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My Next Run!

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My next upcoming run is a “fun run” on May 10, 2014 in NYC. In less than two months I’ll be getting chased by zombies during The Zombie Run. It’s a 5k race where zombies chase you (I’m actually pretty excited about this) and try to grab one of your three flags. Once all of your flags are taken, you’re out! That means a whole lot of sprinting as my friend, who convinced me to sign up, keeps reminding me. Sprinting is not exactly my thing, but I keep telling myself it’s only a 5k. However, on top of running away from zombies for 3.1 miles, the course will consist of 10-12 obstacles. I have done runs with obstacles before like Tough Mudder and Merrell Down and Dirty Obstacle Race, but I was able to run those at my pace. So this will definitely be an experience.

I’ve still been having trouble with my foot and I’m starting to believe I might have a stress fracture. I had one back in high school in my fibula- not fun. I had to stand around for a month or so watching everyone else practice and race. I haven’t tried running in about a month, but I know my foot isn’t ready. Which means it’s time to increase my cross-training so that I’m in decent shape by May.

My plan will look something like this:

Swimming- I already swim 3-4 times a week. My time in the pool consists of kicking laps, treading water, and a little bit of running.

Yoga- 1-2 days a week. Two words- flexibility and strength.

Biking- I’ll be adding 2-3 days of biking starting on Tuesday. It is low impact, but will give my legs and good workout. Biking is also a great cardiovascular exercise and can help with my speed.

Strength Training- This is partly for the obstacles since my upper body strength tends to suffer. It is to help my running- strong muscles support bones, making you less prone to injury. I NEED this. YOU also need this. Please don’t skimp on strength training because you think it will make you bulky. Strong does not have to mean jacked. I will most be using my gym’s cross-fit room where there is a TRX setup. I prefer using my own body weight over weights.

I plan on giving myself two weeks to figure out a regimen and then I’ll share the detail with you! 

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Stretching, Part 2

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Happy Sunday! And bittersweet Daylight Savings. Losing an hour of sleep on a Sunday is anything but pleasant, BUT it was still sunny at 6pm on the East coast. Which almost made me forget that totaled less than five hours of sleep last night. Almost.

Anyway, I wanted to continue last week’s discussion about stretching. I really can’t stress how important it is to take care of your body, especially for runners. So, tonight I wanted to share a few of my favorite stretches with all of you. These are the basic static stretches I during about a mile into my runs (static stretches are not recommended for cold muscles as it can lead to injury) and afterwards if I’m not being lazy or rushing. If you are the type of runner who prefers to be stretched out before you begin running I would recommend researching some dynamic stretches- they will warm up your muscles and allow them to stretch out a bit.

My top 7 stretches:

I do them in this order and hold each for 15-20 seconds. 

1. Arms and Obliques- stretches your triceps and when you lean to the opposite side of the arm being stretched you get a good side stretch. Ever have sore obliques after a long run? This stretch will make you feel so much better!

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2. “Tejada” Stretch- This one was introduced by my first track coach in high school, which is why it bears his name (for me and my teammates at least). It is a deep calve stretch and even stretches below the calves. It can be done on any slightly elevated surface, like stairs or bleachers, or with the ball of your foot against a wall. Stretch both calves.

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3. Quadriceps Stretch- When doing this stretch take care to not strain your knees by pulling your leg back farther than what is comfortable to you. Stretch both sides.

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4. Calve Stretch- Place your hands on a wall and lunge back with one leg far enough to get a good stretch. Then switch legs.

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5. Hamstring Stretch- Place your toes together and reach down towards them. If you cannot touch your toes right away, don’t worry! Your flexibility will increase over time if you stretch regularly. Doing this can also alleviate lower back pain if it is caused by tight hamstrings.

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6. Inner Thigh Stretch- Begin this one standing straight. Then step to the side with your right leg and lower yourself to the ground. I you feel a good stretch midway you can also stay there. Switch legs.

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7. Hip stretch- Place one foot over the opposite knee and lower your self into a chair position. Then switch. I didn’t start doing this one until my senior year of high school. I had been having problem with hip pain and the new cross-country coach showed it to me. Now, I make sure to always hold it for a full 20 seconds and I have not experienced the pain I felt that year again. Seriously, this one saved me!

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That’s all! I hope you guys like the stretches. Comment below and tell me some of your favorites!

Stretching, Part 1

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This week I wanted to discuss a question I believe a lot runners debate about. Stretching. And more specifically:

When should you stretch?

Before? After? Mid-run? Never? (Not good!)

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By Ed Yourdon (Flickr: Summer’s end in NYC, Sep 2009 – 02) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Back when I ran track in high school, each time my team got a new coach, he or she had a different idea of at what point in practice we should stretch. One favored stretching before our run. Another preferred stretching during our run. The last coach I ran for preferred having us run a half mile to a mile, stretch, and then begin our actual run. One thing they all believed in was stretching afterwards. Very important! It helps prevent soreness, speeds muscle recovery, and may help prevent injury. Although, I am guilty of skipping that part sometimes.

Today, I prefer to stretch after I’ve ran about a mile. Then, I just continue my run. It gives my muscles a chance to warm up. Ever since I switched to this method, I have felt stronger during my runs.

Now, since I am not a professional, I cannot tell you definitively when is the perfect time to run. I actually don’t think anyone can. Research on this matter is constantly changing. What I will say, is to try to figure out what works for you. Experiment a bit with the timing of your stretching- see what feels right and commit!

What do you all think, when is the next time to stretch? Comment below and let me know.

The Right Shoe, and the Left

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When you make the decision to start running, one of the most important steps is choosing the right sneakers to train in. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a sneaker because it’s popular or because your friend swears by it. They are not one size fits all. Running in sneakers that don’t meet your needs can make you more prone to injuries, like shin splints. Ouch!

There are many things you should consider before purchasing running shoes, including:

  • Body frame and weight
  • Terrain
    • Road, trail, or both
  • Arch height
    • If you are unsure of your arch height, wet your feet and step on a newspaper.
  • Pronation-
    • Over- feet roll inward excessively
    • Under- feet roll outward
    • Straight- roll inward slightly
  • Injuries
    • Plantar Fasciitis, bunions, etc.

You might be feeling overwhelmed by all of the factors. To help, there are a number of websites that provide shoe finder quizzes. I have used the shoe finders on both Road Runner Sports and Runner’s World. After taking the quizzes, your results will tell you what type of shoe fits your needs. Types include neutral, stability and motion control, which can further be broken down into performance sneakers. If you prefer more guidance, you can visit your local running store- many stores have someone who can watch you run and provide a few sneaker options that would suit you.

Hope this helps!

I’m Back!

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It’s been almost two months since my last update. That’s because between the relentless snow, ice, and my pesky little foot problem, my running has been nearly non-existent. I was practically ice skating on my way to work this morning! And I’m hearing more snow tomorrow. Sigh.

There is a silver lining though! In the absence of running, I have become more consistent with my cross-training. I might have mentioned this before, but I work at a gym. A gym I have rarely made use of until this year. I figured that if I can’t get in the runs I want, I might as well work on other areas. My cross training has mostly consisted of elliptical machines (I am not a fan of treadmills), cardio/toning circuits and my personal favorite, yoga! I also consider teaching swimming for a few hours a week a workout. 😉

My half marathon is a week from today, but I haven’t decided if I’ll run it or not. We’ll see what happens. 🙂 If I decide to, you can all expect a detailed update next weekend. Also, stay tuned for my next post, which will be on things to consider when buying running sneakers!

That Little Voice..

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“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

When I ran track in high school, beating other runners was the motivation. That isn’t the case anymore and I like that. I participate in events because I want to run, not because I want to win. Obviously I still want to do well; the dynamic is just different now. I’m my own competition.

It has been that little voice inside me that’s kept me from sticking to running after high school. However, since starting this blog I find myself itching to run most days. Most days. I still have days where my couch looks comfier than my sneakers. 😉

How do you guys stay motivated? 

Training Tips

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Doing the same type of run everyday can become pretty mundane and could kill your already low motivation. You might find that after a while you aren’t getting any faster. Work some of these into your routine to keep your training fresh, and increase your speed and endurance!

Long-distance Run (LDR)- Naturally, when training for a race the LDR is a staple in your training routine. The actual distance of you LDR will probably vary depending on the length of your race. It is also likely increase gradually as your race nears. But it should be longer than your usual runs. Do this once a week. 

Tempo Run– The tempo run was one of my favorite practices in high school. Basically, you run on increments with two different speeds. The longer increment is at a comfortable/moderate pace. The shorter one is a sprint. My coach used to have us run our usual pace for five minutes and then sprint for one minute.  

Hills– Most races don’t have a completely flat route. There’s no fun in that. 😛 Hills are always going to challenge you, but you don’t need to feel like you’re going to pass out every time you finish one. I suggest incorporating hill repeats into your runs. Build your route around a pretty tough hill and place the hill in the middle. Run to it as your warm up, do 5-8 hill repeats (run up, jog down), and then jog back to your start to cool down.

Speed Workout– Take it to the track! Logging miles is important, but that will only help your speed so much. Try to do this once a week and mix it up. One week do 200m repeats. Try 400m repeats the next. Tempo runs can also count as your speed workout. I would just suggest lowering the time on the slower increment and jogging slowly in between sprints.