control over form. Stay off your heels and don’t brake!

Planning on running Boston 2018? Add this workout into your regimen to ready your legs to tackle the 4-mile downhill in the beginning of the race.

Tips:

  • Add in the downhill workout early in your training plan.
  • Choose a hill that’s less than a 10% grade. 
  • If you can get on a softer surface, do it. Otherwise, it’s okay to hit the pavement.
  • Start with 5 downhill repeats and work your way up to 10.
  • Use rocks or chalk to help you count your reps!

Result? A great workout, fun stats and killer quads!

19182130_10154617217677747_1880587810_o19212630_10154617217652747_1974542159_o19179304_10154617217567747_914556169_o

Thanks Coach!

Sign up today for more information and upcoming events!RIT_TRIANGLE_woWeb

 

 

 

Goal Inventory & Teaser!!

040eab19c4b3a2998fd317581f2cc148

It seems like just yesterday I was creating and posting my goals for 2017.

Here we are, already about halfway through the year and honestly, I haven’t looked back at my goals post since I published. So today, I decided to take a glance to see how I am doing.

Race-Related Goals:

  • Mile – I wanted to break 6 minutes and clock a 5:45. Last week, 5:21. CHECK!
  • 5K – Breaking 20 was my goal for this year. Added in speed work as I had planned and ran sub 19 in May. CHECK!
  • Half Marathon – 2017 goal was to break 1:40. Shamrock Half was very kind to me in March – 1:29. CHECK!
  • Marathon – I mentioned I wanted to simply beat my 2016 time of 3:46 and possibly BQ. In progress…  Training well underway for Erie at Presque Isle Marathon on September 10 and I am definitely chasing that unicorn.
  • Ultra? The thought was a maybe. However, all signed up for JFK 50 with Sara! In progress…

Other Goals:

  • Train my husband for his first half: CHECK!
  • Find more opportunities in the fitness/running industry – started working full-time in fitness once again. CHECK! Also in progress, PT certification.

As I stumble upon exciting new experiences offered to me, I now hesitate for only a second before jumping in with both feet. Why not?

Unsure if I purposely found more opportunities or the opportunities found me! Since late last year, I’ve continued to grow in several areas – who knew I would willingly tell my story in front of a group (and like it!)?

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a new project (I obviously do not have enough on my plate). On one early morning run, a business idea appeared in my mind. (Side note: anyone else find clarity while running? I find my best ideas and thoughts occur on runs).

Next thought – can this idea work? This little spark soon turned into a raging fire to determine how to put this plan into action. Like any unchartered path, there have been obstacles, excitement about the unknown, and a little self-doubt. However, I’ve been lucky to not have to blaze this trail alone.

3e7c76ab5f476085de53b60385f69c56

The time is coming to let you all in on the secret.

With some collaborative sweat equity, a simple idea developed into more than I anticipated. I am so excited to share the plans which have been in the making for months and I hope you all will be excited as well.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook so you don’t miss the big announcement!

facebook-icon-preview-1

As for now, I need to go update those goals…

 

 

Guest Post: Sierra’s Journey

“Feeling healthy and feeling good about yourself is NOT a luxury – it’s an absolute necessity.”

In honor of May being National Mental Health Awareness Month, I asked my daughter Sierra to rehash a social media post she shared late last year about her own journey into better physical and mental health.

From Sierra:

At first, I was very hesitant to share my story of how fitness has positively affected my life because I am not very good at opening up to people but I was encouraged to share my story.

My sophomore year of high school, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I had always noticed when I worked out more often, exercise helped my symptoms. During this time, I was involved in competitive cheerleading and track & field, and I always felt my best after a rigorous practice. The summer before my freshman year of college, I was working out harder than ever. I was constantly in the gym and I felt amazing.

Unfortunately, as soon as I arrived to college, my schedule and habits changed and I completely stopped working out. I continued to be somewhat sedentary and ate unhealthily through my freshman and sophomore years. After two years of not working out and eating whatever I wanted, I had gained 20 lbs. When I realized how much weight I had gained and saw how great of shape Becky was in after a year of getting back into fitness and eating healthier, I became eager to make a change in my life. I was so afraid to begin though. At first, I didn’t know if I would even remember how to workout. I had also become very intimidated by the gym and was afraid to go. I felt as though I would be judged if I went.

In May of 2016, I started running and attending the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes Becky taught at HIIT Like A Girl and eating healthier. Running was the main aspect that really sparked my fire. I had been a sprinter in high school and had never run more than 2 miles at one time. I also thought long distance running looked like torture and had no interest in trying it….until last May.

In the beginning, I started out by running/walking 3 miles a few days a week. Eventually, I was able to run the whole 3 miles. Then, I ran my first 5k on July 4th (Liberty 5k). Running a race felt so incredible and I was happy to finish in under 30 minutes!

When I came back to school for the fall semester, I decided I wanted to try and go back to the gym to start lifting weights. I began going with a friend who knew more about weightlifting which made me feel more comfortable having someone to workout with.

Since last May, my life has changed greatly for the better. Fitness has brought so much more confidence, motivation and positivism into my life. Dealing with anxiety and depression has always made it so hard for me to become and remain motivated. I’ve always had to work extra hard to get myself going every day, and even though I’ve been pretty successful in my life, I had struggled tremendously with getting myself there. I used to have the most difficult time getting myself out of bed before noon. I would often miss class or show up late because I just couldn’t get the motivation to go.

cbc53ea3b139a4931b179b96ef8baa64

Now, I wake up much earlier (usually around 8 am) and I even have been getting up at 5:45 am for sunrise yoga on Thursday mornings at my college gym. I find when I start my day out with yoga, I feel so much more relaxed. I also run 3-4 times a week and workout to HIIT videos on YouTube. Not only have I run multiple 5ks, but I have also run an 8k and a two 10ks within a year of starting to run. I would like to run a half marathon by the end of the year, which I would have never thought was a possible goal for me before. In addition, I lost the weight I had gained since freshman year. Goodbye Freshman 15!

It’s truly an unbelievable feeling being able to conquer longer distances and achieve personal records. I also sit down and eat breakfast almost every morning before beginning my day now. I was never really a breakfast type of person before but now I always make sure I have time to eat breakfast because it helps with my energy level.

IMG_1706

I barely missed any class this past semester and the class that I did miss was not due to mental illness. Now, I have the motivation to get through each day with a positive mindset. I’m constantly busy due to school, work, sorority, and working out. I don’t even have much time to watch TV, but I haven’t felt stressed like I would have before. I am so much happier and have set a goal for 2017 of continuing to better myself physically, mentally and spiritually. I want to improve myself in all aspects so that I can become the best version of myself. I would not be where I am right now if I had not started running last year. I am so incredibly blessed to have the ability to be able run and workout, and I want to continue to do so as long as I can. As for the future, I plan to continue learning as much as I can about fitness and nutrition so that I can continue a healthy lifestyle and help other people.

My advice to others?

Starting to work out can be intimidating, but it can be extremely beneficial for anyone suffering from a mental illness. If you’re just starting out and nervous, even a run/walk for 30 minutes 3 days a week can be helpful. I’m not saying exercise will completely cure mental illness, but exercise is a natural form of medication I strongly believe in. I still have bad days but even on my worst days, getting a workout in or going on a run can make a big difference for me.

For anyone who may be struggling with a mental illness, I just want to say I know how it can be stressful and sometimes you feel like there’s no way out, but YOU CAN’T GIVE UP. Keep pushing yourself to find ways to put more positivity in your life; fill your life with positive people who you can lean on when times are rough.

You are stronger than you think and you will get through it.”

Thanks for sharing Sierra!

Workout Wednesday – Agility & DIY Ladder

Some may argue distance runners may not benefit from SARQ — Speed, Agility, Reactivity and Quickness—training, but I disagree.

SARQ training can benefit runners a variety of ways.

Key Benefits of Agility Work:

  • Provides a great dynamic warm-up.
  • Helps to improve coordination and body awareness.
  • Agility drills use more muscles than linear running – engaging more muscles requires more oxygen which increases the amount of energy that is expended = more calories burned!
  • Movement variability. While running, we are performing the same repetitive movement patterns. During agility, you can move in a variety of planes to strengthen your joints, ligaments and tendons which can help stabilize your muscles and help with injury prevention.
  • Use as a tool to work on form and cadence.
  • FUN. Doing the same workouts day in and day out can become monotonous. Adding in new types of engaging workouts can be challenging as well as exciting.

Do I think you need to spend a lot of time doing agility drills? Not at all; but every now and then it’s fun to shake up your routine.

Today’s workout utilizes an agility ladder. Ladders come with a cost so a few DIY options:

  • Easy version: chalk. Draw two parallel lines 15 ft in length and about 19 inches apart. Draw connecting lines every about every 15 inches.
  • Duct Tape (double layers).  Same as above.
  • Duct Tape & Paint Stirrers.  I tried this method below. First try was a bit rough, and I would recommend longer sticks and larger boxes.

Check out the video for the basic idea (thanks to my 10 year old for helping!).

Now that you have your ladder, let’s get to work!

For photo purposes, I made my guinea pig Coach Jeremy do the workout after one of our 4:45 a.m. runs. Between pre-dawn runs, ab workouts and now agility drills, I am pretty sure his neighbors think we are lunatics.

It was close, but he did a little better than this guy:

jack-russell-terrior-fail

Agility v.1: Basic Ladder Drills

Forward High Knees: Start at one of the ladder, facing the first “rung”. Run forward, driving knees up and placing 2 feet in each square before moving on.

Hmm, looks like the master has become the student. I have some work to do (I will give him a little leeway since his brain was probably still half asleep)!

IMG_20170516_102729

Lateral High Knees: Start at one of the ladder, with the “rungs” on your left. Move laterally performing high knees; placing 2 feet in each square before moving on. Change directions.

18575896_10154539218542747_964384249_o

Single Leg Hopscotch: Start at one of the ladder, facing the first “rung”. Both feet jump outside each square, then alternate one foot inside each square while moving forward.

IMG_20170516_103005

In/Out Hops: Start at one of the ladder, facing the first “rung”. Move your feet inside and outside each square while jumping forward.

IMG_20170516_102837

Lateral Switch Jumps:  Start at one of the ladder, facing the ladder side and “rungs” vertically in front of you. Move laterally while switching feet in/out of each square from side. Change directions.

IMG_20170516_103208

Overall, job well done by Running Dad Jeremy (no tears shed or pants pooped).

Now it’s your turn! This week you can get one entry for posting a picture of your agility ladder as well as a photo of you doing one of the drills!

Make sure you take a photo of yourself doing one of the Workout Wednesday WWPhotoContestexercises then post on the Facebook or Twitter pages of RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom to be entered to win a prize!

Challenge yourself! Need some incentive? RunningDad.com and I are challenging you during the month of May.
Take a #WW selfie of you doing one of our workouts and post on either of our Facebook or Twitter pages to try to win!

(1) Prize: (1) Nuun tube, (1) pair of Lock Laces, (2) Honey Stinger waffles and a $20 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods!

Rules:
1. Post your selfie on the Workout Wednesday post and use the #WorkoutWednesday tag. Photo can be submitted on either RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom Facebook or Twitter accounts.
2. Each photo equals one entry. Only one entry per Workout Wednesday will be counted. 5 Wednesdays in May = 5 chances to win.
3. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Nuun, Honey Stinger, Lock Laces or Dick’s Sporting Goods.
4. Contest will close at midnight EST on June 1, 2017. One winner will be selected and contacted on June 2, 2017.

Book Review: How Bad Do You Want It?

“You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a week, or you can quit and your mind will hurt for a lifetime.” — Mark Allen

A few months ago, I discussed the mental battle many of us feel when running whether you are a beginner or an experienced runner. A friend read my post and mentioned I should read How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald. 9781937715410

So, during a cold winter weekend, I downloaded a copy and curled up on the couch to gather some knowledge about the mental game. I knew this book would speak to me, but I wasn’t prepared for the negative emotional effect.

I’ll admit the beginning of the book was tough for me to read. To be brutally honest, I was pissed off. Sometimes reading the truth and admitting previous self defeat really sucks.

In college, I felt like that athlete who “pulled up lame”. I was tired. I had lost interest. My passion for running was at a low. I’ll confess I claimed a fake injury once or twice during a race when I couldn’t hang. So many life changes had occurred when I was in college and some days I felt I was just a lost ship at sea. Or maybe I just stopped trying.

For years, my goal was to use my running talent to earn a college scholarship. Looking back, once I achieved this major feat, I don’t recall setting a new goal. No goal to win the 800m at ACCs or qualify for NCAAs. Did I stop dreaming? Was I just happy to settle and have college athletics be my final destination? Unsure.

I’ve strayed – back to the story.

This book is a collection of stories about athletes who share their experiences; their battles and the coping mechanisms they have used to conquer the beast within themselves. I especially enjoyed reading about a runner named Jenny and her disaster of a race at 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Later, you find out her married name – Jenny Simpson – who was just in the most recent Olympics.

Upon finishing this particular chapter, I thought, “thank goodness”. I am not the only one. This fierce battle between mind and matter even happens to the best of the best.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone into the area where running is HARD is difficult for everyone. During a typical 5K, you have at least 3,000 steps to conjure up many thoughts – good or bad. And the bad tends to scream much louder than the good.

Since finishing the book, I have utilized a couple key tips while racing.

Embrace the hurt. Accept the fact that some of your run/race may be tough.

One of our local 5ks ends with a windy, gradual uphill about a half mile long. During the race, I knew it would be in front of me soon. I told myself, accept the challenge; yes – it will hurt. But you WILL run the hill and you will be finished soon. Fitzgerald mentions bracing yourself for a tough race or workout can boost performance by 15% or more.

Preparing yourself for the inevitable helps.

Also, reading and being reminded your brain is going to try to quit before your body is ready to give up. Studies show although you mentally feel you cannot take another step, your muscles are not at maximum effort yet. Mind over matter or matter over mind??

I encourage you to read this book if you’ve ever engaged in this mental war while running. You can admit you do – it’s more common than you think.

Whether you are an elite runner or a recreational jogger, I’m sure your mind has tried to make you quit before your body was ready. Arm yourself with a few coping tools and next time, you’ll be prepared to power through!

Now years later, my passion has been reignited and I’m back to racing. I feel as though I’ve been given a second chance to give it my all.

From here on out, and especially when I toe the line chasing that BQ, I will I ask myself, “How bad do you want it?”.

The answer?

Bad…very, very bad.

Workout Wednesday – Static & Dynamic Strength

My turn for Workout Wednesday!

During strength training, our muscles can produce force in three different ways. In the lifting phase of an exercise, the muscle is shortened, which is called the concentric action. When lowering the load and lengthening the muscle, this action is referred to as the eccentric action. If you have strength trained before, you are most likely familiar with these two dynamic actions.

Normally, many of us do not tend to focus on the static contraction.

This third action which causes our muscles to produce force are called isometric contractions. In an isometric contraction, no length in the muscle is created. Incorporating isometric exercises into your training can lead to gains muscle strength, flexibility and improved balance.

Today’s workout pairs all 3 contractions in a modified Tabata-style workout and we add in a little cardio as well.

Remember to warm up at least 5-10 minutes before starting. You will need light dumbbells and a mat.

Each exercise will be completed twice for 20 seconds on/10 seconds rest Static/Dynamic/Static/Dynamic before moving to the next set.

Workout will take approximately 25 minutes.

 

Group A:

  1. Static Squat/Squat (i.e. Static Squat/Squats/Static Squat/Squats)
  2. Low Push Up Hold/Push Up (i.e. Push Up Hold/Push Up/Push Up Hold/Push Ups and so on; pushups can be modified on knees)
  3. Static Lunge/Alternating Lunges

CARDIO: Jumping Jacks (20 on/10 off X 4), then 45-60 Seconds of REST

Group B:

  1. V-Sit/Chest Fly/V-Sit + Chest Fly (on floor; this one has 3 parts)
  2. Wall Sit/Squat Jumps
  3. Tricep Dip Hold/Tricep Dips

CARDIO: Skater Jumps (20 on/10 off X 4), then 45-60 Seconds of REST

 

Group C:

  1. Superman Hold/Superman Raises
  2. Side Plank Hold/Side Plank Hip Dips (Do Left, then Right; can be in modified position)
  3. Downward Dog Hold/Downward Dog Press

CARDIO: Jack + Alternating Kick (20 on/10 off X 4), then 45-60 Seconds of REST

 

Remember, the first exercise is a static hold, second is dynamic/moving (ie squat hold; up & down squats).

All of these strength and cardio exercises can be found online if you aren’t sure what to do. If you have questions, please feel free to ask!

Enjoy!

Benefits of HIIT For Runners

Stepping outside my comfort zone – chatting with you about what I feel are the benefits of HIIT for Runners!

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak at our local running store, Runner’s Retreat, about the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for Runners. While I greatly enjoy instructing HIIT classes, generally speaking in front of a group of people just about scares me to death!

When I’m nervous, I tend to talk about as fast as I run, so I decided to record my presentation and share my feelings on how HIIT has helped me become a better runner. This way, if you were there and couldn’t figure out what in the world I was trying to say, or you weren’t able to attend – you can hear it all now.

Bear with me, stepping outside my comfort zone here!

In case you missed my key benefits, HIIT training can help:

  • Improve muscular strength in multiple planes
  • Increase performance potential and help prevent injuries.
  • Improve muscular stability to increase your ability to efficiently transfer energy.
  • Increase lactate threshold – work at a higher intensity longer before reaching fatigue.
  • Provide an awesome metabolic benefit – continue to burn calories and fat after your workout for an extended period of time.

And from the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, here is an example workout for you to try!

Exercises are performed for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest time between exercises. Total time for the entire workout is approximately 7 minutes.

The circuit can be repeated 2 to 3 times.

HIITWorkout

Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions!

Until next time,

Becky

Workout Wednesday: Barefoot Strides & Partner Core

workoutwednesday

Bouncing off last week’s post about adding strides into your running regimen by RunningDad.com, today I want you to strengthen your feet by going barefoot.

For thousands of years, our ancestors walked and ran sans shoes all the time without injury. Somewhere along the way, shoes became an extension of our body. As years went by, soles became thicker and our feet became weaker.

There are twenty-six bones in each foot on average, plus the tibia and fibula of the lower leg. There are around a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the foot and ankle. When your feet are in shoes for the majority of your waking day, there is a compression of these bones and muscles that limits blood flow and weakens the supportive nature of your feet.

At the very least, I encourage you to kick off your shoes once you get home from work. Even better, go au naturel, free your feet and add in barefoot strides at the end of your next run. Running barefoot not only feels good on the tootsies, but can help strengthen the muscles in the foot.

Spring is finally here – the grass is green, so go out on your yard (or scope out the best lawn in your neighborhood) or if all else fails, head to a turf field. Be sure your surface is free from small rocks, sticks, glass and….poop (from animals, not people…hopefully).

Try doing 4-6 100-yd strides with rest in between after your next slow run!

And…a double feature for your Workout Wednesday – A Partner Core Workout

1st: Find a spouse, significant other, running partner, friend or random victim to help challenge your core. Do each exercise for 30-45 seconds; take 15 seconds to rest and transition. Do circuit two times.

Double Leg Circles: Lie on mats feet-to-feet. Each of you will extend your legs out and rotate your legs/feet in a circular motion around your partner’s legs. Don’t forget to go both directions!

18869698_10154577242197747_600622289_o

Plank Shoulder Pushes: Go into a plank position face-to-face. Take turns firmly pushing on each other’s shoulders. Stay strong and don’t let you partner push you back!

18869698_10154577241897747_85293446_o

Crunch w/Dumbbell (or Medicine Ball) Pass: Lie on mats feet-to-feet – knee bent. Both people come up to a crunch/sit up position at the same time – one passes a dumbbell or medicine ball to the other. Both return to starting position; come up into crunch/situp and pass weight again. Repeat.

18869646_10154577241792747_79140226_o

Oblique Sit-Ups: Lay next to your partner on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Hands should be placed on either side of your head. Your back should be flat against the floor. Engage your core and lift your shoulders off the floor to an upright position, rotating your torso towards your partner as you reach the top. Take the outside arm (the one that is farthest from your partner) and reach across your body, firing your oblique muscles, to give your partner a high five. Carefully lower your upper body back to the floor. Repeat, then switch sides.

18836227_10154577241607747_600015164_o

 

WWPhotoContest

Make sure you take a photo of yourself doing one of the Workout Wednesday exercises then post on the Facebook or Twitter pages of RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom to be entered to win a prize!

Challenge yourself! Need some incentive? RunningDad.com and I are challenging you during the month of May.
Take a #WW selfie of you doing one of our workouts and post on either of our Facebook or Twitter pages to try to win!

(1) Prize: (1) Nuun tube, (1) pair of Lock Laces, (2) Honey Stinger waffles and a $20 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods!

 

Rules:
1. Post your selfie on the Workout Wednesday post and use the #WorkoutWednesday tag. Photo can be submitted on either RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom Facebook or Twitter accounts.
2. Each photo equals one entry. Only one entry per Workout Wednesday will be counted. 5 Wednesdays in May = 5 chances to win.
3. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Nuun, Honey Stinger, Lock Laces or Dick’s Sporting Goods.
4. Contest will close at midnight EST on June 1, 2017. One winner will be selected and contacted on June 2, 2017.