Tag Archives: fitness

Running 101: Wearing Headphones

Everyone loves a good song.  It gets you pumped up for your workout and can keep you going when it gets tough.  Unfortunately most training runs don’t feature bands or DJs along the course.  That leaves it up to us runners to provide our own tunes and that’s most often by listening via headphones.  While rocking out during a workout can have benefits there are also potential drawbacks.  Here are a few of the pros and cons Team ECRP faces when making the choice to run with or without headphones.headphones

Pros:
Relaxation – Music is a great tool for helping runners stay relaxed while working out.  If you’re singing along you’re not getting tense and that’s a good thing.  Especially during a tough workout a little distraction, as long as you can keep pushing, goes a long way to making it more bearable.

Cadence – One of the keys to good form and fast finish times is a high step rate or cadence.  Using headphones so you can listen to a song with the right beat or a metronome can be a big help.  The key is to use those headphones as a tool to help you improve and not become dependent on them for success.

Cons:
Safety – The way a song can help you relax or stay on the beat also means it’s a distraction.  From the trail below you to emergency vehicle sirens it’s important to be extra aware of your surroundings when you have something in your ear.  Try only putting in one side or keeping the volume very low.  You’ll be able to hear what’s going on around you as well as your favorite tune.  That’s a win for everyone.

Dependence – Counting on something with a battery life can be risky.  If you’re unable to power through a rough session without your music, what happens on race day?  You’re usually not eligible for awards if you race in headphones anyway.  Get used to ditching them every now and then to prepare for when something doesn’t go your way.

Coach Meredith

3 Reasons to Plank Every Day

It sounds boring.  Perform a plank every single day.  There’s good reason to, however, especially for runners.  With endless options for the type of plank you choose to do there’s bound to be a few you can pick from.  No matter which ones you end up practicing you’ll get these three benefits and become a stronger runner.

Strength.  Planks increase core strength and stability while activating lots of other supporting muscles as well.  Regular plank works your entire frontal plane, from your chest to your quads.  Reverse it to hit shoulders and glutes along with those all important core muscles.  You can even add other movements to your planking.  Try a renegade row or windshield wiper for a planktougher challenge that will build strength through your whole running body.

Balance.  Performing unilateral varieties like side planks will help eliminate muscle imbalances  that can, eventually, lead to injury.  Less risk of injury is a big benefit of all strength training but especially of one side at a time work.  We all have a tendency to favor one side that becomes more and more dominant as we ignore it.  Making both sides pitch in leads to more power and more even impact during activity.

Better running.  With the strength and balance you’re building by tackling that plank each day your running form will improve.  You’ll have better posture with an upper body and core that can support faster running for a longer period of time.  Proper positioning also stretches the muscles of your foot, an area that often gets overlooked.  Fully functioning feet are an important part of quality running and planks can help.  Add those benefits together and it all means better race finishes.

Tip:  Create a set of flash cards each featuring a different variety with the type on one side and your times or reps on the other to record progress.

Coach Meredith

5 Ways to Stay Fit When You Travel

Spring break, summer vacation, holiday visits to family, all mean time on the road, in airports and away from home.  It can be very easy to get away from your home based training plan while you travel and that might spell trouble for your next goal.  Luckily, there are five simple things you can do to stay on track no matter where you are.travel

Keep a food journal.  Remember the 80-20 rule and find healthy choices while you travel.  There’s nothing wrong with an indulgence now and then, we’re only human after all, but remember that too much can set your training back.  Keeping a diary of what you’re eating can help you realize if you’ve gone too far off track.

Pack for activity.  DVDs, resistance bands and tubes are small enough to fit in any carry on and can help you workout anywhere.  If your bulky running shoes won’t fit in that carry on, wear them.  Same goes for a heavy cold weather coat.  Check out these additional recommendations for help with your travel fitness strategy.

Schedule activities.  Find out what there is to do in your destination.  If you’re in a new place, there’s no excuse not to try something.  You might check out a new class in vibrant New York City, go for a horseback ride in Wyoming, walk through wine country in Napa or scuba dive in Honolulu.  Canoeing, skiing, dancing and even a long sight seeing walk will keep you moving forward.  Even if it’s not your preferred mode of working on your fitness, any athletic activity will help you perform at a higher level when you get home.

Use your hotel.  Yes, they’re usually small, but hotel gyms give you a little space to move around.  Most hold stationary bikes, treadmills, ellipticals and weight machines and some have quite modern, state of the art facilities.  If there’s a pool big enough for laps or pool running, dive in.  Any hotel that’s more than one story features a set of stairs, don’t be afraid to use them.

Expect to have a tough first few days back.  Your body might still be recovering from jet lag or overindulging in food and drink.  Your muscles need a chance to get back in gear, too.  Stay hydrated, especially if you’re flying and try to plan for a recovery day once you’ve arrived back at home.

Coach Meredith

Unilateral Movement for Runners

Unilateral movement can sound intimidating.  Thankfully, however, the movements themselves aren’t.  Any runner can and will benefit from practicing using one side of their body at a time.  When we use both legs to complete a squat or jump, the stronger side often takes over while the weaker side stays that way.  This can be a recipe for a funky gait, less running power, muscle imbalances and even injuries.  Unilateral training works to make weak sides stronger, increase muscle recruitment, eliminate muscle imbalances and strengthen the core as a bonus.

Team ECRP loves unilateral movement and here are three of our favorites.  Each one will help you get stronger and run with better form.  These movements work the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, ankles, feet and abs all on their own.  If you’re looking to hit your upper body too, safely add carried or overhead weights.unilateral movement

Lunges.  Take a giant step forward with one leg then drop your back knee down towards the ground.  Be sure to keep the front knee behind to your toe, aiming for a 90 degree angle.  Once that back knee hits the ground, push back up to standing position and bring your feet back together.  Repeat on both sides.

Step-upsUsing a box, chair or table that’s strong enough to hold you and a comfortable height, place one foot fully onto the flat raised surface.  Use your front leg to lift your body upunilateral movement, bringing your back foot onto the box as well.

Single Leg Deadlifts.  Single leg deadlifts require lots of balance and hamstring mobility.  Start by standing feet together then raise one leg straight behind you while your shoulder come forward as a counter balance.  Keep your working leg steady but don’t lock out your knee as you keep your non-working hip open and back flat.  Touch the ground then slowly return to the starting position.

Include these unilateral movements in your training plan for stronger, better balanced running.

Coach Meredith