Workout Wednesday: Barefoot Strides & Partner Core

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

Workout Wednesday: Strides

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Your workout of the day includes strides….what are they? And why I am doing them?

Coach Jeremy chats today about the benefits of strides, how to incorporate them into your running plan and how they can make you feel badass.

Workout Wednesday: Strides

Don’t forget your #WW selfie!

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? RUNaissance Mom 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.

Workout Wednesday: Core

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Runner or not, when the warmer weather arrives we all start thinking of trying to get tank top arms or rock hard abs. Abs may be made in the kitchen, but you still need to work on your core strength in the gym.

So, what do you consider your core?

Most obvious answer may be abdominal muscles, which are actually a very small part of the core. Our core consists of a variety of muscles which stabilize the spine and pelvis, and run the entire length of the torso including our glutes, hamstrings, obliques, and hips.  

In addition to rocking your summer attire, building a stronger core will also help you be a better runner. Benefits of adding core into your workout routine include:

  • Stabilizing muscles we use for posture. Have you ever had the opportunity to see your form at the end of a race; maybe a particularly difficult finish? Our postural muscles begin to fatigue just as much as our legs do. Maximizing power in your glutes and obliques helps create a better running posture and use less excess energy.
  • Stave off injury. Core exercises help reduce injury by helping to withstand the repetitive nature of running.
  • Create a solid foundation. Core exercises can help improve your balance which is helpful in missteps especially on uneven terrain.
  • And of course, you will look good in your racing attire.

Core for Runners V.1

Plank: Assume a basic push-up position. Rest weight on elbows and forearms flat on the floor. Raise hips and maintain a straight line from shoulders to feet. Position can be modified on knees. Hold for up to 60 seconds.

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Target: deep core and strengthen your lower back.

Running Benefit: Helps prepare core for hills and fatigue late in the race.

 

Reverse Plank:  Sit on floor with legs straight out in front of you and arms at your sides. Lift your hips off the ground and hold for up to 60 seconds.

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Target: work on glutes and hamstrings in this plank variation.

Running Benefit: Helps generate explosive power in the stride and protect against injury.

 

Donkey Kicks: Start on your hands and knees – hands should be under shoulders and knees under hips. Flex your feet. Keep the knee bent to 90 degrees and drive one heel up towards ceiling. Squeeze glutes, lower leg and repeat. Do 15-20 repetitions per leg.

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Target: hips, lower back and glutes

Running Benefit: Helps maintain a fluid running stride.

 

Fire Hydrants: Start on your hands and knees – hands should be under shoulders and knees under hips. Raise one leg out to the side, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees. Raise, lower and repeat. Do 15-20 repetitions per leg.

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Target: hips.

Running Benefit: Injury prevention in hip and knee.

 

Windshield Wipers: Lie on your back on the floor and raise your legs 90 degrees. Spread your arms straight out to your sides for support. Rotate legs to one side, stopping short of touching the floor. Rotate to other side. Do 15 total repetitions.

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Target: obliques, hips.

Running Benefit: Strengthen oblique muscles will help minimize side-to-side motion while running. Less energy expenditure = more efficient runner.

Single Leg Lowering w/Crunch: Lie face up on a mat with both legs straight up in the air. Lower your left leg to ground and return to upright position. Do a crunch up towards legs then return to starting position. Lower right leg, return to upright and crunch. Repeat. Do 15 repetitions per leg.

Target: abs, hips, quads.

Running Benefit: Overall core challenge.

 

Try these exercises after your next run. You don’t need a rock-solid six pack to be a good runner, but a strong core will definitely help (and you’ll feel good too!).

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!

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!

Forged by Fire

One day I woke up and decided I didn’t want to feel like that anymore, or ever again. So I changed. Just like that.

Sounds easier said than done, right?

I was tired of feeling tired all of the time. Tired of saying, “I’d like to”s.

I’d like to run again.

I’d like to lose weight.

I’d like to look fit.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going.

My runaissance has not had any boundaries; no finish line. Surrounded by those who inspire me on a daily basis, my spark has turned back into a raging fire. For years, my drive to succeed and be healthy sometimes felt more like a pile of smoldering ashes.

I’m not getting any younger. The days of becoming an elite runner may be behind me. Will this stop me? Probably not.

Some ask why? Why are you so competitive? Why not just run?

I reply, why not?

Why not show my children it’s never too late to try?

Why not see how far I can go?

Why not give it one last hurrah?

Recently, I watched the video below (by the way, this YouTube channel is amazing; you may become addicted to their vids). Check this out:

Wow, mind blown.

As mentioned, this message reminded me I may not even have scratched the surface yet of what I CAN do. I am willing to put in the work, even if it means waking up at 4 a.m. and working long days.

I am willing to risk failure in hopes of succeeding. I am willing to throw out lofty (but attainable) goals.

From the beginning of my return to running, my focus has not been trying to beat others. You may have seen me say I am chasing the old me. She was pretty fast and this may seem unattainable, but you can bet I am trying my hardest to catch her. Most of the time when I finish a race, a voice whispers, “maybe you can go a little faster.”  Runner problems.

And I don’t feel this way just about running – this applies in my work life as well. Returning to the fitness industry has revitalized a passion for helping others. Sharing my story – the peaks and the valleys – has allowed me have the opportunity to encourage and guide others on their own journey. I love this. My mind is full of possibilities and dreams of where this can lead.

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My soul is on fire.

Every morning when I wake up, I know there is someone else doing the same and possibly wanting the same success as I do; maybe even more. If I am not committed (some mistakenly call this obsessed) with getting better and doing more than everyone else, I may be left behind.

I hear footsteps every day.

Why someday? Why not today? I do not want to be left behind.

I feel forged by fire – stick around and see where my journey goes…

 

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.

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

Until next time,

Becky

How the times have changed…

What’s old is new again…but better?

Some say the days go by slow, but the years go by fast. Truth. When I think about my running hiatus, it can be so hard to believe it was 15 years ago when I walked off the track and hung up my running shoes.

Now, running is still the same; yet so different.

In the 90s, I pretty much donned a pair of trainers, maybe put on my Timex and went for a run. Maybe, someone would drive around and measure a course to navigate and off I’d go. I had no idea of pace; distance during the run or heart rate. I just ran. I’d finish my run and then drink tap water.

Coming back into the running world, wow, was I overwhelmed with new products and gear. Today, we are surrounded by GPS watches, a myriad of running shoes, compression gear, hydration replacement, fuel and so much more. This last year, I have been educated in many of these areas and have tried a variety of new gear. I thought I’d share my favorites for any runners who may new to the game.

All opinions are my own and not influenced by any brands mentioned.

Shoes

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I’m pretty sure my first pair of running shoes were a pair of Nike Air Pegasus and I know I definitely had the Asics above at some point. When I started running again, I tried to go back to my tried-and-true Asics and unfortunately, this brand just didn’t work for me as well as it once did. While training and racing half marathons, I was suffering from blisters often.

After researching and talking to friends who run in zero drop shoes, I decided to try a pair and I LOVE them. I wish had several pairs of Topos! Since I switched to a shoe with a wider toe box and also started wearing a better sock, I haven’t had a single blister.

Watch

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No fancy GPS, pacing or heart rate tracking here. Push start at the beginning and stop at the end….or wow, take splits! In college, one of my teammates was a math whiz and she would calculate our pace then inform the rest of us. Otherwise, we just tried to base our runs off of perceived effort.

These days, I have a simple but much more impressive Garmin – love being able to just hit the road running and have an idea of how far I’m going without necessarily having to plan a route beforehand. I do have to say I like the instant gratification of knowing my mile pace.

Hydration

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When younger, I usually rehydrated with basic H2O; most likely straight from the tap. Yikes. Maybe we had Gatorade or how about AllSport?

After training for a marathon throughout the summer, hydration was key for performance and recovery. I tried a variety of beverages to rehydrate during and after my long runs. Some made my stomach feel not too great. I’m happy to say I found Nuun and now I’m a Nuun ambassador. Clean product and perfect for me after a run or working out.

As far as basic water, learning about pH and the alkalinity of bottled and tap water has been eye opening – do you know what’s in the water you are drinking?

Fuel

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Now, this was a completely new area for me. I have struggled with hypoglycemia, so I was “fueling” 5Ks back in the day. Often I’d have an apple or bagel about 2 hours before I’d run. Some race days, you’d find me with a blue tongue prior to the race – I used to eat blue raspberry blow pops before races to give me a quick burst of energy to last through the 20 minutes of racing. Then, I’d crash.

When I started to train for half marathon and marathons, I asked many friends and researched fueling options including jelly bean and goo options. I headed to the store and purchased several different types which I tried during my training runs. Some were pretty gross and some were like candy (maybe my blue raspberry pop wasn’t too far off!).

My suggestion is to try several and find what works for you..and try them during your training runs, not race day!

Compression

Another new area of gear I’m learning about and I will be sharing more information on this category soon! Watch out for some news and a review in the upcoming days.

Massage/Foam Rollers

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Often, I think about how lucky I was in high school. My dad, mom or coach gave me a leg massage before every.single.race. We’d break out the Atomic Balm and I’d get a fiery leg massage before heading out on the track or course. Some serious ointment although these days, I use something less atomic.

Foam roller. Ahhh, my saving grace after my 1st marathon. I’m pretty sure every single muscle was sore after 26.2 miles. A friend suggested foam rolling, so once again I headed to the store in search of a foam cylinder to help with my aches and pains. Since I don’t have my full massage team at my disposal these days, being able to replicate a massage with the foam roller is great!

So, there are a few of my new favorite things.

Have you been a runner for a long time? What gear do you love now? What gear do you miss?

Until next time,

TRM