Posted on December 21st, 2011 No comments
Flexing your calf muscles looks nice, but tight calves can cause a lot of problems for runners.
Injuries such as Planter Fasciitis, Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (shin splints), Achilles Tendonitis, Morton’s Neuroma, and Iliotibial Band Syndrome are all linked to tight calves.
Much like other areas of your body, there are a lot of stretches that can be used to loosen up your calves. Don’t be afraid to try a few different stretches to find out what works best for you and what fits into your routine.
Last week at our Couch to 5K group workout I added a second calf stretch to our post workout routine.
Push Up Calf Stretch
- Get into a push-up position
- Put one foot on top of the other and put pressure on the bottom foot
- You will feel the stretch in the back of your lower leg
- Hold the stretch for about 20 ~ 30 seconds then switch to the other foot
As always, there should never be any bouncing while you stretch.
It might not be as cute as a calf stretching, but adding this stretch to your routine may help reduce the chances of a running injury.
Posted on December 16th, 2011 No commentsThis is the third in our series of Dynamic Warm-Ups. We’ve been teaching just a few each week at our Couch to 5K program. Part 1 - Dynamic Warm Ups. Part 2 - Zombie Warm Ups.
So far in our routine we’ve awakened and activated the hip flexor, warmed up the quadriceps by putting them through a full range of motion, activated the small stabilizing muscles in the legs, and warmed up the hamstring and glutes. Backwards running and backpedaling bring power movements in to play while also getting the feet moving.
- Push with front leg
- Reach with rear leg
- Exagerate the arm motion and really throw them in front of you
The backwards run fully activates the hamstring and calf muscles with the hard push off to propel your body to the rear.
This is the same motion that a pass defender uses in football as he moves backwards from the line of scrimmage.
- Feet under hips
- Hips under shoulders
- Quick push off to the rear
Fully activates quadriceps.
By the time you get done with the eight exercises we’ve introduced so far, your heart rate should be elevated and except on the coldest days, you’ll probably be sweating a bit.
Posted on December 12th, 2011 No comments
One of the places you may feel tightness and a loss of flexibility after you run is in your glutes. This may lead to back pain and stiffness, especially when you get up from your office chair or first thing in the morning as you get out of bed.
There are a lot of benefits to stretching each day and having an after run stretching routine.
- Increased mobility
- Reduced stiffness
- Reduced injuries
Sitting Glute Stretch
Sit on the ground with both legs stretched out. Cross your left leg over your right leg while raising your left knee to your chest. Gently pull your knee closer to your chest. You will feel the stretch in your glutes at this point. You can also slightly rotate your upper body (while holding your knee) to the right for a deeper stretch. Hold for 15-20 seconds and switch legs.
As always, there should never be any bouncing while you stretch.
Add this to your routine and tell stiffness and injuries to kiss your gluteus maximus (and medius)!
Posted on December 11th, 2011 2 comments
Last week was our first in a series of Dynamic Warm Ups for our Couch to 5K athletes. I call the next two exercises our Zombie warm up because both exercises are done with straight legs. (Why don’t zombies bend their legs?)
- Keep the legs straight and hands out front
- Snap the leg quickly forward, driving the foot towards the hands
Keep in mind that the goal is to feel the stretch in the hamstring, not to touch your hands. Your hands are simply a target. If you bend your leg in order to touch your hands, you won’t feel the stretch. Move forward for 10 yards.
Straight Leg Deadlift Walk
- Balance on one leg and keep it straight
- Lift the other leg to the rear. As the leg goes back, the torso tilts forward
- Straight line from ear to shoulder to hip to knee to ankle.
- Keep the shoulders and hips parallel to the ground
- Swing the rear leg forward and take a step and balance again
- Do five lifts on each leg
You should feel a stretch in the glutes and hamstring of the leg on which you are balanced.
Next week: Lateral Moves
Posted on December 5th, 2011 1 comment
Every time I go to a race I see people doing static stretches right before the start. Most of them are bending over and bouncing up and down as they try to stretch out the morning tightness they feel. Although many of us were taught in gym class that this was the right thing to do, its not the best way or time to stretch.
Coach Greg did a great job of showing our Coach to 5K group how to warm up muscles with Dynamic warm ups last week. The important thing is to warm up muscles with movement and to stretch warmed up muscles for flexibility.
Flexibility is key to limiting injuries. The more flexible you are the less tight you are, the less tight you are the less likely you are to have an injury.
After a nice warm up or after a run its a perfect time to work on flexibility. I showed our group these basic stretches to get them into the habit of stretching after each workout:
- Standing Hamstring Stretch: Bend forward keeping the head up and reach toward your toes. Straighten the legs and hold this position for 10-15 seconds (no bouncing)
- Standing Hamstring Stretch (crossed legs): This is just a modified standing hamstring stretch with crossed legs. Alternate each leg 10-15 seconds (no bouncing). You may not be able to reach your toes, but ultimately this is your goal.
- Standing Hip and Lower Back Stretch: Spread your legs shoulder width apart. Gently, reach down to the middle. This is a relaxed position and your weight should do the stretching for you (10-15 seconds). Move to the right (hold); then back to the middle; then to the left (hold); and back to the middle. Gently go back up (no bouncing).
- Standing Calf Stretch: One of the most important muscles to keep flexible (in regards to injury prevention) is the calf muscle. There are several variations of this stretch. Extend one leg in front of the other. Bend your front leg while keeping the back leg straight. Place your hands on your front bent leg and lower your body until you feel the stretch in your back calf muscle (10-15 seconds – no bouncing).
Posted on December 2nd, 2011 4 comments
The old school way of warming up for running was static stretching. If you’re even older than old school, you may have done some bouncing movements to stretch those muscles. Turns out that’s not the best way to warm up as static stretching may rob you of power and speed. Stretching will keep you flexible and enhance your range of motion, both of which are beneficial to the runner but it should be done after a work out when muscles are warm and ready to be stretched.
Last night at our Couch to 5K program we took our runners through four simple exercises that are the first in a series of 13 exercises designed to get you warmed and ready to run with speed and power. This is not the complete set of exercises but they are great for a beginning runner. Do each exercise for about 10 yards.
High Knee Walk
- Extend the stepping leg until the thigh is parallel to the ground
- Rise up on the toes
Wakes up the opposite hip flexor
High Knee Skip
- Rhythmic action
- Not for height or distance
- Thigh parallel to the ground
Puts hip flexors in action
- Get upright - head up
- High # of foot strikes
Fully activates hip flexor
- Heels to butt
- Start slow and build speed
- Warms up hamstring and takes quadricep through full range of motion
Next week - Zombie Warm-up
Posted on November 29th, 2011 No comments
Here’s a bit of information for runners who are starting our Couch to 5K program. It is not too late to sign up.
Should I eat before we meet on Thursdays?
Absolutely. What you eat depends on you and your habits. If you ate a reasonable lunch at noon, you should probably consume a light snack of 150-250 calories sometime between 3 and 4 o’clock.
I heard that it’s supposed to rain on Thursday. Are we still meeting?
Ok, but we won’t be running outside will we?
Yes, we will still run outside. The only time I don’t go outside is when there are thunderstorms over my head and lightning is striking the trees I can touch.
It’s supposed to be cold on Thursday. Are we still running outside?
Yes. Dress in layers.
How should I dress?
Running is the easiest sport to get in to because the equipment barrier is pretty low. Shorts, shirts, shoes. Wear what you feel comfortable running in. A rule of thumb is to dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer.
What about shoes?
This is Charleston, not the country. We generally wear them in public.
No, what about running shoes?
You want running shoes, even if you’re walking. And if you can’t remember when you bought your shoes, then you’ll probably want to buy new ones. I highly recommend visiting a specialty running or triathlon store that is staffed by runners who are trained to fit runners.
I’ve heard that you need to drink a lot before running. How much should I drink?
If you’re just getting started - don’t make changes to your diet or fluid intake yet. You may want to bring a water bottle with you to drink after we run. Dehydration is always an issue, even in the winter.
Will you tell me what to do?
Yes- telling other people what to do is one of my favorite pastimes. Plus, I own a whistle and a stopwatch and I’m not afraid to use them. We’ll also handout training schedules that will tell you how far, how fast, and how much time to spend running in between meetings.
Posted on November 23rd, 2011 No comments
One more day till Turkey Day!
I had always been so torn around this time of year. I was happy to get a chance to spend time with friends and family, but the temptations of snacking all day and overeating were almost overwhelming…
Did you know, according to the Caloric Control Council, that the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving alone? This is over twice the calories needed for an average person. Most of this is from what I fear the most, snacking.
Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with taking some time to enjoy foods that you normally avoid. In fact, I was encouraged to do this when I first started to work on my eating habits (kind of like taking a one hour vacation from the food diary).
One thing you can do to offset the Thanksgiving Day eat fest is to start the day with a run, walk or workout. A ton of people will be doing some type of Turkey Day Run in the morning. This is an awesome way to start your day off on the right track.
Running has helped me keep my weight in check and made holidays a lot less stressful for me and my family. I started with walking and then worked my way up to short runs and eventually to the point where I am currently.
Have you been thinking about making a New Year’s resolution to start exercising? Why wait? Starting your resolution before the New Year is the best way to keep it after the New Year!
The Couch to 5K Program is a great way to get started. We are starting a new C25K group on December 1. The group will meet at Colonial Lake in downtown Charleston at 6 pm on Thursday nights.
If you’re already a runner, this is definitely not the program for you. But you may know people who see what you have accomplished and want to get started on a fitness program. This program is perfect for them. It’s program that begins with walking and running for short periods of time.
Don’t wait to make the commitment after Thanksgiving, make it today.
Sign up at Couch to 5K
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Posted on November 14th, 2011 No comments
Charleston Runs is offering a Couch to 5K program beginning Thursday, December 1 at 6 pm. The class meets every Thursday evening in downtown Charleston until January 26. This truly is for the beginner and those who would like to get back into shape after laying off from running. The training will culminate in your participation in the Charlie Post Classic 5K, being contested on Sullivan’s Island on Saturday, January 28.
Our goal is to gradually improve your fitness level so that you can finish the 5K (3.1 mile) race. This is a run/walk program which has been proven effective.The only requirement for success is a commitment to stick with the training program.
For more information and to register, please visit our Couch to 5K page.
Posted on November 8th, 2011 No comments
I am pleased to announce that Noah Moore will be joining me in offering training for the mile to the marathon.
I have had the pleasure of coaching Noah for the past three years, beginning by offering a few words of advice and encouragement as he approached his first marathon.
Unlike many runners, he has never defined himself as a runner. Instead, he defines himself as husband first, father second, and everything else comes after those two things. He has set a great example as both his son and his wife have become runners as well.
Noah decided to get into coaching because of his desire to work with others as a way to share his love of running. He also wanted to help his son who is part of the Mount Pleasant Track Club. In coming months, we will introduce you to some running activities and programs you can do with your children as well.
Noah has personal experience with having a life style in which he was sedentary to one where he finds adventures everyday. In 2007, Noah weighed 268 pounds. With a change in his eating habits and a move to an active life style he lost over 100 pounds and as maintained that weight loss for over four years. During those years he improved his time at the Cooper River Bridge 10k from one hour and seventeen minutes to forty eight minutes and 2 seconds.
He is certified by the Road Runner’s Club of America and will soon be a Level 1 Certified Coach with USA Track and Field. Noah has completed six marathons and two Ultras (he placed second overall in his first 50K this summer).