Archive for the ‘ workout ’ Category

Just Keep Swimming

train-for-swim  I recently talked with someone at my local running store about my hip flexor injury, lamenting the fact that I haven’t been able to run without exacerbating it. She gave me the contact info of a local sports physical therapist that she said was excellent and went on to say that she tore her hip flexor so she knows what I’m going through. It was great to talk with someone who actually went through what I’m going through now. She recommended swimming, saying that it not only kept her from going crazy while she couldn’t run, but that it kept her in good cardio shape and brought her back to running in three months.

While three months seems like a long time, my goal is to be a life-long runner so I want to recovery the right way and if that means taking more time to strengthen my muscles and prevent future injuries then so be it. The woman went on to say that her therapist recommended one-leg bridges (a favorite pilates move of mine actually). She said to do three sets with ten leg-lifts on each side every day. A pain in the butt (ha!), but strengthening the glutes, strengthens the hips, both of which are common weak areas for women so it’s good to focus on those muscles anyway.

I’ve been in the gym a lot, doing pilates and lifting weights, working on my core and legs especially. My body has definitely grown tighter and stronger, although I haven’t seen much, if any, improvement in my hip flexor. So my new goal is to contact a sports therapist and jump in the pool as much as I can. I’m not going to give up. I will run again. Like Dory says – Just keep swimming! 🙂

Happy running!

Pilates Power

PilatesEvery time I read up on great exercises I can do to improve my running and come back from my injury I come across moves that I typically do in my pilates class. The only problem is I hadn’t gone to pilates in weeks. Knowing that every week that passed that I skipped my pilates class was a missed opportunity to improve on these areas, yesterday I decided I had to go to class that evening. I threw on my workout clothes, laced up my sneakers, grabbed my mat, and headed out.

I’d forgotten how refreshing going to class was. I felt rejuvenated head-to-toe. And sore! But a good sore, letting me know the exercises were working all the right muscles. It also reminded me how much I appreciate all the camaraderie and support I find there. My instructor is wonderful. Super sweet and encouraging with such a positive energy it’s impossible not to smile even when she’s pushing us through difficult movements. My fellow pilates goers were also quick to give me words of encouragement. I’m already excited to go back. I’ll be back to running before I know it! 🙂

 

Winter Cross-Training

pilates benefits women  I’ll admit it, sometimes it’s just too dark and chilly out to go for a run. And although I still get my butt into gear to run regularly, I also work in more cross-training in the winter. I hardly ever feel like going to the gym during warmer days, so the winter months make an ideal time to build up other areas that will complement and improve my running.

Pilates – I love pilates. It is one of the best ways I’ve found to strengthen my body, keep me healthy, and make me a better runner. I take a weekly class at my gym that’s an hour long and kicks my butt every time. The key is to find a teacher that you are compatible with and that can push you in areas you can’t push yourself. I found a teacher who totally rocks and mixes up each class with challenging moves and isn’t afraid to add pilates props like exercise balls, rings, or bands to increase the difficulty of the moves. Also, pilates really focuses on your core which is essential for healthy running and staying injury free.

Strength Training – This is another great way for runners to build up muscles that assist in becoming stronger and staying injury free. Also, it’s really fun for me to see the looks of the guy dominated free weight area as I bench press next to them. 🙂 While there are a million things I could write about when it comes to strength training, there are two primary points to keep in mind: 1. Women who lift weights will not get huge, man-like muscles (unless they are purposefully working toward a competition or using *ahem* supplements) and 2. Please consult someone, like a trainer, who knows proper form before beginning any sort of strength training routine as bad form can lead to injury and won’t be as effective.

Yoga – Great for flexibility, yoga pairs nicely with pilates in improving your health as a runner. Once again the integral aspect is to find an instructor that can challenge you while providing good modifications to poses so you don’t over-extend your body into injury. There are several types of yoga too, so find the one that fits you best.

Spinning & Swimming – I combined these last two as cross-training areas in which I’d like to improve. I love to bike in warmer weather, but tend to set it aside during the colder months. Same with swimming. Both, however, are great ways a runner can keep fit cardiovascularly and easy to do if you belong to a gym. And if you want to make an investment, buy a bike trainer that you can hook your road bike up to and use inside your house – great cross-training without ever leaving the comfort of your home!

Happy Running! 😀

Summer Running – Beating the Heat, Part II, Gear

Part of staying cool during summer runs is dressing right. My running gear has morphed through the years (and will probably continue to as running gear continues to change and improve) both through the new products that come out/that I discover and my knowledge of what gear works best for my body when I run. Aside from the water bottles/hydration belts that I’ll comment on below, I could easily see myself becoming one of the women who wears their workout gear to Starbucks instead of just during a workout simply because my running wardrobe is that comfortable.

Head to toe (including accessories, minus undergarments) here’s a list of my favorite summer running gear:

  Nike Zoom Vomero 6 – I’ve tried several different types of shoes and this is the shoe that I’ve found works best for my gait – I supinate, ie. my foot tends to roll out when I run. The Vomero is designed for us supinators and has extra support on the outside to keep me injury free.

  Smartwool Lightweight Socks – I am in love with all things Smartwool. As a runner you quickly realize the difference and importance of having socks that keep your feet cool, comfortable, cushioned, and blister-free. There are a lot of running socks out there each one promising you the best comfort, but I’ve always gone to Smartwool simply because I’ve never had any issues with them. Long runs, in the heat, pounding asphalt, can really put your socks to the test and my feet have come through happy and blister-free.

  Nike Women’s Running Shorts – These shorts have great wicking material that keep the sweat away. They’re loose enough to not be baggy but give plenty freedom of movement. They also come with built in pockets which for me is a must as I often drive to my favorite shady trails to run and need a place to store a car key and a gel pack.

 

  Nike Fast Pace Women’s Running Tank Tops – I just discovered these shirts this year and love, love, love them! It’s hard for me to find running tank tops that are wicking and not super tight and these fit the bill perfectly. Not only do they keep the sweat away, but they hang loosely, not baggy, and are longer than a typical women’s tank top. Not to mention I love wearing bright colors and these come in a variety of cheerful (Hey, look there’s a runner!) hues.

  Sweaty Bands – It’s important to keep my hair out of my face as I run. I tend to sweat, a lot, especially in the heat and humidity of summer, and need something that will not only hold my hair back but will stay securely in place so I can focus on my run instead of fixing my hair every two miles. I’d heard great things about Sweaty Bands and ordered one to see if they were worth all the fuss. They are. I have a few now that I rotate through and they’re great. They can be also be rinsed in a sink, but I don’t put them in the washer as they tend to get stiff when they dry.

  Nathan Sprint Water Bottle – So here’s my disclaimer for these last two items: I am horrible when it comes to drinking and running unless I’m in a race. I drink water non-stop whenever I’m not running and while I’m well hydrated, I should drink more on my runs, especially in the heat. To confess even further whenever I’m doing a long run in the heat I make my girlfriend ride her bike and drink her water. Ha! It’s ridiculous. That being said, this water bottle and the hydration belt below are the two items I plan on buying this season. First, Nathan makes great products for runners and from the ones I’ve looked at in the store, this seems to fit my hand the best without being too constricting or hot. Best for runs when you don’t need multiple water bottles.

  Fuelbelt Hydration Belt – I tried this belt on recently and think it will work perfectly for my long summer runs. The breathable, padding makes it fit comfortably on my waist without moving around and chafing. It also has a removable race pocket that’s perfect for keys, cash, and gel packets. Fuelbelt also makes a four-bottle option as well.

 

 

 

Happy running! 😀

Summer Running – Beating the Heat, Part I

  First day of summer and the weather responded by climbing into the 90s replete with humidity. Lovely. I’m much better at running in cold weather than I am in heat. At least in cold my body gradually warms up to a point where I’m comfortable running. In the heat, however, it’s easy for your body to overheat and that can be dangerous if not fatal. Yikes!

Here are some tips I’ve gleaned over the years and try to implement throughout the dog days of summer:

1. Run early in the morning – This tends to be the coolest part of the day before the sun has baked the world all day.

2. Dress smart – Wearing light colors that will reflect the sun’s rays away and loose fitting clothing that breathes as you run. Also, fabrics other than cotton that will wick away sweat and keep you cool are a great idea too.

3. Water, water everywhere – Drink. Water. Lots of it. Your body craves more water more in the heat and the more hydrated you are the more your body will function as it should without shutting down. Shutting down bad. Water good!

4. Choose your path wisely – Asphalt radiates heat in the summer and while you probably won’t endure the sneaker-melting stories that you hear from the Badwater Ultramarathon it definitely will make your hot runs even hotter. If you know it’s going to be a hot, muggy day and the only time you can run is after work, choose a trail instead of hitting the road. You can find shade and running surfaces that reflect more heat than they absorb.

5. Protect your skin – Don’t forget to wear sunscreen whenever you go out. Sunglasses also help protect your eyes from the sun’s glare.

6. When all else fails, run (egad!) inside – Treadmills are often not the best friend of the outdoor runner, but when the mercury rises and the humidity envelopes you like a blanket it might be the smartest choice.

Remember your safety is your top priority. Training is key, but training smart is even better. Stay cool and happy running! 😀

Is It Running Season Yet?

   My Pilates teacher asked me during my last class if it was running season yet to which I replied – “It’s always running season!” But I do understand where she’s coming from. It’s tough running, or doing anything really, outside during the short, cold winter days. Especially for those who just beginning to run and aren’t fully into the addictive power of the sport yet.  Now, as the days grow longer and the weather warmer it’s easier to get outside and be active.

But if you still need motivation to move from your bum and into a healthier life, here are some things that might give you the kick you need.

1. New workout gear – I’m not saying to go buy an entire new fitness wardrobe, but having clothes/shoes that make you feel good about getting outside for a run/bike/swim. I highly recommend going to a running or sports store to try gear on first or read reviews before purchasing as every person’s body is different and you want the best support and comfort to make your workouts as enjoyable as possible.

2. Find a routine – There are some great programs for those looking for that extra push toward their fitness goals. For example: Couch To 5k (C25K) that encourages participates to ease slowly into running to prevent injuries and burnout from going too hard, too fast.

3. Workout Buddies – Find a friend to partner up with and get your butt in gear. Having someone who will keep you accountable when you don’t feel like working out is great motivation to stick to your plan. If none of your friends schedules jive with yours then hit up your local gym, running or biking store where there are often group runs, rides, or people searching for workout buddies.

4. Rewards – I know how easy it is to get sidetracked on the way to reach your fitness goals, so build in little rewards along the way to keep you motivated. A new piece of clothing, a new download for your Kindle, or some dark chocolate. 🙂

5. Setting a goal – Having a goal helps in making sure you stick to the habit of exercising on a regular basis. Maybe, like with the C25K, you sign up for a race in a couple months, or a bike ride or a sprint triathlon (a very short swim, bike, run tri).

Most importantly – have fun!!! Make your workouts fun and before you know it you’ll be wanting to get out and moving! 😀

De-Stressification

  Have you ever had one of those days where you feel pulled in a thousand different directions and thus can’t fully focus on any of the tasks in front of you? Oh yeah. It’s been that kind of week for me. Ugh. As much as I love my job, family, life, etc. I need to sit back and refocus on how to find my Zen. 🙂

If my brain were capable of writing more than this post, I would totally put that on my de-stress list, but, sadly, that’s not going to happen today. Here’s my top ten list of ways to unwind before tackling more of my Things To Do list:

1. Run

2. Read

3. Go to the gym

4. Pilates

5. Yoga

6. Walk the dog

7. Bake

8. Get a pedicure

9. Get a massage

10. Grab a pint with some friends

I feel less stressed just writing that list! 😉 And none of those things require any brain power, or very little, which is a great way to recharge for the tasks that lie ahead.