Posts Tagged ‘ Strength Training ’

Getting Results

splitinroadMonday I had my follow up with my ortho doc to discuss the results of my MRI. The MRI itself was uneventful. Not as scary as I thought it was going to be which was a relief. It took about 25 minutes. My head wasn’t completely inside the tube since the scan was of my pelvic area, so I didn’t feel claustrophobic at all.

The doctor spent a half hour basically telling me that the MRI results were inconclusive. The good news is there were no apparent tears or other damage. The bad news is the doctor wasn’t really able to point me in the right direction. His advice? Rest. Apply heat. See him in 6 weeks.


After my visit with him, I headed straight over to my chiropractor to get a much needed adjustment. I love my chiropractor as well as getting regular adjustments. For those of you who don’t see one, I highly recommend it. You don’t realize how out of whack your body gets until someone puts you back in place. I always feel amazing whenever I leave.

When I saw her I mentioned my persistent discomfort and what the ortho doc had told me. After manipulating my leg through a few different stretches, she said she didn’t think rest would help because I’ve been resting and haven’t seen a marked improvement. She recommended that I see a physical therapist who also is an ortho guy who specializes in sports medicine. Her daughter saw this guy and it really helped. Her conclusion? Scar tissue build up. See a PT. Work it out don’t rest it.

Today I saw the PT. He was a really nice guy who talked to me for a while about the pain, then put me through a series of intensive stretches. Like many runners, I’m very inflexible, so it hurt! His theory is that my pelvis is out of line which in turn pulls my muscles out of line, puts strains on my ligaments and causes pain as I do cardio or other specific strengthening exercises. He worked for a while on pulling, pushing and moving my leg to try and get any parts that may have shifted back into place. He left me with this advice: Do hip flexor exercises, start back with light cardio and strength training, and come back to see him in a week.

Three “experts,” three different ideas of where I should go from here. So where do I go? What can I do to be smart and get back to running again? Here’s what I’m going to do: Light cardio, strength training, stretching, ice and heat. My main problem is that I get so excited to workout that I do too much too fast and end up worse than when I began. So this time I’m going to work at being smart, starting slow and stopping before the pain starts rather than when it starts.

Wish me luck! 😀

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, or websites like 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:


Goblet Squat











Walking Lunge







Single-Leg Squats






Single-Leg Deadlifts






Bulgarian Split-Squat







Russian Twist

russian twist with medicine ball











Back Extensions














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! 🙂

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! 😀

Muscle Myths #2

   A few days after I told my colleague about how to use a resistance band to tone her arms, I asked her if she had tried any of them. She said she had and I asked how it was going.

“Well…” she said.

“What?” I pressed.

“My boobs hurt after I did one of the shoulder exercises, so I haven’t done them since.”

I stared at her, then asked, “Hurt as in sharp pain or hurt as in sore?”

“Hurt as in sore.”

“You do know that it wasn’t really your boobs that were sore, but your chest muscle under your boobs, right?”

She looked at me in confusion. “But I thought the exercise was for my shoulders…”

“Yeah, but sometimes other muscles are used to help do the exercise so that just means you were doing the exercise right.”

“Really?” she asked, still incredulous about the whole thing.

“Really,” I said. “But you should keep doing the exercises if you want to see any results.”

“Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to do them again – I don’t want my boobs to shrink.”

I laughed out loud before I realized she was serious!

“Why do you think your boobs will shrink?” I asked.

“That’s what I’ve heard happens when you lift weights.”

Huh?!? Not only was she NOT lifting weights, but she was freaking herself out after doing ONE exercise. Yikes! I’ve been lifting weights for about ten years and my bra size has never changed.

I sighed. “That won’t happen, I promise.” She opened her mouth to protest, but I cut her off. “Look, women tend to gain weight and lose weight where extra fat is stored. Sometimes women who lose a lot of weight will also see their breasts reduced because of the excess fat that’s being stored there. You don’t have weight to lose and since you’re just toning your muscles your boobs won’t get smaller.”

“Oh.” Then she brightened as it sunk in. “Ok! That’s cool that I was actually sore from those exercises then!”

I smiled.

Then she added, “I can’t wait to get my arms toned for my brother’s wedding next month!”

I groaned.


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Muscle Myths

  I was recently chatting with a colleague who told me she wanted to tone her arms for an upcoming wedding in which she’s a bridesmaid. I told her that she should start to lift weights regularly and that I could show her a few exercises if she wanted. “I don’t want to lift weights!” she bemoaned. “I don’t want my arms to get huge!”

For some reason that I have yet to determine, I’ve heard this worry from women multiple times. I don’t know if some women associate lifting weights with men and see those same men with big muscles and come to the conclusion that they too will have the same muscles as a man if they lift weights. But it just doesn’t work that way. Rarely, if ever, will a woman gain the same muscle mass as a man does and even then it would be because she’s specifically trying to bulk up by taking supplements and/or following a very specific diet/heavy weight lifting regime.

I happened to be wearing a sleeveless blouse that day and so I asked my colleague if she thought my arms were muscular (this was a humbling question as I like to think my arms are very toned and am quite proud of them, but I also know that they don’t look muscular in a bulky, “man muscle” way). She looked at my arms and said, “No…” I told her I could probably curl 30lbs with one arm. Her eyebrows shot up and she said, “Really?!?” “Really,” I said. “And strength training is a great way to keep healthy, especially as you get older.” (She’s 25 and constantly frets about being “old.”) I went on to say that if she wants to tone her arms, she should buy a resistance band instead of 2lb weights (that she was going to buy) because then you are working against your own strength so you won’t outgrow a resistance band the same way you would weights.

We ended the conversation with her saying she was going to run to Target and buy a resistance band and me telling her some exercises she could do to tone her arms.

(Resistance Band Arm Exercises.)

Tune in tomorrow for: Part 2 – My colleague does an exercise and mentions – Muscle Myths #2

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Resistance Band Exercises

There are different types of resistance bands, some more flexible than others and some with handles. Choose something that is relatively inexpensive and mid-range in flexibility to begin with. I’d recommend something without handle as well because it gives you more freedom in how hard/easy your workouts are. As your body adjusts to these exercises and grows stronger (and it will!) move your grip closer to each other on the band to increase the resistance. Start small – 2 sets of 8 repetitions, for example – so you don’t burn yourself out and stop after a day.

Here are a few arm exercises using a resistance band to get you started:

Bicep Curl – Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder width distance on the band. Use either a palm upward grip or a hammer grip (thumbs toward the ceiling) to hold the band. Move your arm at the elbow to curl the band toward your chest. Lower toward your hips and repeat.

Side Lateral Raises – Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder width distance on the band. Extend your arms out to your sides until they are parallel to the floor. Your body should be a “T” shape. Lower to your sides and repeat.

Front Lateral Raises – Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder width distance on the band. Extend your arms in front of you until they are parallel to the floor. Lower to your sides and repeat.

Rear Shoulder Raises – (I’ve seen this done sitting and standing. I prefer to do them seated, but choose whichever is more comfortable.) Sit on a bench or chair so your feet are ninety degrees to the floor. Place your feet shoulder width distance on top of the band. Begin by holding the band in front of you. Move your arms in an upward sweeping motion until they are flush with your back. Try to squeeze your shoulder blades together when you do this. Lower your arms back in front of you and repeat.

  Tricep Extension – Grab one end of the band. Raise your arm so your elbow is pointing toward the ceiling and the band is hanging down your back. Grasp the band with your other hand so that your palm is facing outward and your hand is resting around the middle of your back. With your top hand, extend your arm toward the ceiling, trying to get it as straight up and down as possible. Lower and repeat. Reverse hand positions and repeat with your other side.

These exercises are ones that I’ve used many times in the past and enjoy the results I’ve gotten from using them, but I am not a certified fitness trainer. Please consult a personal trainer or physician if you have any questions.

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