Me? Do Yoga?

Yoga.

Did I breathe that word out loud ?

For years it conjured up in my head visions of people in white gossamer clothing getting in touch with their inner selves and eating tofu.

OK, admittedly, I am a bit more educated on it.

It’s supposed to help with flexibility, strength, better posture, help you with your breathing and over all reduce stress and make you feel more calm. Who wouldn’t be down for that ?

I’m sure there are a lot of other benefits too.

Here’s where it’s been kinda in my face for awhile….. it’s supposed to be really good for runners. I’ve read articles about the benefits of yoga as a recovery or strengthening process.

Alright so I’ll admit why I’ve steered clear…. don’t judge me now….

it’s just so… tame… and quiet….and not…  intensely active like I’m used to….

It’s different than flying down the road on a bike… or running a zillion miles… or knocking the heck out of a punching bag.

I secretly wonder if I could handle such a wide shift of physical activities….. being more….still…. yikes.

Ok but then, as I runner, how can I ignore these promises of incorporating some yoga into all my other activities :

It can make you a better runner, improve form and balance, it can also decrease your susceptibilities to over use injuries. It can also improve mental focus which is so important before and during a race when mental staying power is as important as physical strength.

Now….how can I not look at that a little closer ??  Our local running store offers a runners yoga class once a week… and if I can ever get my schedule to bend that way I might check out.

As much as running can build a strong body, those muscles get tight in all kinds of places. Flexibility and fluid motion is  so important in running. Things that are tight don’t allow for optimal performance.

I found some moves that were targeted at runners and even told you what muscles they opened or loosened. I figured… why not? What runner doesn’t want to be more strong and flexible ? So I’ve tried some.

Hahaha….. oh my gosh. You know that term hurts so good? I immediately found places in my hips that were tight… and let me know it. My back…legs… all kinds of tight spots.

On top of holding the pose… you have to remember to breathe… I realized… I kinda sucked at that part 😛

Then you get in this pose…and your “reps” ( which Is how I’m used to operating)  are more like the amount of breathes you take holding that pose.

This is when I pondered :  where is the woman who ran  marathons who’s whining about this pose and attempting to breathe at the same time ?  Here’s what I know thus far…….. I’m breathing hard from pain, not cardio exertion haha

I decided this could be a butt kicking adventure in a different kind of way. I think I’m definitely going to try and add some into my training with the intent it will benefit my body for running. It always comes back to that for me.

So my readers…. who does yoga? Do you like it? What benefits have you seen ? If you’re a runner, have you seen benefits from it ?

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Off Season

runner

We’re gonna talk sports stuff…..athletic(y) things…. you are forewarned.

I never understood, or totally got the whole “off season” thing. I  mean, I understood my favorite basketball games came to an end, or that football came to this great culmination in February that sometimes left grown men crying and gnashing their teeth and we entered the off season which meant the TV wasn’t blowing up with the current games.

After a season was over the athletes were off to Disneyland, right ? Easy, breezy do nothing for months? Not so fast….

Even when I got into running a few years ago, I heard about it, but never grasped it… or honestly thought much of it.

I mean… I run all year long… rain… sun…heat…cold…snow… (well maybe not snow …what’s snow ?? 😉

Enter this past year… and my running….. which has been the most intense since I started. I’ve crashed as ungracefully into off season as a fawn standing on new legs.

The term is defined by Webster’s in this way: a time of suspended or reduced activity; especially :  the time during which an athlete is not training or competing.

So, my training started last August with my goal for a December marathon. You may have read in an earlier post that I turned 50 last year and decided to run a 50K sometime in my 50th year… to celebrate…… haha and I found one this past March.

I slammed out the marathon in December, took it easy through that month, and had to commit fully by January that I was going to do the 50K.

My thinking was my training was already up there, might as well keep on towards the 50K.  Training ramped back up this time with Saturdays long runs getting longer, and ultimately one Saturday just a flat 5 hour run which put about 28 miles under me.

Then came March…. the culmination time for all my training…. two half marathons and a 50k to wrap the month and put the icing on the cake.

My mileage came slamming down like your speed when you see a cop.

I moved through April really letting my body just relax and focusing on other activities I enjoyed. And then this pesky heel issue that came up seemingly outta nowhere really helped me keep my mileage down to….nothing….

I did 3 miles Tuesday and 4 today… trying to keep it easy….it just felt so good to be back out there.

This is when I got it. For the first time in the 5 years I’ve been running I’ve really understood what it means to go into an off season.

My spring races are done.

I might do some shorter 5-10k during the summer but my next “real” race will be a December marathon.

Training will kick up for serious in August.

I love training.

I love planning out my runs and having them written on my running calendar. Perhaps I just love the absolute structure of it and the feeling I get writing those miles in after I do them. Not to mention, in a weird way, the feeling my body has after it’s worked really hard….

I won’t lie that it gets to be a high when I start putting some big volume miles in… which might explain the withdraw feelings I’ve had from it. I also love the lean hungry look I get from all those miles 😛

I know this time down is essential and necessary for my body to get stronger and stay healthy. It doesn’t mean I won’t be running it just means seriously reduced mileage. I do want to keep a good base long run of 12-13 miles so my mind stays in that zone. I feel that (for me ) it’s so mentally important to keep engaged with those numbers.

Here’s what I do know. Off season  doesn’t mean no training. It just means training differently, smarter, with a focus to build and strengthen my body to take on the rigors of fall training again.

I’ll be spending more time on my bike, lifting weights, boxing, doing body weight work and if I can apprehend one somewhere cheap, a rowing machine ( doesn’t that sound fun ?? 😉 oh yeah, and of course a few running days thrown in.

I will learn to embrace off season in a positive way and look for new ways to add to my training… which actually in the long run…. builds a overall better, stronger and more fit body.

Ok, my fearless 1.5 readers, anyone besides me have to come to terms with this idea ? Let me hear from you and how you handle it =) Do you have an off season ? Or do you just move through the year with your workouts ?

running gift
And a most precious one…..

Building A Better Running Body

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My little kettlebell friend 😉

Hey boys and girls…. off to another day….  my thought on waking this morning… “there are parts of me that are tight and ache that I’m not used to” haha

Enter… doing new exercises or hitting others harder than you have recently. I actually, in a twisted way, kinda like that feeling. I know I’ve worked m body in a different way and that’s a good thing.  We do adjust to the same/similar work over time and  have to step outside our comfort zone, whether it’s adding something new, increasing our weights or our reps, or running a little farther.

As a runner I do try and find exercises that will build and strengthen me for running…. is there a more glorious form of exercise ? 😉 I have found that my strong upper body really does come into play when I’m in those last hard miles of a long run and my legs might be asking “are we there yet?”

I’ve also read a lot on how runners can rely more on their legs than the strong powerful glute muscles to drive their run and how those muscles, even though the largest on the body, can be weak or neglected leading to potential injury. I’ve been focused on doing some specific work in that area for awhile now.

Yesterday’s workout was one I enjoy ’cause for me it’s constant movement and variety. I do some boxing for like…3 songs (that will get you breathing hard) and it’s great upper body/core work. I move into doing some weights, back to some boxing, then core work on the floor, weights, and maybe end with the final song hammering on the bag. ( seriously, if you ever need to release stress, anger, frustration…. get a punching bag 😉 anyway, put all that together, it’s a good workout that I feel the next day. I like that.

So some moves I’m doing lately I think are helpful ( and hey if you’re into that aesthetic thing, they don’t hurt for that either 😉

Squats. I do those suckers wherever I can. I can knock off like… 50 brushing my teeth. Do that twice a day… that’s outside of my workouts… bonus… I use  a 35lb kettlebell to do my squats with in my workouts. Yeah, you’ll feel that after awhile.

Deadlifts. Again, if I’m moving through a quick workout, that kettlebell really comes in handy.

 Glute Bridges. I think one of the single best moves for runners. Do single leg also… that’s where you find out pretty quick that you’re a total badass   wimp. Single leg really isolates the muscles on one side and you have to intentionally focus (embrace the discomfort…. I try not to make squealing noises at the end of a set haha)

Lunges. Those are always a good standby and can be modified for your needs.

My newest favorite though, has taken me a little practice working on the form, is the single leg deadlift. Oh I’ve got it now… I’ve even got it using my 35lb kettlebell through the move. The movements are slow, controlled and focused….. and yeah…. you should feel it. I love that this exercise isolates and focuses on one side without making you over-compensate. It’s best done barefoot so you can really plant your foot solidly on the floor. This move will also bring out every balance skill you have….. perfect for an old person like me to keep that sharp 😉

Even if you don’t run, these are great lower body strength moves that benefit anyone. Incorporating a variety of exercises and athletic movements into your routine will make you stronger for your overall daily living =)

Do you have any favorite “go to” strength exercises ?

Yeah I’m a Runner With Muscles

I have a friend who always tells me….

“I’m glad you don’t look like a runner”  the first time that surprised me ’cause I’ve had perfect strangers assume I am.

What she meant was that I don’t fit the typical profile… if there is such a thing as one… (see my Runners World page on that topic)

Well, first of all, blowing me out of the running for any “normal runner” profile is the fact I’m 6’0 tall. I’m definitely an easy target and I’m often paced off of… or targeted to overtake ha

Yes, my legs are long and my stride is one to some of my much smaller counter parts two strides, I’ve had to deal with the fact I’ve got a lot more…. body… to move along and my pace might not ever be that of my smaller, whippet thin running companions.  I’m just stupid happy to be in the club…..

Besides, those obvious things, I pack a decent amount of muscle and that is what my friend means. She likes that I have muscles….  more than the average person/runner …..I kinda like it too 😉

As mentioned in another post, a few years ago, I started doing strength training on days I couldn’t run because of really bad weather ( I hated the treadmill and found it to be sooo boring) so I started doing my own “routine” I’d do some boxing and some weights. Nothing crazy, but enough to give me a decent workout.  I’d do it a couple times a week.

Well, it kinda stuck.

Over time I tried to actively incorporate that into what I do. In the beginning I was a kinda ….uninformed.. runner. I am pretty much self taught, read voraciously, and do a trial and error thing.. if it works for me I keep it… if it doesn’t I toss it out. I shamelessly talk to people who are more experienced and knowledgeable. It’s how I’ve learned.

So imagine my total delight, when I started seeing articles and suggestions that runners needed to do more than “just” run. That strength training/cross training was beneficial on so many levels. I was ahead of the game!

Injury prevention/protection

Overall body strength for those last, long hard miles.

Not to mention, it’s good to work all muscles in your body not just running muscles.

I think my body responds well to some weight training, I don’t go all crazy with it. And genetically, I might have something going on that helps.  But I do know I am more aware than ever of how all my body works together running and how I am aware of the strength coming from other areas and not just my legs/glutes.

Of course, being strong and having muscles helps greatly in my daily active life too =) and let’s not forget… summer and tank season 😛

Dec 2014
Dec 2014…..front view……..
Dec 2014
Dec 2014… and the back… I was surprised… I hadn’t really looked at them in awhile 😛                                                    

So what do I do ?

It’s all stuff I have at home. I have weights of all sizes which I use for upper body ( I really do prefer them over machines as I feel like it’s a little harder and makes me invest more of myself) I spend some time on that as well as core/ab stuff too. Squats of all kinds are my newest fav move….weighted and not weighted. I also use a jump rope and love explosive move exercises like jump squats….. which are not recommended to do a high volume of and then go wear heels 😛

and yeah, I end with a plank. I’m up to 3 minutes which makes me feel super bad ass crazy sweaty and breathing harder than an old horse out to pasture when I finish.

The most recent thing I’ve picked up working on is a single leg deadlift.

BOOM. There’s a move that singlehandedly kills your ass haha.

Seriously, it totally isolates one hip/glute area, develops balance (yikes) I do think I need a lighter kettlebell than my 35lb one to do this move with. I’ll keep you posted on my progress with this. It’s one of the harder things I’ve tried.

Basically, if I have only 30 minutes I cram it with constant movement…. if I have more time… I put more in. I prefer 45- to an hour if I can.

Ah……… all for the progress of becoming a better, stronger runner 😉

If you run do you strength train?  Cross train? Tell me what you’re up to incase I wanna try that too 😉