Category Archives: Core & Upper Body

Week in Review 12.19.16 to 12.25.16

First, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and spent lots of quality time with friends, family or chosen family. For me, it was enough of a gift to be home for a couple of days without packing a bag!

Monday: Interview at Brown so quick early workout with 2.5 miles on the treadmill and a body weight strength workout.

Tuesday: 7 miles easy outside followed by 45 minutes of nordic skiing at the Range.

Wednesday: Appointment went way over so all I got in was 45 minute of skiing at Trapps.

Thursday: 9 mile progression run plus 45 minutes of nordic skiing.

Friday: 7 miles of easy running.

Saturday: 6 mile fartlek with 10 by 1 min hard, 1 min easy.

Sunday: Easy hour of skiing at my parents.

Total Miles: 31.5

Total Minutes Skiing: 195 minutes

I did not do a good job of balancing running and coaching this week, period. During cross country season, if I screw up my schedule or have too much going on, I still get a run in at practice. During nordic season, however, I’m on skis and although it’s a GREAT workout, it’s not a run. It’s typically my intention to use skiing as a secondary workout but that didn’t work out this week. I’m glad that I got a decent progression run in as well as a fartlek workout but I’ll admit that I’m frustrated to not be able to string together any reasonable training lately. My total mileage for 2016 will be much lower than any other year during medical school (even my surgery years), so I’m doing a little soul searching on what is going on to contribute to that and what I can do to improve for 2017.

The All-Terrain Runner series was released for 2017 so I’m debating about whether I want to sign up for that again and try to get more events in this year or simplify and stick to New Bedford with a plan to reevaluate after I know where I’m moving in June.

Week in Review 3.21.16 to 3.27.16

Monday: 7.5 date run with Joey! Windy but nice out.

Tuesday: 9.5 mile workout. 2 mile tempo on the track plus 4 by 200. Felt really clunky during the 200s, so definitely need to be really intentional about getting striders in.

Wednesday: Travel day to Norwalk. Always a much longer trip than I anticipate. 8.1 miles around Norwalk, trying to get my bearings.

Thursday: 5.7 miles plus 4 striders.

Friday: 5 mile progression run on the treadmill. It’s dark when I wake up here and this is not a town where you run in the dark. Wanted to make sure I got legs in so cut my run a bit short.

Saturday: HEAVEN! 7.5 miles in Mianus River Park, which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever run. Amazing trails, well marked and technical enough to be fun without having to concentrate intently. Arms after.

Sunday: Less heavenly…11.4 miles around town. Hard to find a place to run safely and long here but I did find a decent, almost car free loop for tempo Tuesdays.

Total Miles: 54.7

It’s always tricky to find places to run in a new town. Luckily, I think I’m going to be able to make Norwalk work with the carrot of Mianus River Trails on off days. The biggest challenge is going to be finding a place to do speed work. It’s track season which makes high school tracks difficult to find and there aren’t any colleges with tracks close by.

Overall, I’m extremely grateful for this week of training. My mileage was solid for recent weeks, I felt good on my runs and I actually had a few moments of total zen on my Saturday run. Can’t ask for much more! This will be my last up week before a mini-taper for the trail championships so I’m hoping for similar mileage and workouts with one of those workouts being more speed focused if I can figure it out.

Week in Review 1.11.15 to 1.17.15

Thank goodness for my treadmill!!

Monday: 4 miles after work.

Tuesday: 7.1 mile progression run.

Wednesday: 3 mile run with whole body strength afterward.

Thursday: Yoga Week 2!! Much less miserable, although I’m still far from flexible. The change in my back pain is incredible however.

Friday: 6 mile run and arms before work.

Saturday: 4.2 mile run and 300 abs.

Sunday: 7.3 mile outdoor run.

Total Miles: 31.6

Although it’s not where I’d like to be, I’m thrilled to get over 30 in this week and not feel entirely wiped out. I do want to get more strength work in and am hoping for an outdoor workout one weekend day this week.

I’m also looking forward to bringing my lunch from home this week. Although it’s more convenient to just grab something from the coffee cart between clinic and the OR, I hate spending money on food that isn’t as good or nutritious as I could bring from home. Thus, the theme of yesterday afternoon was organization! I planned out my dinners for the week, prepped any food that I could including all my snack bags and generally got organized so I can make the most of the week. Feels so much better to have my own lunch!

The keys to organization (for me): meal planner, lunch box with preprepped meals and a steno pad of all my various to dos!

The keys to organization (for me): meal planner, lunch box with preprepped meals and a steno pad of all my various to dos!

Improvement Season: Strength

When I think about strength training, it splits into two categories: strength for injury prevention and strength for speed development. While I think I did a good job with the former, my form and turnover towards the end of my training cycle suggests that I was less successful at the latter.

What did I do this training cycle? Arms on recovery days, 20 minute legs on workout days and core with the team, which is to say a little more sporadically than desired. Going into Philly, I wasn’t injured but I also didn’t feel particularly strong.

I attribute part of this to the fact that I didn’t rotate routines or up my weights. When I make strength routines for my team, we do them for no more than 6 weeks then change it up so that muscles never have an opportunity to plateau. In the moderate chaos of coaching, training and classes, I didn’t spend enough time trying to diversify my strength routines.

Going forward, my goal is to do a different strength routine every day and to try to incorporate more movement and balance into those exercises. For example, rows from a plank position rather than bent over rows or single leg deadlifts instead of traditional deadlifts. One of my favorite resources for workout ideas is Pinterest. Although it’s not exactly the pinnacle of exercise science and the emphasis on “bikini bodies” or “blast those love handles” is a little nauseating, it does have tons of workouts and exercises from which it’s possible to make some great routines. I’ve spent the last week looking through all my workout pins, writing down exercises that I want to try and piecing together new routines.¬†As I work through them and figure out what ones I love, I’ll be sharing them here.

Where do you get new ideas for strength training? How often do you switch up your routine?

No Body’s Perfect

At first blush, running seems like it should be easy. After all, we’ve been doing it since we were running away from wooly mammoths and the like. Spend fifteen minutes at a race, however, and you’ll note that although there are many different ways to “run,” they are not all equivalent in terms of efficiency or speed. As a result, running form is a constant focus of coaches and athletes alike. We spend time doing drills, striders and looking through video and pictures to assess the progression in form from the first 400 to the finishing stretch.

Despite knowing that my running form needs work, I haven’t spent a lot of time on it in recent years. Some of that is just from my schedule but some of it is stubbornness; my knees haven’t driven for almost 32 years, why would they start now?! However, behind this stubbornness, I know that if I want to get to the next level, I can’t fight my forward progress with low knees and a twisting upper body.

A skips. My face tells you how hard this is for me...

A skips. My face tells you how hard this is for me…

Now that I have the luxury of more time, I’m starting and ending every run with a routine of hip swings, cycle steps and skips to enforce good form and practicing good form in spurts throughout my easy runs. During my striders, I’m focused on driving knees and open arm swing. Finally, I’m lifting daily to make sure my muscles are strong enough to support all these new patterns of motion.

A physical reminder to stand tall.

A physical reminder to stand tall.

As a team, we are also working on posture this year. As most of us tire through a run or a race, we tend to collapse our shoulders inward which impedes our breathing and collapses our pelvis. Our taping project is the brain child of a team parent who is a PT. The tape (KT Tape) is placed such that you get a small tug on your lower back when you start to collapse inward. It definitely helps with running but I even notice its benefit when I’m just standing around and start to get lazy.

What parts of your form are you working on? Are you open to change or stubborn about your form? What drills do you do regularly?

Week in Review: 1.26.15 to 2.1.15

January is over?! Does that mean the frigid cold is over too? Looking ahead to another winter storm advisory (and another 6 to 8 inches of snow), it seems that winter is nowhere near wrapped up. I love the snow but I’d also love to get out of the single digits and back to running outside.

Monday: 80 minutes of classic skiing at the Range including a whole lap all by myself! Most of the team went back country so I took a small group to do focused technique. Just awesome.

Tuesday: Blizzard workout creativity. Warmed (ish) up to the gym then 30 minutes of 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy and a cooldown for 8.6 miles. Legs afterward.

Wednesday: 3.25 mile recovery run and an hour of skiing (mostly games) with the team. Legs wiped but might be more from soft snow than anything.

Thursday: Skied up the back of Mansfield and then since it was beautiful out, got a 5.25 mile run done when I got home. Legs tired but knew the cold snap was coming. 4 striders at the end.

Friday: Snuck 7.1 in before the mock boards.

Saturday: 8.5 mile threshold run on the treadmill. Legs and abs after.

Sunday: Mentally defeated by being indoors!! Was hoping for 90 minutes but literally couldn’t make myself do any more than 60. Arms after.

Weekly Total: 40.0 (on the dot) plus 4 ish hours of skiing.

2 legs, 1 arms.

Total for January: 185 miles.

Did my best to get a little running in every day this week. The temperatures are killing me (I really can’t keep my hands warm below 5) so I’m hoping we warm up a tad soon. Our Board Prep class has wrapped and now I only have coaching on the calendar, so I should have a little more flexibility to run. My general plan is to get my run done early so I have a nice chunk of the day to study before heading to practice.

20 Minute Leg Workout for Runners

This is my 20 minute, no BS leg workout that can be done at home or at the gym and hits the key muscle groups for building a strong drive train. Start with 8 to 10 reps of each exercise and 2 full sets. As you get stronger, add more reps in with an eventual goal of 20 reps per exercise. This is a little different from “traditional” weight training, where you usually top out around 12 before increasing weight. Endurance sports required a slightly different approach to lifting; because we primarily want muscle strength that helps us out when our bodies are exhausted, lifting for endurance tends to focus more on higher reps and lower weight. There are certainly times for lifting heavier weights (base building season, for example), but for in season strength training, stick to more reps and less weight.

One of the reasons I put videos** here (and WAY less than perfect videos) is to inject some reality into how hard it is to build real, functional strength. I’m not perfect at these exercises, they aren’t easy for me and it’s okay if they aren’t easy for you! #keepingitreal #nophonyrunningblogs

1. Single Leg Squat. It’s okay to hold onto something for balance here (I still do!) but your real focus is controlling your motion down and up and teaching your knee to track in the midline. Only go down as far as you can stay controlled.

2. Plie Squat.

3. Step-ups. Keep these to 10 reps and add an additional set once you feel fluid.

4. Plie Squat Jump. I don’t use weights for this because I like to use my arms to help get an explosive upward movement. Focus on landing lightly; if you are slamming into the ground, you’re missing a key part of the movement.

5. Donkey Kick.

6. Fire Hydrant.

7. Pendulum Squat.

8. Deadlift. You can do this with a straight bar or dumbbells. I usually use a straight bar at the gym, but don’t have one at home so use dumbbells at home. Focus on keeping your back flat (but not artificially straightened) and on driving hip bones up as you stand up.

9. Weighted Squat. If I’m at the gym, I use the Smith rack but at home, I rest the dumbbells on my shoulders for these. If you have a shoulder or rotator cuff injury, I’d recommend just using body weight instead. As with any squat, focus on keeping your knees midline and behind your big toe.

What other at-home exercises do you do? Hardest one of these for you?

**PS sorry the first two are sideways. It is just not my week for technology!

Week in Review 6.2.14 to 6.8.14

It was a nice adaptation week with a capstone of the Causeway 15K at the end. I had my most successful blogging week ever (so thanks!) and wrote about runners and body image, shared a picture from my very first marathon and did my first giveaway (which is still going through Monday night!)

Monday: PT plus a 7.1 mile run in Colchester with Will. Everyday Abs before bed.

Tuesday: 7 miles plus 4 striders at the end. Feeling a little clunky in the humidity. 300 Abs routine.

Wednesday: Workout! Very deceptive workout that didn’t sound that hard but kicked my butt. Try it if you don’t believe me! 2 sets of 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minutes at R pace with whatever you need in between to recovery. My first set was very clunky but my second set really started to feel smooth. Pace was sitting around 5:45 pace so I can’t complain about that! Let myself “run choppy” on the cooldown and felt about 100 times better. 9 miles total with drills before.

Just some goats mowing the lawn at Leddy Park for my workout.

Just some goats mowing the lawn at Leddy Park for my workout.

Thursday: Scheduled off day. Prorated 6.7 miles.

Friday: 3.4 mile shakeout plus 4 striders. Let myself be choppy again and it was just so much better. 7:33 pace for the run and felt a lot more natural than plodding along trying to be relaxed. Did arms at home and the Core Challenge workout.

Tough, especially the last upright plank.

Tough, especially the last upright plank.

Saturday: Causeway 15K in 1:02:39! Great fitness check. 2 mile warmup, 3 mile cool down for 14 miles. Hipcore and glute activation after.

Post race selfie.

Post race selfie.

Sunday: Recovery 8.

Total Miles: 55

1 Lift

3 Core

1 hipcore

This was a solid recovery week. I focused on getting better sleep and making sure I was well fueled and hydrated. Wish I’d gotten to the gym but with the race Saturday and my history of being sore from leg days, I didn’t want to risk it.

The Stunt Puppy Giveaway has brought in some adorable pictures so far; here are two submissions that cracked me up.

Lexa Stunt Puppy

Lexa with all her mama’s hardware on

Fenway on a run with her parents

Fenway on a run with her parents

Week in Review 3.31.14 to 4.6.14

I’m in DC this week for a conference, so late getting this out. The best part of getting a little farther south is that I got to run in shorts and a tee shirt both days and enjoyed the sun. It’s rainy here today but looks beautiful for tomorrow, so I’ll head out for as long as I can before I fly home.

Monday: 8 mile run. New shoes starting to feel better. Still clunky first mile but starting to feel smoother.

Tuesday: 6.2 mile run.

Wednesday: Off day.

Thursday: Little interval workout with Joey. 4 by 800 at ~3:10 to 3:20 pace. Felt good. Nice day out! Total run of 7.2 miles.

Friday: 5.1 mile recovery plod. First day post surgery where I’ve really felt awful. Did an abbreviated full body lift.

Saturday: 10.5 mile run around DC. Easy pace. Still feeling punky. Core at night.

Sunday: 5 mile run on the Georgetown Towpath. Feel GREAT! Hard to convince myself to not do a second run.

Reflection: 41.9 miles for week. Glad to be getting used to what 40 miles per week feels like. I’ll be moving up to 45 miles this week. Somehow it felt like a busy week and I didn’t do a great job on the extras. This week will be similarly busy, but hopeful I can at least do some at home workouts to supplement. Excited to start doing more structured workouts.

Week in Review 3.10 to 3.16

It was an inspiring weekend of racing, with Shalane Flanagan getting the AR in the 15K, great debuts at the NYC Half and lots of stellar performances at both D1 Indoor Champs and New Balance Indoor Nationals. Makes me want to get back out there and race! Here’s my workout week in review:

Monday AM: 3 mile run on the treadmill. Strength: Legs including step ups.

Monday PM: 45 mile recovery aquajog in the evening.

Tuesday: Off Day (I’m doing 3 days of running, 1 day off) with a walk home.

Wednesday: 3.3 mile run before the snowstorm

Thursday: 20 minute interval workout on the Elliptical. Strength: Upper Body

Friday AM: 60 minute aquajog

Friday PM: 4 mile run with some speed changes. Strength: Core

Saturday AM: 9.7 mile run through the slush and snow.

Saturday PM: 60 minute aquajog. Strength: Back

Sunday: 3 mile run easy.

Reflection: Runs felt good this week and I did a good job of getting in the gym to get my lifting in. Need to be better about core and about second workouts in the coming week. Until I’m back at normal mileage, aiming for either an hour of aquajogging or spin class most days of the week.