I started You Run… But Are You Really Fit? to demonstrate what balanced training looks like. This edition is dedicated to how to do a proper warm-up.
Warm-ups should be done prior to a run of any distance or intensity.
It is important to include dynamic stretching and activation of stabilizer muscles to prepare your body for exercise.
Dynamic stretching- moving through gentle stretches, holding each one for just a few seconds but doing several repetitions of each stretch.
Activation of Stabilizer Muscles- performing controlled movements that use the muscles needed for running with proper form.
Here is a sample warm-up series:
(I’m sorry for the blurry photos, I’m working on better lighting/scenery!)
Remember: While I am an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, I can’t make specific recommendations for your body without meeting with you in person. This post is meant to provide ideas and inspiration for ways to improve your training.
Reverse Lunge with Lateral Reach (5-10 x each side)
Purpose: to lengthen hip flexors (front of hip) and lats (sides of back), which can become very tight, especially if you sit all day
Tips: come into the lunge position first, lengthen your spine, then reach your arm overhead and extend your torso laterally with abs engaged, hold each side for about 5 seconds
Lateral Lunge (5-10 x each side)
Purpose: to lengthen hip adductors (inner thighs), which can pull knees inward if they are too tight
Tips: place feet wider than shoulder width with toes pointed out slightly, sit into a squat position on one leg while the other leg straightens, look out in front of you while you alternate from side to side, hold each side for about 5 seconds
Alternating Downward Dog (5-10 x each side)
Purpose: to lengthen calves (backs of lower legs) and hamstrings (backs of thighs), which can get tight and cause back, knee and heel pain
Tips: heels should press towards the floor, knees should be soft (slightly bent), head should hang between your arms so there is no tension in your neck, bend your right knee and let your left heel extend further towards the floor, alternate sides holding each for about 5 seconds
Activation of Stabilizer Muscles:
Alternating Hip/Back Extension (5 x each side)
Purpose: to activate hips and the muscles that support your spine, which aid in proper running form
Tips: start on hands and knees, extend your right leg until you feel your hip (butt) tighten on the right side, simultaneously extend your left arm so that it is in line with your left ear, make sure your torso stays long and your back does not sway, hold each side for 10 seconds
Slow Mountain Climber (5 x each side)
Purpose: to activate abs and hips, which keep posture upright and lower back protected
Tips: come into plank position (wrists should be directly under shoulders, make sure your back doesn’t sway), slowly bring your right knee towards your chest without changing anything else in the plank position, then switch to the left leg and continue alternating, holding each position for 10 seconds
You can also do these movements as part of your new office exercise routine!
You know that “my brain is fried” feeling at the end of a long and stressful day?
This recent article, details how stress can make your after work workouts less effective.
Researchers note that your brain can become fatigued just as your muscles can… and a fatigued brain will deplete the energy you need to exercise. While reading the article, I realized that if a stressed and fatigued brain is leaving little energy for your post-work exercise session, it will likely have the same affect on the energy you have for your family when you get home.
This is the viscous cycle that is a stressful life- you are stressed throughout the day, then you try to exercise to relieve stress but can’t get in a good workout because of low energy, then you go home even more depleted and unable to be present with your loved ones.
The good news?!
According to the article, it is possible to re-energize your brain before you leave work by taking time out of your day to observe nature. In my post on office exercise breaks, I noted that taking a couple of minutes to go outside several times throughout the day can really improve your energy and sense of well-being.
If you work in a concrete jungle, you can also watch videos of nature scenes… but I recommend getting outside if at all possible. The point is to get away from screens and into a more mindful state of being. After all, sitting in the sunshine or under a small tree still counts as observing nature.
I don’t love cooking, but I do love eating healthy food at home, so I have been on a mission to make faster and easier dinners. One of my favorite super easy weeknight meals is this vegan burrito bowl. It only takes 20 minutes (max) to make!
I start with rice, black beans and pinto beans that can all be heated quickly (these bags of rice are amazing).
Then, I add chopped bell pepper, romaine and avocado.
Today I felt like adding cheese, but I wanted the dish to still be vegan, so I tried non-dairy cheese for the first time (it was… OK).
Lastly, I top the dish with homemade cilantro-lime dressing.
Cilantro-Lime Dressing Recipe:
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
pinch of salt and pepper
pinch of minced garlic
To really complete the meal, I suggest pairing with a season-appropriate beer. This fall I have been loving malty beers that aren’t too heavy or hoppy. This light, slightly sweet Prost Dunkel worked perfectly with the savory and tart flavors in the burrito bowl.
More on my favorite fall beers to come!
Do you have any go-to fast/healthy weeknight meals that you love?