EXTRA! EXTRA! Trainer Runs 8 Minutes STRAIGHT!

Wow right?!?

what I look like when I runI laugh as I type this because for many of you the fact that a fitness trainer ran for a solid 8 minutes sounds silly.  However for me, this is a PR (Personal Record  for the cool folks who workout a ton) at this point in my life.  I don’t run.  My husband tells me I can’t really call what I do running, it’s more of a jog…and he’s right (the photo is very accurate).  After 3 kids and 2 knee reconstructions, my running jogging leaves nothing to be desired.

When it comes to my cardiovascular training, I will rollerblade the pants off of most and I am decently in shape for the step mill but running has always been a struggle for me.  I grew up a short distance swimmer and a gymnast which do NOT require endurance.  I think I ran a 5K race once.  So why am I working on a PR for jogging?  Because I was inspired by my 10-year-old son and my cardio workouts needed a kick in the pants.

My oldest is 10 and he is in his 4th year of tackle football.  For the team’s conditioning they need to run 8 minutes at the end of some 2-hour practices in full pads.  My son was at the end of the pack during this run for the first month of practice.  I knew he could do better so I told him that I would start running with him from home to help him (us) train. What?!?, was my first inner thought. Did I really just say that?  Yes, I did.  I figure if he can run in full pads for 8 minutes after a practice, then I can suck it up through 8 minutes of jogging.

What is ironic about this goal is that I had to train for it.  That’s right, my first “jog” interval out of the gate was a whopping 3 1/2 minutes.  At least after a 2 minute walk I saved some face by upping the next interval to 4 minutes.  My next outing was better yet as I went 4 1/2 minutes jogging, 2 minute walk then 5 minutes jogging.  I even topped that workout off with a 1 minute hill sprint after a 3 minute walk. Now we’re talking progress.

It was this Monday when my son was home for the holiday weekend when I asked him to run with me.
“I need your cheering please” I said.
“Do I have to run next to you?” he says. Little booger.logan running

We then geared up with music and one dog each.  We warmed up with skips, leg kicks, high knees and bum kicks (this creaky body needs it).  For most of the 8 minutes my view was my son disappearing in the distance (see photo), but I made it.  I had a brief thought of only going 6 1/2 minutes but then I kept pushing to keep up and I went 8 minutes straight.  Yeah me!  My son gave me a pat on the back and we then worked our way back home with him doing sprint intervals and then waiting for me while I caught up with my jog/walk intervals of 2 minutes.

Part of me thinks this is great, I can keep increasing and maybe even run another 5K someday.  The other part of me thinks I will complete this journey at 15 minutes straight jogging plus some intervals and call it a success.  The great thing about being so inefficient at running is that I burn a TON of calories while doing it!  Ha!  If I trained to the point of being an efficient runner, I would have to run further to expend the same amount of energy you know.  *Just being honest*

As I read this so far, I sound pretty lazy and out of shape.  I’m really not, I still exercise quite regularly.  I occasionally fall of the wagon just like everyone else.  It’s just that I would much rather run stadium stairs or do box jumps or jump rope in intervals than jog.  Heck, I’d rather do sprint intervals than jog.

But now I have a new way to hang out with my son (even if he’s running ahead) and one of my greatest joys is being active with my family so bring it on!

My Favorite Cardio Training

BFL Cardio IntervalsI chose Body for Life Cardio training this morning on the treadmill.  I love this interval style training!  Mostly because it only requires 20 minutes of cardio :), BUT it also helps keep cardio workouts from getting boring.

My first 2 interval groups remained at 3.8 MPH, and I increased the incline from 4.0 to 8.0% to get higher intensity.  The last 2 groups I actually JOGGED from 4.5-6.0 MPH (I know I’m slow so don’t knock it) while keeping the incline at 2%.  Lots of stretching afterwards as I know my running gate is not a technical masterpiece.

BFL recommends this cardio workout 3x/week and I have to say, when I am vigilant about it, I am quite pleased with the results.

My Couch to 5K Journey

I am a Fitness Professional.  I am a former athlete.  I am fit.

These are my mantras as I begin the Couch to 5K running plan.  For those of you who know me, or follow my Facebook page or blog, I am not a runner.  I grew up doing gymnastics and diving, both of which are power sports where the greatest cardiovascular requirement came from the 3 minute floor exercise event (where I felt I nearly died every time).  Usually, if you see me running there is either someone chasing me, a need to rescue my children or a donut at my destination.

So I am turning over a new leaf so to speak.  I chose the Couch to 5K plan in order to have a simple exercise option while traveling for my new injury prevention business because as of today, I have yet to exercise while traveling.  There is also that little side benefit of increasing my cardiovascular fitness as I have a family history of heart problems.

I had seen a few folks talking about the Couch to 5K plan on Facebook but I ultimately made the decision to try it after reading through this info-graphic on Pintrest.   The plan was laid out in a way that I was able to talk myself into the idea that I might be able to do it.  So I was off.

My ego was happy to report that I was fit enough to start on week 2 and I was not starting at the “couch” (as a fitness professional that would be embarrassing).  My knees really liked the walking bits before and after jogging as I have 2 left knee reconstructions under my belt and I’m no spring chicken.

After week 2 of the plan my shins were screaming at me and the 5 minute chunk of jogging had me sucking serious wind.  *This is where all those real runners out there are laughing at me.  Beginning week 3, I found a little Black Eyed Peas got me through the 6 minute jogging chunks and my shins took mercy on me and eased up.  Even better still, I had my cousin in town to distract me through the 7 minute chunk bringing me into week 4 this week.

In the meantime, I try to keep up with a barre class here and there plus a leg strength workout.  If I only ran I would be a complete hypocrite as I firmly believe that running alone is awful for your body (skeletal muscles and joints) unless you add balanced strength training and flexibility work.

So tell me, have you tried this program?  What do you think?

Understanding Your Fascia

Understanding Your Fascia

Fascia may be the missing piece for your lingering injury

By Julia Lucas     As featured in the June 2011 issue of Running Times Magazine

You’ve got this injury you just can’t shake. You take time off. You ice and stretch and do all the right things but you’re still limping home. You spend too much time trying to articulate your particular brand of hurt to those loved ones who still put up with you. You follow referrals to physical therapists and massage therapists and you’d go to an aromatherapist if it’d help you run again, but nothing does. You diagnose yourself on WebMD: You’re a structurally flawed human being for whom recovery is impossible.

DON’T GIVE UP YET
The answer may be right under your fingertips. About 2mm under your fingertips, to be precise. Under your skin, encasing your body and webbing its way through your insides like spider webs, is fascia. Fascia is made up primarily of densely packed collagen fibers that create a full body system of sheets, chords and bags that wrap, divide and permeate every one of your muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs. Every bit of you is encased in it. You’re protected by fascia, connected by fascia and kept in taut human shape by fascia.
Why didn’t anyone mention fascia earlier? Because not many people know that much about it. Fascia’s messy stuff. It’s hard to study. It’s so expansive and intertwined it resists the medical standard of being cut up and named for textbook illustrations. Besides that, its function is tricky, more subtle than that of the other systems. For the majority of medical history it’s been assumed that bones were our frame, muscles the motor, and fascia just packaging.
In fact, the convention in med-school dissections has been to remove as much of the fascia as possible in order to see what was underneath, the important stuff. That framed Illustration hanging in your doctor’s office of the red-muscled, wide-eyed human body is a body with its fascia cut away; it’s not what you look like inside, but it’s a lot neater and easier to study and it’s the way doctors have long been taught to look at you. Until recently, that is.
In 2007 the first international Fascia Research Congress, held at Harvard Medical School, brought about a new demand for attention to the fascial system. Since then fascia has been repeatedly referred to as the “Cinderella Story” of the anatomy world, speaking both to its intrigue and the geekiness of those who study it. While you may not share the medical and bodywork communities’ excitement over mechanotransduction and the contractile properties of myofibroblasts, think of it this way: Fascia is a major player in every movement you make and every injury you’ve ever had, but until five years ago nobody paid it any attention. And now they’re making up for lost time.

FASCIA FUNDAMENTALS
What exactly does it do? It wraps around each of your individual internal parts, keeping them separate and allowing them to slide easily with your movements. It’s strong, slippery and wet. It creates a sheath around each muscle; because it’s stiffer, it resists over-stretching and acts like an anatomical emergency break. It connects your organs to your ribs to your muscles and all your bones to each other. It structures your insides in a feat of engineering, balancing stressors and counter-stressors to create a mobile, flexible and resilient body unit. It generally keeps you from being a big, bone-filled blob.
“Fascia is the missing element in the movement/stability equation,” says Tom Myers, author of the acclaimed book Anatomy Trains. Myers was among the first medical professionals to challenge the field’s ignorance of fascia in the human body. He has long argued for a more holistic treatment, with a focus on the fascia as an unappreciated overseer. “While every anatomy lists around 600 separate muscles, it is more accurate to say that there is one muscle poured into six hundred pockets of the fascial webbing. The ‘illusion’ of separate muscles is created by the anatomist’s scalpel, dividing tissues along the planes of fascia. This reductive process should not blind us to the reality of the unifying whole.”

BUT, THAT’S THE OLD NEWS

What rocked the medical community’s world was this: Fascia isn’t just plastic wrap. Fascia can contract and feel and impact the way you move. It’s our richest sense organ, it possess the ability to contract independently of the muscles it surrounds and it responds to stress without your conscious command. That’s a big deal. It means that fascia is impacting your movements, for better or worse. It means that this stuff massage therapists and physical therapists and orthopedists have right at their fingertips is the missing variable, the one they’ve been looking for.

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOU?

Grab hold of the collar of your shirt and give it a little tug. Your whole shirt responds, right? Your collar pulls into the back of your neck. The tail of your shirt inches up the small of your back. Your sleeves move up your forearms. Then it falls back into place. That’s a bit like fascia. It fits like a giant, body-hugging T-shirt over your whole body, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and crisscrossing back and forth and through and back again. You can’t move just one piece of it, and you can’t make a move without bringing it along. Now, pull the collar of your shirt again, only this time, hold onto it for eight hours. That’s about the time you spend leaning forward over a desk or computer or steering wheel, right? Now, pull it 2,500 times. That’s about how many steps you’d take on a half-hour run. Your shirt probably isn’t looking too good at this point. Fortunately, your fascia is tougher than your shirt is, and it has infinitely more self-healing properties. In its healthy state it’s smooth and supple and slides easily, allowing you to move and stretch to your full length in any direction, always returning back to its normal state. Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that your fascia maintains its optimal flexibility, shape or texture. Lack of activity will cement the once-supple fibers into place. Chronic stress causes the fibers to thicken in an attempt to protect the underlying muscle. Poor posture and lack of flexibility and repetitive movements pull the fascia into ingrained patterns. Adhesions form within the stuck and damaged fibers like snags in a sweater, and once they’ve formed they’re hard to get rid of. And, remember, it’s everywhere. This webbing is so continuous that If your doctor’s office were to add a poster of your true human anatomy, including its fascia, fascia is all you’d see. Thick and white in places like your IT band and plantar fascia, less than 1mm and nearly transparent on your eyelids. And within all that fascia you have adhesions and areas of rigidity. You likely have lots of them. But, this isn’t bad news. Every bit of the damage you’ve caused your fascia is reversible, and every one of the problems it’s caused you were avoidable. You take care of your muscles with stretching and foam rolling and massage. You take care of your bones with diet and restraint. You never knew that you needed to take care of your fascia, but now you do. You may just shake that nagging injury after all.

How to Care for Your Fascia

MOVE IT OR LOSE IT: Sticky adhesions form between fascial surfaces that aren’t regularly moved, and over time these adhesions get strong enough to inhibit range of motion. Take a few minutes first thing in the morning to roll around in bed and really stretch out, head to toe, just like a cat after a nap.

STAY LUBRICATED: Just like every other tissue in your body, your fascia is made of water. It works better, moves better and feels better when it’s wet. So, drink!

STRETCH YOUR MUSCLES: When your muscles are chronically tight the surrounding fascia tightens along with them. Over time the fascia becomes rigid, compressing the muscles and the nerves.

STRETCH YOUR FASCIA: Once your fascia has tightened up, it doesn’t want to let go. Because the fascia can withstand up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, you’re not going to force your way through, so stretch gently. Fascia also works in slower cycles than muscles do, both contracting and stretching more slowly. To stretch the fascia, hold gentle stretches for three to five minutes, relaxing into a hold.

RELAX! If you spend all day tense and tight at a desk, ice baths may not be the best thing for you. Fifteen to 20 minutes in a warm Epsom salt bath can coax tight fascia to loosen up, releasing your muscles from their stranglehold. Make sure to follow it up with 10 minutes of light activity to keep blood from pooling in your muscles.

USE A FOAM ROLLER:  Like stretching, using a foam roller on your fascia is different than on your muscles. Be gentle and slow in your movements, and when you find an area of tension hold sustained pressure for three to five minutes. You may practice self-massage with the same rules.

RESPECT YOUR BODY:  If you’re attempting to run through an injury, or returning from one with a limp, beware: Your fascia will respond to your new mechanics and, eventually, even after your injury is gone, you may maintain that same movement pattern. That’s a recipe for an injury cycle. It’s better to take some extra time than to set yourself up for long-term trouble.

SEE A FASCIAL SPECIALIST:  If you have a nagging injury, or just don’t feel right lately, see if your area has a fascial or myofascial therapy specialist. There are different philosophies and methods, ranging from Rolfing, which is very aggressive, to fascial unwinding, which is very gentle. Some methods are similar to massage, while others concentrate on long assisted stretches. Talk to the therapist to see what you need and want. Some osteopaths, chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists are beginning to embrace fascial therapies, so ask around.

SEE A MOVEMENT EDUCATION THERAPIST:  The Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method are the two best known of this sort of therapy, long embraced by dancers and gymnasts. They use verbal cues, light touch and simple exercises to lessen unconscious destructive movement patterns that may be irritating your fascia.  

Yoga for Runners – part I

**This post contains photos from the amazing book, “The Key Poses of Hatha Yoga” by Ray Long MD FRCSC and can be purchased here.**

In general, a regular yoga practice is very beneficial for runners in order to prevent injuries and maintain their ability to endure years of continual running.  There are also specific yoga poses that work in a corrective manner for runners experiencing chronic pain.  The biggest emphasis for a runners body should be balance, symmetry, and alignment.
For a start, here are 3 yoga poses I recommend for runners:
Muscles shown in BLUE are Synergizing or Activating (Contracting)
Muscles shown in RED are Stretching
Triangle Pose
Triangle pose for runners is more about lengthening the muscles that get tight from regular running.  Extending the muscles on the sides of the torso will help create a more fluid running gate and allow a more natural torso rotation.  The stretch to the front leg hamstring and rear leg calf will provide length and therefore work to lessen lower back tension and/or inflammation in the feet.
 Revolving Lunge Pose
Revolving Lunge pose additionally helps to develop torso flexibility and counters the 2-dimensionality of running with a progressive torso twist.  The front leg gains strength while holding and stabilizing this pose.  The rear leg also gains strength from stabilization along with encouraging an opening of the front of the rear leg hip and pelvis that are often tight on runners from over use.
 Warrior III Pose
Warrior III pose is an excellent strengthener for the muscles that stabilize the hips, knees, and ankles.  This pose works the muscles (high hamstrings and glutes) that help to propel the body over and through the planted foot while running.  This is a difficult pose and should be modified when needed by bringing the arms out to the sides like an airplane.
Creating body awareness through regular yoga practice makes it possible to prevent injuries from sneaking up on you.  If you are aware that you can’t sink into a pose as easily on one side than the other, then you learn that running with that type of imbalance is like driving your car with the wheels out of alignment…eventually, something is going to give. 
If you know you have an imbalance, or are already experiencing chronic pain, give me a call and through a thorough assessment, corrective exercises and/or massage therapy I can help you get to the source of the imbalance and get you back on the road pain-free.