Run Post #2

I had every intention of chronicling my training for the OKC Half Marathon…but we all see how well that worked!  It is what it is, but I wanted to share another running post before the big day.

 

I am in what’s called a taper week…taper down the mileage so that the legs are fresh for the big day.  I still run, just not as far or as often as I have been.  It’s also one of the hardest weeks of training because all I want to do is run or try a new workout from the Beachbody OnDemand catalog.  

 

Over the last several weeks though, I’ve had an epiphany of sorts.  Running is 30% physical, and 70% mental.  Wait…what?  Your body is capable of almost anything;  it’s the mind that actually gets in the way.  Think back to the last activity you struggled with…was your body tired, or did your mind say this is too hard.  Now there does come a point where the body just stops, throws up its metaphorical hands, and is done for the day.   But 9 out of 10 times it’s the mental block that keeps you from going further.

 

It’s an interesting concept to ponder.  If I can train my mind, I can go further for faster and longer.  I should be able to push my body beyond its current limits because, after all, it’s perceived limits at this point.  And I think this is the perfect week to test the theory and boundaries.  I don’t want to over exert myself physically with more mileage or longer duration runs, so maybe I will spend some time training the brain as I run. 

 

I’m not really sure what this is supposed to look like.  How do you train your brain without some kind of tool or app?  Maybe I’m close…I listen to music as I run to distract me from pain or from the mileage as it adds up.  I find at times that a couple tenths of a mile have gone by because I was immersed in a song.  I also wonder if maybe I need to actively not think…or actively try not to think.  If you’ve ever done a “mindless” activity, you know how hard this is.  You’re running mile after mile, and all of sudden that conversation from Monday night at pint night pops in your head.  Where did that come from?!   Then other thoughts follow…what mile am I on?  Is that pain in my left leg?  How long have I been running?  That hill looks awful…lets walk now!  So find an active way to keep those thoughts out of the head…check!

 

We’ll see how this goes.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a sunny day with no rain in the forecast (which means it’ll probably pour) so Monday is a run day.  I think this run, and my last one on Wednesday, will be about getting my mind set for the half.  If I’ve learned anything from the others I’ve done, it will take a lot of mental prowess to complete the race.  Maybe if I can train my brain a little before I even start, this will my best half yet!

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Balancing the Imbalanced

Exercise in itself is supposed to be a growing experience that pushes you to the edge of your comfort zone…that’s where change comes from.  But it can be made infinitely harder when you’re sore before, during, and after a workout.  And if it gets bad enough, it can make you stop working out all together.

I always thought that the reason for this was your body adjusting to your increased activity level and maybe doing too much too fast.  I use the example of running because its application is easy and relatable (at least to me).  If you have never run, and then one day decide to run/walk a mile, chances are you will wake up with sore muscles.  You’re engaging muscles, tendons, and other areas that have otherwise been sedentary.  There are going to be some aches.  Likewise, as you continue your training trend, eventually you will start to notice your legs or your core are not up to par.  You abdominals hurt while your run or your deadweight legs are why you have to stop (not the lack of air).  So you do some cross training to strengthen the muscles and continue training like a boss!

There is also the possibility of doing too much too soon.  In the above example, if you have never run and decide to go outside and run 3 miles, you could seriously hurt yourself.  Anything from shin splints, torn muscles, or foot fractures are a real possibility.  In this case, you gradually build your mileage and save some injuries.

However, I was reading an article on another great blog I read that reasoned a third possibility…muscle imbalance could also be causing those tired, achy muscles (HelloHealthy:  Tight and Achy After Exercise?  Muscle Imbalance Might Be to Blame).  Runners, for example, usually have strong quads and weaker hamstrings.  This is why many develop knee pain.  Others also develop sore calf muscles that cause a change in gait (their running motion).  The HelloHealthy article suggest that by balancing these muscles, running or other exercises become immensely more enjoyable.

The article states there are four different areas of imbalance that could be causing aches and pains…mobility, stability, strength, and power.  Those are the four areas that need to be addressed, and in that order.  Mobility is loosening the muscles to create better movement.  Ever wonder why your knees hurt after a particularly hard workout?  Tight calves may be to blame.  Foam rolling and stretches targeting specific muscles will be your saving grace.  Once you’ve loosened muscles, you can begin to strengthen them again.  And as the article implies, make sure the strengthening is balanced and even; or you’ll just have loose, imbalanced muscles!

There is no need to fear or loathe exercise because of potential achy muscles.  If you find yourself getting achy or unusually tired, take a step back and ask yourself, 1) did you increase your activity, or 2) did you do too much too soon considering your activity levels over the last couple of weeks.  If those aren’t the culprits, consider that you may be imbalanced.

(Please visit HelloHealthy for their take on imbalanced muscles!)

Go Ahead…Play Like a Kid!

In a recent Facebook post, I asked friends to give me some ideas of what they would like to see on this blog.  I got several wonderful ideas, and this topic was one of them…workouts you can do with your kids!  While I don’t have kids myself, I’ve tried to put myself in parental shoes and think of some fun workouts that don’t actually feel like workouts…that’s right, gotta trick them into exercising!  (Haha…you probably don’t have to trick your kids, but just in case…!)

1.  The Dice Game

I saw this idea in a magazine about a year ago and it’s perfectly translatable to a family workout.  You need two dice…get them from a board game or make it fun and get blow up dice or fuzzy mirror dice!  You also need something to write on…paper, marker board…something everyone can see.  Make a list, numbered 2 thru 12 (if using 2 dice) or 1 thru 5 (if using 1 dice, and then assign a different task to each number (below is an example, you can also make up your own)!  Then make it fun…if you have 2 kids, let each one roll 5 times.  With each roll, the number you land on is the exercise on your list you do.  For example, if I rolled a 6, on the list below that would be crunches.  Do them for one minute, then roll the dice again.  So 2 kids and 5 rolls means you’d do 10 minutes worth of exercise.  Feeling rowdy?  Do 10 rolls per kid!   You can also assign a certain number to each exercise too, like 25 crunches, 30 push-ups, etc!

Dice Game

2.  Block-Capades

This is a fun one when the weather is warm.  Start by going on a walk around the block, the neighborhood, a high school track, etc.  Then as you’re going along, pick a spot ahead of you and race your kids there.  BUT WAIT!  Don’t just run…you can run to “warm up,” then get creative.  Race them in skipping, frog jumping, lunging, the moon walk…anything.  Go for 20 minutes and you’ve had a complete workout with cardio and muscle building!

3.  Backyard Obstacle Course

This is another fun one to get outdoors.  Get creative with all the stuff in your backyard and create an obstacle course for the kids.  Use lawn chairs, sidewalk chalk, stairs on the deck or front porch, etc.  You can even use sprinklers or a slip-and-slide in the summer!  Time them to see who can do it faster and do it with them to see if they can beat you!

4.  Random Dancing

I’m going to embarrass myself and say that I saw this on iCarly…a tv show on Nickelodeon.  At various points during an internet show the main characters were filming, a voice would yell random dancing and the characters would bust out in wild and fun dance moves for 1 minute.  This is a fabulous idea to do with your kids!  If they have been inside all day (rain day, video games, etc), turn on the radio, iPod, etc for 1 minute, yell random dancing, and make them get up and dance around!  If everyone is having fun, keep going!  Try doing it several times a night and see how many minutes of dancing you can get in!  I’ve seen a lot of posts on Facebook of parents and their kids just dancing around randomly to the tv or the radio.  It’s fun, it’s a cardio workout, and can also create some fun memories!

5.  Popsicle Stick Workouts

This is one I saw on Pinterest, but it was a really cute idea…especially for younger kids.  You put an exercise on a popsicle stick, and put it in a cup that says exercise (of course you will fill up this cup with several popsicle sticks with different exercises on them).  Use the exercises from the Dice Game or make up your own!   Have a kid pick a stick at random from the cup, and everybody do what is on that stick.  When you’ve finished the exercise, you move it to a done cup.  You can pick a few a day, a few a week, one a day…whatever works!  You can also make a deal with your kids; if you finish the cup in the month they will get a reward! I would generally say stay away from food rewards, but they’re kids…give them ice cream!

Popsicle Cup Workouts

(This picture came from a post on PopSugar that had another list of workouts for kids!)

These are 5 fun games to play with your kids, have fun and make memories!  There are several other options as well…but are less tricky when it comes to actual exercise.

-Run bleachers at a high school track
-Shoot hoops in the driveway
-Hopscotch in the driveway
-Family bike rides
-Trampoline tricks
-Roller skating/blading around the neighborhood
-Swimming
-Walk around the block (take the dogs!)
These are just a few more ideas of things kids and adults can do for exercise as a family.  As always, you can go to Pinterest and find some more ideas or some different ways to do these with your kids.  It’s important for your kids to learn that exercise is fun and beneficial; and with you right there with them, it’ll leave a lasting impression and help build lifelong habits.