Race Training Pep Talk.

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Anyone can do anything they put their mind to. Did I say training is easy? Well that all depends….how bad do you want it?

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The key to completing the challenge of race training is first and foremost really wanting it. You have to move your training to one of your top priorities for the next couple of months. Think and plan your action steps every night before you go to sleep. Act on the steps every day on schedule. If you are planning what you are going to do the moment you wake up, it’s already too late.

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It is important to be very realistic. Don’t set yourself up for disaster! You must assess yourself and start at the correct level. You can choose your training program and the length of time it takes to complete, so don’t feel like your starting point is to low to finish strong. Always strive to beat you OWN personal goals.

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Don’t hang where it’s comfortable.

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Keep improving! You always need to be trying to beat yourself and expect more.

Every run isn’t going to be perfect, and thats OK. Be positive. Don’t keep saying “I’m out of shape”, “I don’t run”.  If you are in this thinking about a race, you must want to accomplish that goal for a certain reason. Whether it’s time for you to get into a healthier lifestyle, or you want to prove to yourself that you can stick to and conquer something out of the ordinary, make sure your mind is on point every single day. There is no harm in talking to yourself (as crazy as you think it sounds). Recognize your successes, congratulate your self, and take it up a notch. Don’t be down on yourself, keep pressing and accomplish what you’ve set out to do….no matter how many tries it takes! 

Now get your mind in the game and let’s do this. What are you waiting for? Lace up and GO!!

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Running Technique: Be Aware!

People enjoy running for a wide variety of reasons. Whether your reason to lace up is for health or fun, stress relief usually goes hand in hand. However, if you aren’t aware of your running technique things might turn out just the opposite.

Why do you run? Click to find what running means to you.

why run

Start off with some good ol’ people watching. Take a good look at 5-10 people and evaluate their stride. Can you guess what you might notice? Everyone has a very unique way of doing it. You can read articles galore about the “right” way to run, but the truth is that we all have distinctive qualities that set us apart. Some of us have short legs, long legs, flat feel, high arches, small hips, wide hips, my list is endless….but i’m sure you get the picture! What works for someone else may be uncomfortable to you. The key is to know a few simple rules to follow during each run. Complete a body scan every so often during your run to tweak yourself back into alignment.

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Work your way from top to bottom:

Head

Be aware of your gaze.

-Don’t ever look down. Some people are very concentrated while running and may let their eyes fall to their feet. This could cause a lot of stress on your neck which leads to tightness and fatigue. Your gaze will guide you naturally, so keep it forward. Look ahead a good 50 feet or so toward the horizen.

-Pretend that you are hanging from an imaginary string from the top of your skull, keeping your head centered between your shoulders. Avoid leaning too much forward (or backward) by being aware of where your chin is pointing.

-Keep your jaw relaxed, don’t clench your teeth. Be aware of your automatic facial strains to avoid tension headaches.

Body

Good posture is key.

-Your shoulders should be low and relaxed. If you feel them raising to your ears and feeling tense, take a few seconds to shake it out. Treat yourself to a few forward shoulder rolls.

-Don’t be slouchy! Again, your your imaginary string to pull you up. Run tall and proud! By doing this, your torso and hips will be in optimal position. If you are hunching or tilting, take a recovery walk and correct it before continuing. Bad posture can lead to lower back issues.

-Engage your abs. Keeping a strong core will also help those pesky lower back twinges.

Stride

Keep it personal.

-You must perfect your stride to where it’s comfortable to YOUR  body and height. Try not to waste your energy by lifting your knees to far off the ground. A low, strong stride is better for running distance (versus sprinting). Keep your knees flexible and unlocked at all times.

-Your arms should be moving naturally. Be sure to keep a loose grip. It may be natural to close your hand, but don’t clench your fists. Lightly touch your middle finger to your palms at most.

-Don’t slam the ground with your feet! Your should land lightly. Briefly touch the ground and powerfully spring into your next step using your calf muscles. You should be landing mid foot and rolling onto your toes. A soft, quiet run is your goal. People should never be able to hear you coming.

 

Your simple checklist:

Looking ahead?                           Check! √

Loose neck/head/shoulders?   Check! √

Engaged abs?                     Check! √

Running tall with posture in alignment?   Check! √

Low strides?                      Check! √

Loose knees/ankles?       Check! √

Staying “sneaky”?   Check! √

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(is THAT why they call them sneakers?! Tee-hee :))

So there you go! Now you can complete your full body scan throughout your runs for an optimal experience. Keep running enjoyable! Avoid muscle strains, tension, and stress on your body.

And MOST importantly, stretch properly! You can scan yourself a million times, but without stretching you are asking for problems!

Read up on why stretching is so important and what you should be doing religiously.

Stretch (like Armstrong)

Mandatory Runner’s Stretches

Static Stretch Series

$$$ Rewarding Running Apps

  Question:  

 Have you ever been guilted into going to the gym solely because you were paying for it? Go ahead, admit it. We are all human and sometimes don’t do things for the all the right reasons.

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But hey, it’s ok! When you are first starting a new workout regimen, the first few weeks can be very trying. Even if you used to work out and are finally picking back up where you left off, it can be difficult. You may be hearing people say,

Oh, you are going to feel soooo good after you work out.

And you might just want to strangle them because at this point, it doesn’t make you feel good. In fact, you need a lot more motivation than that!

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They are right though. That “good” feeling they are talking about is real. Science shows that endorphins release during a good sweat session, leaving you in a better mood.

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So why is it so darn hard to begin… let alone “stick and stay” with your routine for the first few days, or even weeks?

Well, the truth may very well be that until you get that energetic feeling and burst of endorphins flowing though your body, you may need a push from a different direction.

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If the motivational pictures and articles just aren’t cutting it for you…..take a look at this!

gympact

Gympact is an app for your phone that helps you keep your gym promises like no other. How? You set your goal for the week, link your PayPal account, and get money deducted for each workout you miss. The best part is, if you KEEP your workouts, you get paid at the end of the week by the SLACKERS that didn’t hit the gym!

The app icon looks like this:

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You check in by GPS at known gyms such as LA Fitness, or you can sync your outdoor activities with RunKeeper app.

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Both of these apps are equally awesome and absolutely FREE!! 🙂

So go ahead, check it out for yourself if you need that extra kick! When you first sign up, they give you a $5 credit to test it out…not requiring PayPal information right away if you’re still unsure about the whole thing.

If you stick to your goals, you can reward yourself with new gym gear, pamper yourself with a massage, or even pay to sign up for your next race!

(FYI: I do not get paid for reviewing companies. I just like sharing tools to help you succeed!)

And remember….

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MANDATORY Runner’s Stretches

YES, mandatory! These are not optional…

For some horrible reason, most people dread stretching. It’s so strange because after you stretch, you are usually so happy that you did it! If we could just remember that feeling 🙂

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If you do NOTHING else, please take my advice and complete at least these 4 important stretches FOLLOWING EVERY SINGLE RUN. If you neglect this important part of training, you are at risk of injury, or chronic soreness which will most definitely interrupt your training plans and lifestyle.

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Hamstrings

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Hamstrings can become tight after runs if not stretched properly which can affect your stride. It is important to treat your hamstrings with care when stretching because they are commonly pulled which can cause many problems for you. Wait until your muscles are nice and warm before giving them a deep stretch.

 1.

Lie on your back. Plant one foot flat on the ground, and raise the other leg with your foot  flat to the ceiling. Loop a towel or band around your arch and gently place pressure against it with your foot. Hold for 10-15 seconds.

ham stretch

Quadriceps 

quads

Being opposite of your hamstrings, while stretching your quads you are naturally flexing your hamstrings makes them stronger! Your quads are responsible for lifting your knees in order to move your body. It is important to keep them strong and flexible for speed!

2.

Standing tall with legs hip width apart. Use something stable to balance if needed. Bend one leg and knee and grab foot behind body. Do lock your standing knee.

Hold 10-15 Seconds.

quad stretch

Piriformis

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If you have never heard this one before, get to know it now because it is common to feel twinges here as a runner! Your piriformis rotates your hips, helping them change direction. Your piriformis will become very tight if not stretched properly, which in turn can cause pain and lower body spasms. You can even irritate your sciatic nerve which can be really uncomfortable! Give it the attention it deserves and you won’t be sorry!

3.

Lie on your back with your body in a straight line. Bring your right knee in and rotate it in mini circles. Slowly extend your right leg across your body to the left side, using your left arm to support it. Hold 10 seconds. Raise your leg up and over to the right side of your body, opening up your hip. Use your right hand to support your leg off the ground. Hold 10 sec. Hug your knee back into body. Slowly release. repeat other side.

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Calves

calves

I bet everyone is aware that your calves can become uncomfortably tight! Even after a long night in heels, they may require some stretching. Stretching your calves after, and sometimes even during, a run is a must. It’s important to keep  your calves flexible and loose to perfect the spring in your step!

4.

Find a wall that you can place your toes onto OR push and  lean into it for a good calf stretch. Take it slow, and repeat one leg at a time.

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Good luck!!

As I said, do these moves at the very least after each run. You should, however, be performing a more in depth stretching session at least once every few runs (if not every time).

Click here for a more lengthy static stretch series!

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Static Stretch Series

 Full Series of Recommended Static Stretches

Performing each and every one of these stretches after your runs with take less than 10 minutes. It is safe to say that this is the most important 10 minutes of your workout! By keeping yourself flexible, you are preventing yourself from future disaster. Be careful when you say you “don’t have time to stretch”. By not stretching, you may very well hurt yourself and be out of the game for quite a while. Then you will have all the time in the world, wishing that you had taken that extra step! Do yourself a favor and take care of your body. You are working your muscles hard and they deserve a little TLC. 🙂

tlcNO…..not that TLC. Allthough, they do look like way more fun! 😉

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This series of stretches is meant to be done in order. If you notice, I take you from a standing position to the floor in order to avoid getting up and down over and over. If you create a nice “flow” with your stretching, it becomes quick and easy.

 1.

 Standing Forward Bend

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Stand with legs hip width apart. Fold in half, aiming to grab back of ankles. 10-15 sec.

Alternating Forward Bend

Stand wide. Bend from hips, walk both hand to one ankle (10-15 sec); shift weight and walk both hands to other ankle (10-15 sec).

2.

Kneeling Quad Stretch

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Starting in a kneeling position, relax your arms to your sides and lean your body back for a deep quad stretch. 10-15 sec.

3.

Low Lunge

low lunge

Starting in a kneeling position, plant one foot forward, keeping your leg at a 90 degree angle (be sure not to extend your knee over your toes!) Place you hands on your leg to to your body away from your thigh for an added hip stretch. 10-15 sec.

4.

Butterfly

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Have a seat with your feet together, elbows resting on knees. Gently bounce to loosen hips and groin. Bring feet 6 inches out and slowly lower your nose toward your toes. Hold 10-15 sec.

5.

Seated Forward Bend

seated bend

In a seated position, extend your legs straight out in front of you with your toes flexed. Fold your body, reach for your toes and exhale. (10-15 sec.) Take a deep breath, sit tall. Point your toes and repeat.

6.

Hip Twister

lower back

In a seated position, bring your foot across your body so that your outside right ankle is next to the outside of your left knee. Place your left elbow in front of your right knee and look back to give your lower back a nice stretch. 10-15 sec.

7.

Glute Pull

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In a seated position with your hand on floor behind your body, bend left knee and plant foot. Cross your leg by resting your right ankle on your left knee. Lift your left toes and lean your body into right foot. 10-15 sec.

8.

Bridge

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Lying on back, plant both feet into the ground. With arms resting parallel to ground, raise and squeeze your glutes for a quad and lower back stretch. 10-15 sec. Repeat.

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In conclusio , there are SO many great stretches our there! Eventually you can try a variety and create your own routine that suits your body the best. You will find it through trial and error…but in the meantime, this is a safe place to start.

Click here for a quicker, more basic stretch series!

 

Stretch (like Armstrong.)

Not Lance. Stretch!

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If you were to Google “runner’s stretches”, chances are you would be reading some very contradicting articles.  You may come across people saying to stretch before runs, after runs, or not even to stretch at all (which is outrageous by the way!).  If you are just starting out, how the heck are you supposed to determine what is right? Don’t let information overload overwhelm you. I will break it down for you with an explanation to why I do what do. Understanding the reasoning behind people’s methods is the first step to deciding what is best for YOU.

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First off, did you know that there are many types of stretching? I would like to go over two very important types with you right now.

Static Stretching

Static stretching is the one most of us are familiar with. This is the type of stretching where you position your body to a point of discomfort and hold it there for 15-30 seconds. By doing this, you are lengthening your muscles for increased flexibility and movement. This type of stretching is done while the body is at rest.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is using momentum and force to stretch your muscles, but not holding yourself in the end position. A good example would be walking lunges. This type of stretching kills two birds with one stone: you are warming up your muscles and getting a stretch at the same time.

Some people gave up on static stretching all together, saying that it is dangerous and can cause you to pull your muscles or damage tendons. I disagree. You can absolutely hurt yourself by static stretching if you are doing it at the improper time (when your muscles are cold), but it is an important part of your workout and should not be left out!

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Now that you have a basis of the different methods of stretching I am talking about here, let me share with you what I have found to be the best and safest way to get a good stretch before AND after your runs (or other cardio activities).

Warm up: Fast pace walk for two minutes just to bring your body to life.

Dynamic Warmup: Perform 3-5  dynamic exercises to really get your muscles loosened up ad HOT in preparation for your run.

Dynamic Cool down: Take a good 5 minutes at the end your run to gradually bring your heat rate down. Throw in 1 or 2 dynamic stretches, such as a few walking lunges, to avoid bringing your muscles to a cold halt.

Post static Stretch: Now is where you was to take the time to give your body a nice, lengthening stretch! Sit down for 10 minutes and combine a series of static stretches. If post running or other vigorous cardio, spend extra time with your quads, hamstrings, calves, and piriformis (hips). This will help with soreness, cramping, and a faster recovery time.

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The meaning of a “RUN”.

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The word “run” can be intimidating to some. Let’s get our facts straight for just a minute here….

When most people say “I’m going for a run”, it usually doesn’t mean that they are flying out their front door and running full speed like they are being chased by a zombie.

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The meaning of a run can be many different things depending on who you’re talking to. A few examples would be:

Taking a light jog outside.

Jogging on flat ground, hills, or a beach.

Treadmill running and walking.

Jogging for a while, and walking in between.

Running with sprints.

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The variations are endless! Most of us use the common phrase “going for a run”, but it can be perceived many different ways. Fast? Slow? Walking breaks? Your run might be my jog. Your jog might be my run. Who’s know’s?

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The best part about taking up running as a hobby: it doesn’t matter what your definition of “going for a run” is! It’s personal.

why run

Running one of the few sports where you can choose to compete with yourself. You assess your OWN personal records, and strive to beat them in your own ways.

Take races for example. People sign up for marathons for all different reasons.

Charity.

Health.

New hobby.

Bucket list.

Short term goals.

Long term goals.

Bragging rights!

When people train for these races(more often than not), they strive to beat THEIR best time; THEIR best run; THEIR longest distance. Not someone else’s! We aren’t usually out there competing with each other, we are trying to better ourselves.

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Running is not only great for the obvious reasons such as cardio, endurance, and health benefits.

It is also great training for the MIND. For example, it takes great motivation to train for a race. You have to be dedicated and disciplined to stay on track with your training plans. Keeping promises to yourself is so important, yet so hard for many of us. Training properly helps people make plans and stick to them. When we do that in one aspect of our lives, we eventually create patterns and use the same mindset for other things in our lives. Learning to take a more organized approach on life can reduce stress….not to mention the  increased endorphins!

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So, take the time to get to know yourself and your personal definition of “running”. Find your starting point, get to know it, and surpass it. You might find that your original motivation for getting into this sport can change over time. There are reasons that people fall in love with running. They are only to be unveiled by trying it for yourself….

And remember…….

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….and most importantly….

running therapy

🙂