Saturday, February 5, 2011

It's Almost "Mardi Gras Mambo" Running Time!

The Mardi Gras Half Marathon is approaching quickly, very quickly. It's only a week away! It's officially tapering time. I normally don't taper very much for a race mostly because I play mind games with myself and think that i'll lose all my training if I back off. Well, not this time. The more you run and do races, the more you figure things out... the hard way. Although I feel guilty for being mostly sedentary for the past week (and this upcoming week), I know deep down that my body needs the rest. Don't get my wrong, I'm till running... but not nearly as much as a "normal" week for me. I won't lie, I've enjoyed backing off and relaxing. I'm back at the point where I have the itch to get out and run! I'll get a few more short runs in and one more long run tomorrow. The whole process of tapering is different for everyone. I am a heavy believer that it depends on how hard you've trained, how long you've trained, and simply how your body feels. If it's the week before the race and you still feel fresh, then keep on running.... just back off the long runs. However, I have one rule of thumb for everyone... don't run the day before the race. I believe that is the best day for your legs and feet to relax and reserve as much energy as you possibly can. No need to risk an injury the day before the race. So to everyone, Happy Tapering and Happy Carb Overload the night before :-)!

Training Exercise: Since it's tapering week it's time to stretch! Stretching is important in general to help with flexibility, blood flow, and decrease cramping. This is the best time to stretch out those muscles before the race if you normally don't stretch... which everyone should EVERYDAY. One major downfall of being a distance runner is that the leg never gets over 90 degrees while running (never goes above the hip joint). The legs are stuck in a limited range of motion, causing tightness around the low back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings... this contributes to a "gingerly walking runner". If you stretch that muscle each day, before and/or after, running/working out it will help alleviate any tightness around the core area. Here are a few stretches you should do not just during tapering, but everyday:

90 Degree Hip Stretch:
  • Lay on the floor on your back.
  • Turn to your side crossing one leg over the other.
  • The leg that is on top, bring that knee above your hip and hold it.
  • You should feel a pull around your hips, glutes, low back, and hamstrings.
  • Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds. Release. Hold again.
  • Roll to the other side and repeat.

Hamstring (Pretzel) Stretch:
  • Lay on the floor on your back.
  • Cross on leg over the other with your knee at 90 degrees (how a man would cross his legs while sitting).
  • Make sure your hips are off the ground slightly.
  • Now pull the leg that is not crossed towards you by pull the back of the leg towards you.
  • You should feel a pull around your hips, glutes, low back, and hamstrings.
  • Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds. Release. Hold again.
  • Cross over the other leg and repeat.

Standing Hip/Glute Stretch:
  • Find a wall to hold on to for support.
  • Cross on leg over the other (like how a man would cross his legs while sitting).
  • Lean into the hip that is crossed over while holding on to the wall.
  • You will a pull around the hip that you are leaning into.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds. Release. Hold again.
  • Turn around and cross over the other leg and repeat.
*Remember these are just a few stretching exercises. There are a million more! Keep those muscles loose and enjoy!

Training Tip: Good Posture. Most people have poor posture. They do not sit up straight and they lean forward most of the time. Catch yourself in the act and correct it. Your challenge is to correct your posture when sitting, standing, and lying down. You want your back to be straight while standing sitting, or lying. A straight back will take the pressure off the spinal cord and aid in keeping the muscles from spasming. Keep your head up and not leaning forward. Shoulders should be rotated back and not rolled forward. Think about "opening" up your chest and your shoulders will stay back. It sounds easy, but a lot of people have trouble with good posture. It's a simple task that will help keep your body in good health!

Training Songs: I need to start making my playlist for the race. It's on my to-do-list for this week. I haven't downloaded any new songs this week. So here is a little sample of my list for the race... I'll keep you updated during the week with, maybe, a complete list... or just a sampler! Enjoy! :-)

1. Mardi Gras Mambo- Funky Meters
2. Boyfriend- Best Coast
3. XXO- M.I.A.
4. Footloose- Kenny Loggins (This was my pick me up at mile 7 the first time I ran the Mardi Gras Half)
5. Don't Drink The Water- DMB

Training Lagniappe: Since it's the kick off of Carnival Time I have been itching to make my own King's Cake and some homemade Gumbo from scratch. So, this weekend I am going to attempt to make two of my favorite Cajun cuisines. Since I have now told the world my plan, I have to do it! Pictures soon to come!

Happy Running,
Jayme Bergeron, BS
ACSM Health Fitness Specialist

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