I've been serious about running for roughly two years now. First, I started running to just get back in shape. Then, to see how far I could run. I started to challenge myself with races and my first Half. I wasn't too concerned with my pace time at this point in my running. Then, dom dom dom, Ross became my running partner and has challenged me on every run we have completed. He's a speedster (yea, I said speedster). It was all fun in games until I opened my big mouth and said "I can run faster than you." As he slowly drifts away from me on some runs, I just keep running and think "damn, I wish I could run that fast." I envy his speed and running style, which has in return, helped my overall speed and time. However, I still don't compare to him. I wanna go faster! The key to increasing speed isn't to just run faster. It's strength. Running is a full body workout while dragging your weight along for the ride. Having just strong legs doesn't help increase time. You need a strong core. Working the muscles in your abdominal region ,back, and glutes will help increase speed while contributing to good balance. Your core supports the rest of your body. A strong core aids in making the rest of your body stronger, corrects breathing, delays fatigue, and gives you phenomenal balance. A few exercises to help build your core and outline your six-pack:
- Planks- When in a plank position you have to remember that your body is one unit. From your neck down to your back should all be aligned with one another. Start out holding the plank for as long as you can progressing the time for the following sets. Then progress into holding the plank while lifting one leg or arm off the ground out in front of your body.
- Planks with a Stability Ball- These would be a progression up from regular planks. You still want to keep your back as straight as you can while your arms are on the stability ball. Once you have your form, you can roll out the ball and back in during the set, or write out the alphabet while in plank position moving the stability ball with your arms.
- Lunges- Everyone loves to hates lunges! This is a great full body exercise that you can tweak in so many directions. Start out doing regular lunges, then reverse lunges, try walking lunges, add weight with your walking lunges, progress into step ups to reverse lunges with or without wights. Just lunge!
- Squats- When squatting try to picture a chair behind you. Squat down as if you are going to sit in the chair. Too easy? Add weight. Once you start to feel like a couch potato, try jumping squats.
- One Legged Squats- You still squat like normal, but only standing on one leg. Your balance will be truly tested. Remember adding weight always makes the exercise tougher. Try to keep challenging yourself once something seems "too easy".
When doing core exercises remember to squeeze your glutes and keep proper form. If you feel you have broken your form, stop, regain your composer, and finish the set with correct form.
Exercise of the Week: Interval training! It's only appropriate since speed is the topic of the week. Interval training has been shown to be very beneficial to athletes. You can play and tweak the intervals however you please. Examples: You can run for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds. Run for 45 seconds, rest for 20 seconds. Run for 60 Seconds, rest for 30 seconds. Or you can do intervals for distance: Run for 1.5 mile, rest for 1.3 mile. Run for 1 mile, rest for 0.5 mile. And, of course, you can do intervals by time and total distance. The point is, as long as your pace is faster than your "race pace" then you will benefit from interval training. Interval training is as tough as you make it to be. Start out slow, get use to it, then go hardcore. This is a good alternative for cross training, or even doing on a rest day. The total distance of the intervals won't be the same distance as a "normal" run day. It's the speed and pace you are concentrating on increasing.
Training Tip of the Week: I've learned at my internship that most runners don't stretch their legs above 90 degrees. Whammy, I've been called out already in my first few weeks. So, while running your legs don't break 90 degrees, unless you are high steppin', but who high steps for 10 miles or so? I mean, that does seem kind of fun? Anyway, after a run most runners walk it out for a few minutes and then home they go. No proper stretching or cool down. Yikes, I've always been guilty. A good habit to get into, and to stretch your legs above 90 degrees to help stretch out the hip flexor muscles that are constantly used while running. This will help decrease hip and joint pain. To do this, lay on your side, bring the leg closest to the ceiling up and over your bottom leg. Your knee on your top leg should be flexed and almost touching your elbows ensuring it is above 90 degrees. Now, keeping your top leg in position grab the foot of your bottom leg and pull towards you. Hold and stretch out any soreness/ toughness. Then do the other leg.
Training Songs of the Week: I've been in very upbeat, head rockin', fist pumpin' (well, not really) type of music mood the past couple of weeks. Enjoy!
1. Shut It Down- Pitbull ft. Akon
2. Party People- Nelly ft. Fergie
3. Jump- Flo-Rida ft. Nelly Furtado
4. She's Fine- DJ Khaled ft. Sean Paul, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes
5. Hold My Hand- Sean Paul ft. Kerri Hilson
Random Rant: Thank you Runner's World Magazine for validating my coffee addiction even more! Oatmeal and Coffee have been shown to be the perfect match for a speedy recovery. The combination of carbs and caffeine boosts glycogen (fuel for the brain and muscles) stores more than just eating either of the two alone. It was then added that toping your oatmeal with a banana, nuts, or milk is a plus. It's like they know me! Ah, brush my shoulders off and pop my collar ;)
Countdown to the Atlanta ING Marathon:
56 Days (March 21, 2010).