Friday, February 9, 2018

Back in Mind

Back exercises and running surprisingly go hand in hand. If your running form needs improvement, it’s likely that your posture does too. Having a strong back will help propel you forward at a more efficient rate.

Lower Back

Superman’s

For this exercise, lay a yoga mat or towel on the ground. Start by lying down on your stomach. Raise your arms to your head, so your hands are placed at the back of your head. Your elbows should be bent and out to the sides. Lift your head off of the ground shortly followed by lifting your shoulders and chest. Your lower abdominals and legs should be the only body parts touching the mat. Hold the position for 5 seconds before resting and going into another rep.

Diagonals

Stay in the same starting position as the Superman’s. Place your arms straight out above your head. Then raise your right arm and your left leg and hold, then place them back down. Switch and raise your left arm and your right leg and hold, then place them back down. When you are comfortable pick up the speed in-between switches, until it’s one fluid motion. It’s almost as if you were pretending to swim on the land.

Bird Dogs

To start this exercise, get on your hands and knees. Start by reaching out with your left arm straight above your head and at the same time, extending your right leg straight back. This should be done at a slower speed. Once both are fully stretched out, hold the position. Slowly, bring your left arm and right leg back towards the starting position. You want to touch your left elbow to your right knee before returning both to the ground. After you completed your reps for this side switch sides, so that now your right arm raises forward and your left leg extends back. Hold, and then let your right elbow touch your left knee before setting them back on the ground.


                                                                                 image courtesy of healthyfocus.com


Child’s Pose

This is a nice stretch to release the tension in your lower back, and it’s a good way to end a lower back workout. Start on the ground on your hands and knees. Keeping your hands planted firmly on the ground, gently rock backwards until you are resting on your legs. Keep your head down and breathe deeply. Stay in this position until you feel properly stretched out.  



Upper Body

Renegade Row

These are extreme push-ups, so if your push-up game is not as strong yet hold off on this exercise. For this exercise, you will need two light dumbbells, choose a weight that is not effortless, but not tiring after a few reps. With your dumbbells close, get into a push up position. Move your dumbbells so they are directly underneath where you would place your hands. When you are comfortable, grab a dumbbell in each hand and do a push-up. When you are back in the starting push-up position, raise your right dumbbell by letting your right elbow bend backwards, then place it back down. Then do another push-up. Once you are back in starting position raise your left dumbbell until your hand is even with your chest. Two push-ups with both of the tricep curls is one complete rep. Try doing 10 and modify it if you need to.

Shoulder Squeeze

Start in a push-up position. Instead of going into a push-up, let your shoulders drop, so that they move closer together. Squeeze, hold, and then relax. It should feel like you are trying to arch your back in push-up position. Do 10 reps of these to strengthen your upper back.

Standing Rows

Choose a dumbbell weight that will work your arms and one that you can easily do reps with. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and slightly bend your knees. Keeping your back straight, bend your torso forward. Pull the weights up, so that your elbows stick up past your back, but your arms remain close to your body. Then lower your arms back down again. Make sure when you do this exercise not to round your back, this will undo the work of the exercise and creates the possibility for injury.

Hopefully with these exercises, your back will get and maintain the strength it needs to help you become a better runner and cyclist. Maintaining a strong back will help improve your posture and prevent injuries from occurring.


Happy Strengthening!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Nutrition through the Holidays

Triathlon season might have ended, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your healthy eating habits. Staying fit through the holidays is a challenge, but it is not impossible. Here are a few tricks and tips to help you survive the season of comfort food and sweets

Potatoes

If your holiday meals contain various ways of cooking potatoes, i.e. mashed, scalloped, au gratin, think about replacing your russets for sweet potatoes. The reason why you want to switch from the traditional white potatoes to sweet potatoes is for the differing nutritional content. While they are equal in some aspects, sweet potatoes contain more potassium and fiber, which means your heart will be happy and you will get fuller faster.

Grains Go a Long Way

Grains that are high in nutritional value like quinoa and rice are perfect for meal prepping. During your meal prep day make enough grains to last throughout the week. Add them to the meals you prep, or if you are on the go and need something fast, cook some beans and plate them on top of your chosen grain. All of a sudden you have a tasty nutritional meal with hardly any time involved. They also serve as a healthy side at a big holiday dinner.

Burger Cravings

If your craving a burger, try a vegetarian or black bean patty. If these alternatives just won’t fill the burger void switch the bun. Instead of eating your burger on a traditional hamburger bun, try swapping the bun for an English muffin. This will save you some calories and unlike making your burger into a wrap, it adds fiber into the meal.


                                              picture courtesy of eatthis.com




The Perfect Holiday Snack

The holidays have temptation lurking around every corner. After Halloween there is always plenty of candy and during the Christmas season peppermint is everywhere. Stave off the cravings by snacking on pumpkin seeds. Avoid the prepackaged roasted ones and go for ones you’ve scooped out of the pumpkin or the packaged ones that have the least additives. All they need is a little oil and salt, and then to be baked in the oven. Pumpkin seeds are a great snack because they are loaded with fiber and potassium, making them not only season friendly, but also extremely nutritious.

Simple Switches

If you are preparing festive meals, there are a few simple switches you can make that will cut calories without ditching flavor. Swap the usual milk and butter for almond milk. If you are making potatoes, you can even swap the milk for broth. Use coconut oil to replace olive oil. Try corn bread instead of other dense carbs. Lastly, instead of an overabundance of chocolate or other decadent dessert, try a fruit based dessert.

Come to the Light Side

Turkey is a staple for the holiday meal. Instead of depriving yourself from all holiday foods, take the better part of the turkey. The lighter meat of the turkey is healthier for you than the darker meat portion of the turkey. Don’t skip out on the holiday bird if it’s the centerpiece for you, just be picky on which part of the turkey is on your plate.

For the Pie Lovers

If you’re like me, then pie is non-negotiable. If you’re health conscious this holiday season then it is best to weigh your pie options. Both apple pie and pumpkin pie reign supreme this time of year, but pumpkin pie contains fewer calories then apple pie. Pecan pie is the worst when it comes to nutrition of the typical holiday pies, so unless it can’t be helped, avoid it.

Portion Sizes

The holidays usually include buffet style amounts of food at parties. If everything at the party looks absolutely delicious then your only option is portion control. Take little amounts of everything, as if you were sampling it, to avoid going overboard.

Don’t deprive yourself of holiday fun in the interest of training, but if you want a fitter holiday meal don’t be afraid to try it out. The holidays are a time of celebration and family, so don’t sweat it if you missed a workout or had a day of splurging.


Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Training After Sunset: Tips to Stay Safe at Night

Daylight savings time has just ended, which means it gets darker sooner. If you train after daytime work hours, this might mean training during the night. Never fear though, if this is your first-time training after daylight savings time, these are the tips for you, and if you’ve been through this before here are some helpful reminders.

Cycling at Night

Light It Up

Even if it’s not required in your state to have headlights and taillights attached to your bike, it’s a great way to increase visibility. When buying bike headlights and taillights look for ones with flashing options. You will never look at your taillight, but to a driver a flashing taillight will draw attention to your bike. Headlights will not only cause drivers to be more aware of you, but it’ll also help you see objects in the road like potholes in the night. Make sure that any bike attachments you have don’t get in the way of your headlights or taillights.

The Music of the World

This goes for daytime as well, but it is especially important at night. Never wear earbuds or headphones while cycling in the dark. Music will cut down your awareness of your surroundings, which makes riding at night more dangerous. Stay alert and leave your favorite tunes for a different time.


                                                  picture courtesy of fellrunningguide.co.uk


Running

Lights All Around

It’s best to run your route in a well-lit area. This helps you avoid potential dangers by helping you see where you are going. In addition to avoiding dangers easily, it’ll lessen the chances of anything dangerous happening to you. The main idea is to run in well-lit areas not only so you can see, but so you can be seen.

Darkness

If you decide to run someplace that is not well-lit, remember to always bring a form of light whether it’s a flashlight or a head lamp. These light sources will change how your eyes view depth, so when you run with a light that’s bouncing as much as you are, realize that the ground is a lot closer than your eyes can perceive. This means lift your feet up higher than you think you need to in order to avoid any stumbles or trips.




Running, Cycling, and Everything In-Between


Shine Bright

No matter how you train in the dark, it’s important for others to know you are training in the dark. Make yourself as visible as possible for other people, cyclists, and most importantly cars. You want to be noticed. Pile on your reflective gear, lights, and any bright neon clothes to become visible during the night time.

Routes

If you plan on training at night, make sure you have been on the route in the daytime before rushing out to train in the dark. This will help your mind make a mental note of certain landmarks that can keep you on the right track. The last thing you want is to get lost in the dark.

Weather

Typically, if you are training at night, that means it’s getting close or is winter time in your area. When it’s cold out that means switching gear. In addition to swapping out normal clothes for eye catching gear, take into consideration the temperatures you will be training in. You may want to add a reflective jacket or beanie to the list of gear you need for training at night.

Training at night can be cold and hazardous, but with the proper gear and knowledge it can also be exhilarating. Have fun with your night runs and bike rides, but always remember to stay safe.


Stay Visible!