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! 🙂

 

Support Your Local Brewery

sylbCraft breweries are popping up around the country like crazy. I love tasting new brews and there never seem to be a shortage of them. Recently I stumbled upon a logo for supporting local breweries. CraftBeer.com, the site behind the logo, has a plethora of great information for everything beer. Anyone can sign up to be a member and receive news and information from the site.

Curious about what craft breweries were in New Jersey, I clicked on the link for my state. There were a ton! I pride myself on being in the know when it comes to the breweries around me, but was surprised by the number I’d never heard of. Several are in the works of being built or growing their business, but there was one that I happened to find at the perfect moment – the opening of the brewery and the creation of their first batch of distributed beer. Cool!

Flounder Brewing Co. is a brand new craft brewery right down the road from me in Central Jersey. Their first batch of beer, Hill Street Honey Ale, is an American Ale brewed with New Jersey harvested honey. I’m super excited to try it and judging from the amount of followers they have on their facebook page, many others are too. One thing I appreciate as a beer enthusiast, aside from a good product, is a well-maintained website and regularly updated social media sites. Flounder Brewing Co. has both. When I posted on their facebook page I received a response within an hour – impressive!

I can’t wait to drive over to tour their brewery and be a part of supporting my local brewsters. 🙂

Spring Weather = Outdoor Fitness Fun

springbikingMy mood always improves as the weather grows warmer, the days grow longer, and the sun shines more. This means I can take full advantage of all the other outdoor activities I love. So while I continue with my strength training routines at the gym, I’m eager to bask in the sunshine. Biking, disc golfing, walks, maybe even a little pitch & putt.

Recently, my wife and I found an amazing place a short drive from our house called Duke Farms. At 2,740 it’s one of the largest areas of privately-owned undeveloped land in the state. With 18 miles of trails, paved and unpaved, it’s ideal for walks with children, biking, running, or hiking. There’s even a family of eagles you can watch or view over the farm’s Eagle Cam! Cool! You can hop on a little tram that goes around the trails if you get tired of trekking. While it’s open year-round, we visited for the first time a couple weeks ago – it was absolutely beautiful! Our family is already looking forward to our return visit. 🙂

 

Beer + Running

beerracesPeople everywhere are discovering the joys of running. And beer. With the number of running participants growing exponentially in the past few years, it’s easy to find a race to enter every weekend of the year. Creating new race themes also seems to be in vogue, so with craft beer on the rise around the country, pairing the two seems like the next logical step.

Some of my favorite races are the ones that incorporate beer into them. I’ve gotten pint glasses from a half marathon and a four-miler that I’ve run. I still feel a sense of pride every time I pull them out of the cabinet to use. Local pubs and bars often sponsor races and discounted pints after the race. And while I’m not a fan of running and drinking at the same time – I’d rather enjoy my frosty brew as a post-race reward – beer races are growing in popularity. There’s even a website devoted to beer races – willrunforbeer.com. Then there’s the Beer Mile where participants must follow strict rules regarding chugging beers in between running laps around a track.

Have fun finding your next beer race. Happy running and remember to drink responsibly! 😀

 

(Note: The illustration was created by artist John Hendrix for Peter Sagal’s article in the September 2012 issue of Runner’s World.)

On the Mend?

runstrongToday my hip flexor felt a lot better. I’m hoping that it’s not temporary, but that it’s truly on the mend. Every day I think of ways to expedite the healing process and get back on the road running. Yesterday I focused on my legs and, because it wasn’t causing me any pain, worked them to fatigue – i.e. I did exercises until my legs felt like jelly.

I researched leg exercises that might help me strength the weak areas of my legs – namely, my glutes and hip abductors and aductors. These included side squats, split squats, and hip ab/ad machine. The side squats were especially challenging, but I stuck them out because they focus on all the areas of my legs that are the weakest.

I don’t know if it’s strange or not but I feel like I’ve gotten a good leg workout if it hurts to sit down or walk down stairs the next couple of days. 🙂

I’ve also been laying off any cardio – SO, SO, SO hard to do! – until my legs get to a point where I can run without pain. I really think it’s been helping, so as hard as it is, I just keep reminding myself that it’s all for the long term benefits.

Happy running! 🙂

 

Beating the Running Blues

sadrunnerEvery so often an injury will derail me from my running goals. Because running has become so much of my identity I rely heavily on being able to run to find peace of mind emotionally, physically and mentally. When I can’t run it really affects me on my many levels. Lately I’ve been faced with this challenge and have been forced, or, thinking positively, given the opportunity, to find ways to cope with not being able to run.

So instead of getting depressed and mopey, here, after much self-reflection, are:

Runner Sami’s Tips for Beating the Running Blues

1. Use the time off to become a stronger runner – Find cross-training activities that won’t exacerbate your injury. Biking, swimming, pilates, yoga, and strength training are all great ways to build up muscles that will help keep you injury-free in the future.

2. Invest in other areas of your life – Because running is my positive outlet, it’s important to reroute those energies into other outlets while running is on the back burner. Find ways to invest your time that make you happy. Writing, catching up with friends, spending time with my family, or planning a trip are some things I have found help rejuvenate me when I’m not able to run.

3. Read about running – For some people this might be too painful, but I’ve found that reading about running helps me feel like I’m still involved in becoming a better runner. Books or articles about running help me focus on positive ways to help my recovery. There are always ways I can better myself as a runner and it’s fun to read about interesting races I can sign up for once I’m at full running capacity again!

4. Be an active participant in your recovery – You’re not alone. There are a lot of resources online through blogs, social media sites like dailymile.com, or websites like runnersworld.com for runners looking for support or providing helpful tips and strategies for those coming back from injuries. Finding answers and lending support to others are great ways to aid in recovery.

5. Eat healthy, be happy – When I can’t run my mind automatically starts to dwell on all those extra pounds that are going to fly onto my body. Even if this is not realistic, eating healthy helps me keep a happy frame of mind until I can go back to burning the calories I’m used to burning. And eating healthy is always a great habit for helping me become a stronger runner.

Happy running! 😀

Top Ten Strength Training Exercises for Runners

KettleBellSquatWinter is a great time to focus on the weight room, building strong muscles that will keep you from injury and help you to become a more dynamic runner.

While I’m a big proponent of pilates for strengthening muscles, especially core muscles, I also like to incorporate weights into my strength training workouts. There are many exercises that are effective in building a stronger you, but below are my:

TOP TEN STRENGTH TRAINING EXERCISES FOR RUNNERS

Goblet Squat

1001-goblet-squat-483x300

 

 

 

Push-ups

Push-ups

 

 

 

 

Walking Lunge

walking-lunge

 

 

 

 

 

Single-Leg Squats

single-leg-squat

 

 

 

 

Single-Leg Deadlifts

single-leg-deadlift

 

 

 

 

Bulgarian Split-Squat

split-squat

 

 

 

 

 

Russian Twist

russian twist with medicine ball

 

 

 

Pull-ups

pull-ups

 

 

 

 

 

Back Extensions

backextension

 

 

 

 

Step-Ups

Dumbbell-StepUp

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I said, there are many more exercises that are wonderful and also effective for runners, but these are a great place to start. These focus on the entire body, but specifically legs and core. There are many different camps in regards to how often, how many reps, and how much weight one should lift, but I would recommend to start with 3 sets x 10 reps of enough weight that you can keep good form for each exercise while still taxing your muscles. If you can do all the reps with ease, you need to increase the weight. (Sidenote: Just last week I was doing the same exercise as a man twice my size but with a heavier weight!)

Happy running! 🙂