Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Strength Every Runner Should Do: The Bridge

We've talked about squats, lunges, planks, rotational exercises and now it's time to shine the strength spotlight on the bridge. Bridges are exercises I have every one of my clients do on a regular basis. They are the epitome of core work in that they not only work the abdominal muscles but there is also a special focus on the posterior: the back, hips, glutes, hamstrings and calves. This is really important for runners as it improves hip stability as well as glute and hamstring strength, which will help prevent hip, knee and lower leg injuries. As far as performance goes, your power as a runner comes from glute and hamstring strength. Wanna power up a hill? Building glute and hamstring strength will help tremendously. All-in-all, adding bridges to your routine will help you be a better runner.

Let's begin with the basic bridge. You'll lay down flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. You'll want your feet about a foot or so away from your booty. Lay your hands down along your sides. If bridging is difficult for you, you can reduce the challenge by placing the arms further away from your sides, even out like a T. Inhale, drive your weight through your heels and lift your hips off the ground as you exhale. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then lower your hips back to the floor as you inhale again. That is one repetition. Repeat for at least 10 reps per set. Aim for 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Once this seems fairly easy you can progress to the bridges below.

 


Once a client has mastered the basic bridge, I'll progress them to the bridge with heels down and toes up. This forces the body to engage the hamstrings and glutes more so than when the feet are flat on the ground. You'll perform the bridge as outlined above but have your toes pointing up.



From here, you can progress to the bridge with marching. This further improves hip stability as you must keep your hips level and even while doing the move. Begin in basic bridge starting position with your arms at your sides. You can begin without the toes up and when that is mastered, you can do the move with toes up, heels down to further engage the hamstrings. Inhale, drive your weight through your heels and lift your hips off the ground as you exhale. With the hips raised, you'll raise each leg up in a marching fashion. First raise the right leg up (you can keep the leg bent or straighten it) then lower it down. Then raise the left leg up and lower it down. That is one repetition. Continue to march the legs up and down as if you were marching, all while keeping the hips raised and even. Repeat for at least 10 reps per set. Aim for 2 sets of 10-12 reps.

 


Once you're a pro at the bridge with marching, you can try a single leg bridge. Begin in basic bridge starting position with your arms at your sides. You can begin without the toes up and when that is mastered, you can do the move with toes up, heels down to further engage the hamstrings. Raise your right leg straight up in the air. Inhale, drive your weight through your heels and lift your hips off the ground as you exhale. Keep that right leg straight and hips even as you lower the hips back down to the floor with an inhale. That's one rep. Continue to raise and lower the hips for 10-12 reps, then switch legs. Aim for 10-12 reps with the left leg up. Aim for 2 sets of 10-12 reps on each side.



Those are the basic bridge moves every runner should be able to do. From here, you can always add further challenge first by changing the position of your hands from on the floor to across your chest or to holding them in the air. You can also try adding some weight across your hips. Just be mindful that you don't lose your form or quality of the movement. Once you lose quality, you need to regress the move. You can also try to create some instability by placing your feet on a BOSU, a stability ball or placing your feet in TRX straps. Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy the benefit of stronger hips, glutes and hamstrings!

What's your favorite bridge move?

I'm linking up with Susie from the Suzlyfe, Lora Marie from Crazy Running Girl, Debbie from Coach Debbie Runs and Rachel from Running on Happy for the Coaches' Corner blog link up. Check these awesome ladies when you're done here!



I'm also linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday Link Up with Annmarie from The Fit Foodie Mama, Jen from Pretty Little Grub, Michelle at Fruition Fitness and Nicole at Fitful Focus. Check these badass women out!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Five Tips for Running in the Rain

It's the rainy season here in San Diego and this year, it's actually raining! We've been dealing with rain on and off for most of January. With the Spring racing season on the horizon, it's pretty much a given that, if you don't have a way to run indoors, you'll be running outside in the rain. While it's not easy, there are things you can do that will help make it a little easier.

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the ALL-NEW Friday Five 2.0 link up, hosted by Rachel at Running on Happy and Lacey and Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness. When you're done here, be sure to check these ladies out!

Before I get to the tips, always keep safety in mind. If there are thunderstorms, keep it inside. If the rain is heavy and visibility is reduced, keep it inside. But a light rain or even a moderate amount of rain could be fun! Without further ado, here are my 5 tips for running in the rain:

1. Avoid cotton clothing. One thing ever runner needs to remember is that cotton is rotten, in any circumstance. Cotton absorbs moisture and that moisture will remain next to your skin throughout your run, increasing the likelihood of chafing. That added moisture also adds weight and bulk to your clothing. And it feels hideous. Do yourself a favor and invest in good quality, moisture-wicking items for anything that touches your body while running. Always, not just when it's raining.

2. Wear layers. Even in the cold rain, you can still sweat and overheat. A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to how you feel when you first leave for your run. If you feel a little on the cold side, you're in good shape and will most likely not overheat on your run. Another starting point is following the "20 degree" rule: dress as if it's 20 degrees warmer than it actually is when you get started. This is where wearing layers will help you the most. Be sure your outer layers are as water-resistant as possible and your base layers are non-cotton (everything should be non-cotton!). And don't forget to put some anti-chafe cream everywhere to help prevent chafing and blisters. Your feet will get wet, so be sure to lube them up!

3. Wear a water-resistant, lightweight shell. Water-resistant jackets will have sealed seams that will help keep water out when running during heavier rains. Be sure the jacket is breathable to prevent you from overheating. A hood is an added bonus. If you don't have a jacket with a hood, be sure to wear a hat (see below).

A lightweight shell I picked up for
$20 on clearance at Sports Authority!

4. Wear a moisture-wicking, lightweight hat. If I know I'm going to run in the rain, I need to leave my trucker hats at home and opt for a lightweight hat instead. Trucker hats will absorb more moisture than a moisture-wicking hat and will end up weighing 1000 pounds by the end of the run. A lighter-weight hat will feel more comfortable and the brim of the hat will help keep the rain off my face.

My trusty Nike hat I've had for 1000 years

5. Avoid especially muddy areas and puddles. While your feet are going to get wet simply from running in the rain, you'll want to avoid the urge to run through deep puddles and mud. Emerging your foot in water will guarantee your shoe to be soaked (adding extra weight each time you lift your foot) and blisters to form everywhere. Be sure to plan your route accordingly to avoid any low-lying areas that are prone to puddles and/or flooding. I know jumping in puddles is fun, so this may be the toughest rule to follow!

The best thing to do for running in the rain is to be prepared. Protect yourself with good quality items (don't forget your electronics - either leave them at home or put them in a plastic bag) and you're that much closer to actually enjoying your run through the rain. And when you're done, don't forget to get into warm, dry clothing as soon as possible! Hot cocoa, anyone?

Do you like running in the rain? How do you prepare? Or do you avoid it as much as possible?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Goals for 2017

It's 2017! I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and have enjoyed the time with friends and family, doing the things you love. As the first week of the new year comes to an end, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my goals for the new year. Last year was a big year for me, logging the most mileage ever and completing my longest race to date. I wanted 2017 to be bigger and better than ever! Because my big running goal is a really BIG goal, I am only going to focus on the first half of the year with regard to my running. I'll reassess things when that goal has been reached and I'm ready for something else. Could I be any more vague? Well, without further ado, here are my 2017 goals:

But wait! Before I spill the beans, I must tell you that I'm linking up with the ALL-NEW Friday Five 2.0 link up, hosted by Rachel at Running on Happy and Lacey and Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness. When you're done here, be sure to check these ladies out!



Ok, here we go:

1. Run a 100 mile race. Yes, 100 miles. This is the big goal of the year. I've registered for my first 100-mile race, the San Diego 100 Mile. I got my acceptance letter yesterday and I'm officially on the entrants list. You have to qualify for these big races by either having run a certain distance ultra in a certain time or by just completing another big ultra. So I've met all the qualifications, it's all set and this is what I'm gunning for in 2017. All other goals lead to this one (sort of). The race is June 9th, which is why I said I'd reassess things when this one is done. I'll have almost 6 months of the year left, so we'll have to see what I'll have the desire to do next. Probably sleep :) Until then, I'm running all the miles and many of the races too. For training, I'm running:

  • Griffith Park Trail 50K
  • San Diego Half Marathon
  • Encinitas Half Marathon
  • Ragnar Relay SoCal
  • Leona Divide 50K
  • PCT 50 Mile 


2. Complete the San Diego Ultra Slam. This is the culmination of completing the 4 big mountain ultras in San Diego within a 12-month period. You must complete the Noble Canyon 50K, the PCT 50 Mile, the Cuyamaca 100K and the San Diego 100 Mile. I started my quest for the Slam with the 2016 Noble Canyon, then completed the 2016 Cuyamaca 100K. I'll be doing the PCT 50 for a third time this year and then end my quest for the Slam with the San Diego 100.

3. Make more time for yoga. I reignited my love for yoga this past year by participating in several yoga challenges on Instagram. Typically, someone hosts the challenge and posts the pose to do for each day of the challenge. You do the pose and post it. Sometimes there are prizes by sponsors (I won a bracelet that I'll feature here soon). It's super fun and allows me stop, drop and yoga. I can tune out, practice a little yoga sequence to warm up and then do the daily pose. It also allows me to be creative with my pics and I've met a ton of new yogi friends. I've also been able to get to some classes at my local studio more often, which has been great fun. But yoga also helps build strength and balance. I want to place a special focus on balance work as I train for the 100. This is so important for climbing mountains and I want my body to be as strong as it can be, on every level. It also helps calm my mind, something I'll need as I know I'm going to freak out about this race from time to time!

4. Volunteer for at least 3 races. I really want to give back to my beloved running community and this is the year I'll volunteer more. I was only able to help out at one race last year, the Surfing Madonna Beach Fest and it was so fun! I plan to volunteer at the San Diego 50-miler next weekend and I'm so excited! I can't wait to be on the other side of the aid station table, so to speak :)

5. Have at least one adventure with my family every month. After my surgery back in October, I was not able to run much. I was able to go on an adventure with the kids every Sunday until the holiday season. We went for hikes or the zoo or some other fun place. Then over the holidays when my husband was able to join us, we did even more. It was so nice to just focus on each other for a while. I hate to admit it, but this past year was so busy that we didn't do nearly enough fun stuff as a family. I really want to change that this year. And I think once a month is attainable.

There are a few other things I'd like to work on, such as not letting mom guilt (or any guilt) eat away at me so much. But these are the main goals for 2017! What goals do you have in mind for 2017?

I'm also linking up with for the Coaches' Corner blog link up with Susie from the Suzlyfe, Lora Marie from Crazy Running Girl, Debbie from Coach Debbie Runs and Rachel from Running on Happy. Check these awesome ladies out!