Day 3: Secret Sauce

screen-shot-2017-03-03-at-5-44-15-amAs runners, we love to RUN! The feeling of wind through our hair, the rhythmic sound of footfalls, and the satisfying completion of a tough workout are what keep us coming back for more every day. If we wanted to be gym junkies we’d do that instead, right?

But if the only form of exercise you’re getting is running, you’re missing out on a variety of benefits that could actually help your running. Strength and core exercises are the perfect complement to running. They optimize your running so you can keep going without injuries, and even race faster. Almost every training plan you look at includes cross training…well Core Crew…strength training IS cross training!

So now that you’ve admitted to yourself that you need to work on your strength, your first thought is probably leg work. I mean runners need strong legs right? Yes it’s true, strong legs are important…but so is a strong core.

A strong core helps runners with our stability, balance, posture and overall control. Core strength training reinforces the way that your pelvis, abs, hips and lower back work together. Here are three reasons why core strength work is so important.

  1. Core Work Helps You Stay Healthy – Injury prevention is a top goal for every runner because it can help you run more consistently without injuries. Core strength plays a vital role in stabilizing your entire body during running by maintaining a neutral pelvis, and delaying the breakdown in your form when you’re fatigued.
  2. Strength Exercises Improve Your Running Economy – Not only does core work strengthen your body and prevent injuries, but it also helps improve your running economy, otherwise known as running efficiency. Core workouts do this by allowing your body to use more muscle fibers during any given workout. Sometimes your body can’t recruit as many muscle fibers as possible. Using the same muscles over and over again means you get tired more quickly. But if you have a larger pool of muscle fibers to work with, you can delay fatigue and run faster. It’s important to remember that your “core” is more than just your abdominal muscles. The core includes your hips, glutes, hip flexors, obliques and lower back.
  3. Core Workouts Can Help You Run Faster – What happens when you combine injury prevention with higher efficiency? You run faster! Injury prevention is the real key to getting faster because when you can string together weeks, months and even years of consistent training, then you’ll see dramatic improvement in your race times. Long-term success (in other words, improvement) in distance running is all about consistency.

Strength training is so important that it’s often called the “secret sauce” of good training. It helps your marathon or half marathon pace this year become your easy pace next year. Consistency is what allows your 5K pace to soon become your 10K pace or your half-marathon pace as your new 5K pace becomes faster.

Let’s dig into that secret sauce and fire up our core Crew!

Day 3 exercises: 2 sets of 10

****Click here for “how to” videos****

  • Windshield Wipers
  • Standing Knee Cross Crunch
  • Side Imprint
  • Wall Sit – Do this AFTER your run if you’re running today. Doing a wall sit on tired legs is a great way to get them used stress and make them stronger.

Challenges:

  • Ab Challenge – 15 Crunches, Bicycle Crunches, Leg Lifts + :20 – :30 Plank
  • 10 Burpees

Bonus: #AbsOnFire – If you have time for a little more today, throw in this Abs on Fire workout. If you can’t get in all 3 rounds that’s ok. Do what you can because every little bit counts!

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Most likely you are familiar with sit ups and side planks, but if you’re not sure how to perform the heel touches, spiderman mountain climbers, and sprinter sit ups, watch the videos below.

Heel Touches: One of my FAVORITE ab exercise!


Spiderman Mountain Climbers: We’ve done these before, they were just called plank with heel to same elbow. Here’s how to do it.


Sprinter Sit Ups: Otherwise known as Runner Crunches! Another #CoreCrew favorite. Here’s how to do it.

Our workout today seems like a lot but you can breeze through it pretty quickly. Do what you can and remember that Core work is an essential part of becoming a stronger, healthier, FASTER runner! 🙂 

When you’re done…feel those flaming abs and know you killed your workout today Crew!

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Day 15: Halfway There!

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Technically…we’re OVER halfway there. With only 28 days in February, this is our first 28 Day Challenge. Take advantage of the short month and KILL it Crew!

13 days left. Keep pushing and finish the month strong!

With that said…it’s time for an “easy” day. Who’s up for some yoga to stretch out those tight legs and hips? ME!!!

Day 15 exercises:

Challenges:

  • Superman – 1:30 (90 seconds)
  • Push Ups – 40
  • #MadManMartin Plank Challenge – 1:30 (90 seconds)

Bonus: Code of Abs 

Looking for a little something more today? Throw in a few rounds of this Code of Abs workout and fire up that core!

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Speed Work: You’ve seen it three times now…what are you waiting for? Go get you some speed!

Workout: 800M, 400M X 3 or 4

  1. Warm up – 1 – 1.5 miles slow and easy. Get your hear pumping and your breathing going
  2. 800M (1/2 mile) – Remember those times I gave you for 400’s? Double that and slow it down just a tad. (See times below)
  3. Rest 90 seconds – walk, jog, or stand still and breahte
  4. 400M (1/4 mile) – Do not run these too fast. Remember the key is to be steady here. So you shouldn’t be running these at top speed. Take your 800M (1/2 mile) time and cut it in half.
  5. Rest 90 seconds – walk, jog, or stand still and breathe
  6. Do it all again!
  7. Repeat this cycle 3 -4 times. 3 times = 2.25 miles / 4 times = 3 miles
  8. Cool down – 1 – 1.5 miles slowly to bring your heart rate down keep your legs moving

1/4 Mile is equivalent to 400 meters or one lap of a standard-sized track while 800 meters is 1/2 mile or 2 laps around a standard-sized track.  Here’s a few examples of where your interval times would range, depending on your mile time.

For this workout, you should take the times below and slow them down just a tad. I run 400M in about 1:45 – 1:50, so for this workout, I’ll run 800M in 4:05-4:08 and the 400M in 1:55 – 2:00. You can do this. Don’t overthink it. Just go out and run a little faster than you’re used to! 🙂

During a conversation pace run, if you average a:

  • 14:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 3:00.
  • 13:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:45.
  • 12:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:30.
  • 11:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:15.
  • 10:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:00.
  • 9:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 1:45.
  • 8:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 1:30.
  • 7:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 1:15.

When that moment comes when you want to quit…think about all those who don’t have the strength and ability you do, then…

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Day 13: Secret Weapon

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At the end of yesterday’s half marathon, there is a bridge…it doesn’t look that big…but it’s deceiving. You’re tired, downright exhausted…then here comes the hill.

I had my own secret weapon  at the Donna 26.2 to Finish Breast Cancer race. I had Frank Samu, a friend and speedster who was just out having fun, smiling TONS, taking photos, and giving out high fives. Frank caught me around mile 7 and to my surprise, he stuck with me for the rest of the race. It was a godsend, because it was a hard one for me.

I had started our pacing a few friends but the crowd was thick and I lost them around mile 5, so when Frank caught me and said he was just out having fun, I knew it was time for me to go to work.

I usually use a Galloway style running method during races, a method some people call intervals and others know as the run/walk/run method. But with Frank running by my side, I knew there was no more walking in my future.

I cut out the walk breaks and just started running and let me tell you, it was hard! We were keeping  a steady low 9s pace which was doable for me so I just pressed on. 

Then we saw it…the bridge. As we started our incline, Frank knew I was tired. He could hear my labored breathing and of course he could hear me cussing about my quads (which were on fire). But he kept saying, “stay right here on my hip” and we kept moving forward.
Frank told me, “shorten your steps and use your arms.” He was right. I shortened my steps where they were merely a footstep in front of each other and used my arms to power up that bridge. We did it. I did it. I got up that bridge without stopping…and at the top are so many people cheering and screaming with signs and smiles. You run through a wall of people so thick you that you can’t help but feel their energy. The the bridge is conquered and it’s all downhill with less than a mile to the finish line. 

Frank, thank you, thank you, thank you, for hanging with me! Forgive my potty mouth and know that without you by my side, that “oh I can do 2:05 easy” would not have happened.

Short steps and arm swings Crew. DON’T SKIP ARM DAY!

Day 13 exercises: 3 sets of 10

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Upright Row + Flies
  • Inchworm Push Ups
  • Squat Thrust + Curl & Press
  • Side Planks – :30 each side
  • Wall Sit – :60

Bonus Challenges:

  • Superman – 1:10 (70 seconds)
  • Push Ups – 40
  • #MadManMartin Plank Challenge – Rest day 🙂

Speed Work: Want to throw down fabulous new Personal Records like Aicja Grace at yesterday’s Mercedes Marathon? Time for speed work!

This week, we are doing a workout I did at track last week. The key here is to keep your times as steady as possible. Don’t go out too fast…and don’t end too fast. Remember…steady steady steady. But don’t hold back on the speed!

Workout: 800M, 400M X 3 or 4

  1. Warm up – 1 – 1.5 miles slow and easy. Get your hear pumping and your breathing going
  2. 800M (1/2 mile) – Remember those times I gave you for 400’s? Double that and slow it down just a tad. (See times below)
  3. Rest 90 seconds – walk, jog, or stand still and breahte
  4. 400M (1/4 mile) – Do not run these too fast. Remember the key is to be steady here. So you shouldn’t be running these at top speed. Take your 800M (1/2 mile) time and cut it in half.
  5. Rest 90 seconds – walk, jog, or stand still and breathe
  6. Do it all again!
  7. Repeat this cycle 3 -4 times. 3 times = 2.25 miles / 4 times = 3 miles
  8. Cool down – 1 – 1.5 miles slowly to bring your heart rate down keep your legs moving

1/4 Mile is equivalent to 400 meters or one lap of a standard-sized track while 800 meters is 1/2 mile or 2 laps around a standard-sized track.  Here’s a few examples of where your interval times would range, depending on your mile time.

For this workout, you should take these times and slow them down just a tad. I run 400M in about 1:45 – 1:50 so for this workout, I run 800M in 4:05-4:08 and the 400M in 1:55 – 2:00. You can do this. Don’t overthink it. Just go out and run fast! 🙂

  • If you run a 14:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 3:00.
  • If you run a 13:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:45.
  • If you run a 12:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:30.
  • If you run a 11:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:15.
  • If you run a 10:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:00.
  • If you run a 9:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 1:45.
  • If you run a 8:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 1:30.
  • If you run a 7:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 1:15.

I hope you found some motivation from all the awesoneness that you saw this weekend and are ready to kill it! Let’s start the week off right and get to work!

Have a great Monday Crew! 🙂

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Day 10: Dear Abs

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Love our Friday ab work! You might not be able to see them yet….but they are brewing! Work hard today and feel the burn!

Day 10 exercises: 3 sets of 10

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Runners Crunch
  • Heel Touches
  • Bridge Pullover
  • Side Planks – :30 each side
  • Wall Sit – :60

Challenges:

  • Superman – :50
  • Push Ups – 30
  • #MadManMartin Plank Challenge – One more :60 Plank

Bonus: Add a little extra burn today with a few rounds of Daily Abs Crew! A few means 3! 🙂

Daily Abs

Food Challenge: What is ab day without a No Junk Food Challenge? Don’t waste all that hard work by eating crap! This is usually a 21 Day Challenge but we like to take things one day at a time. No Junk Food…just for today Crew! You got this!

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Love your abs today! That’s right Crew…you thought you were done but you have time for one more round of #DailyAbs. Give it a little extra and love your abs…AGAIN!

Happy Friday Crew! 🙂

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Day 8: YAY for YOGA!

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-7-32-48-pmAfter lots of great strength work, tons of mileage with our weekend long runs and races, AND logging miles for our Paris virtual race….I am so thankful for a yoga day!

Heading out for “stupid early” 4am track but will be looking forward to coming home, stretching it all out, and quieting my mind and body before the rest of the day begins!

When you wake up and see yoga do you think…

“Oh yay, yoga day…a little time for me!”

OR

“Oh yay, yoga day…a day I can skip…”

Do you feel like yoga day isn’t important? Is it a day you won’t feel guilty about letting slide by?

We put this “rest” day from strength training in for a reason…because it’s important to make time to relax, to stretch, and to clear your mind of clutter. But there are other reasons to add yoga to your routine. As a runner, I stress the importance of flexibility and strength…but yoga has so many more benefits. Which reason speaks to you?

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We know why we should do it…but we have to make the time.

Will you make a little time for you today?

It’s just as important as every other day. So don’t skip it.

Plan ahead. You’re worth it.

Day 8 exercises:

Challenges:

  • Superman – Rest
  • Push Ups – 30
  • #MadManMartin Plank Challenge – :45 Plank (One more you can do this!)

Speed Work: Who’s doing speed work today? 1/4 mile repeats are on the menu!

Workout – 6X-12X 400M (1/4 mile) – If you are just easing into speed work for the first time. Keep it short and do 1/4 mile repeats 6 times for a total of 1.5 miles. If you’ve been doing this for a while now, and are training for a longer distance race…don’t be lazy…get in those 12 1/4 mile repeats for a total of 3 miles of speed work. Remember to warm up AND cool down. Both are very important parts of this workout. If you have questions, reach out to me. Let’s chat about how to make this work for you.

1/4 mile repeats can be done on the track, treadmill, or on the road with a GPS watch. Do whatever works for you…but don’t skip it. I know it can be daunting…but speed work will not only help you get faster, but it will also help you increase your breathing abilities and make your long runs easier.

Warm-Up  5:00 jog followed by your choice of Dynamic Movements (high knees, butt kicks, leg swings, sideways shuffles, skipping, etc)

Work-Out – 6-8 x 1/4 Mile Repeats at a pace that is :30 faster than your race pace.

*1:00 standing or walking rest in between each set.

1/4 Mile is equivalent to 400 meters or one lap of a standard-sized track.  Here’s a few examples of where your interval times would range, depending on your mile time.

If, during a conversation paced run, you average a:

  • 14:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 3:00.
  • 13:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:45.
  • 12:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:30.
  • 11:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:15.
  • 10:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 2:00.
  • 9:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 1:45.
  • 8:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 1:30.
  • 7:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile in 1:15.

Cool-Down  5:00-10:00 easy jog (you’ve earned it!)


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This quote spoke to me today and I wanted to share it. We are here to get stronger. To run father and faster. We want to stay on the road doing what we love. But the truth is…it’s so much more important than that. Every day that we do a little more than we would without each other’s support is a day we work towards a longer, healthier, more active life.

All the little movements we make time for help us live longer, healthier lives in the future.

Day 24: Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving Crew! I hope you all have a very blessed day with family and friends!

Lots of us are racing or just getting out to be active today. Throw in some ab work before your meal, or wait till tomorrow and pair it up with hips…but get it done! Just don’t try to do it after your big Thanksgiving meal. 🙂

Day 24 exercises: Abs – 3 sets (:30 each exercise) 

****Click here to how to videos****

  • Roll Up
  • Pilates Scissors
  • Bird Dog Crunch (right side)
  • Boat Pose
  • Bird Dog Crunch (left side)
  • Side Planks – :30 each side

Bonus: Give thanks and let us know what you are thankful for today!

I am thankful for so many things. My son and family, my friends, my faith, my health, my Crew, and RUNNING!

Have a wonderful day full of love, laughter, and activity! MUAH!

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Day 22: Training Purgatory

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-5-13-15-amIf you’re in a warm weather climate like me, this is your peak racing season and you’re probably running a lot and generally trying to eat well.

But for others, as you move into the cold season and your races are over for a while, you might be in a bit of a funk.

What happens when you don’t have a race to train for, it’s getting harder to go outside in the cold, and you have the holidays looming with lots of yummy and fattening food ahead?

This is what it was like for Steve Gosner, Physical Therapist, sub 3 hour marathoner and 2 time Iron Man. He calls it “training purgatory”, when a slight “thickening” around his waist and a “sure, why not?” attitude towards desert (beer) and a second helping at dinner are the norm.

A RunSmartOnline.com article called, Training Between Races, emphasizes this “whatever” period as a time to go easy on yourself, take the 2nd helping, and adopt a “zero pressure running” attitude.

This doesn’t mean you should be gluttonous, skip your strength work, and avoid lacing up your running shoes. Hopefully, being in the Core Crew and watching others continue to train gives you some motivation to keep being active, but according to RunSmartOnline, there are ways to maintain your fitness while still giving yourself a chance to rest, recoup, and be ready when your training starts up again.

Here are a few ideas they suggest:

1. Zero Expectation Running

Whether you’re last training cycle was a huge success or a bust, it’s important to reconnect with running. Let’s face it. It’s not uncommon for our running to feel like a chore when we’re training. We rush to fit it all in, juggling a handful of other tasks and schedule.

During your training purgatory go out and run just to run. Set zero expectations of time, distance, and pace. Go out and simply come back when you’re ready. To me, these are the best runs.

2. Keep It Slow

Unless you’re squeezing in a few short races before training officially begins, avoid working too hard. Wouldn’t it suck to stir up an injury before your training cycle begins? Who wants to get off to a rocky start? Not me and I’m guessing not you.

Find a pace between your easy and base building pace. The sweet spot hovers around a pace that you’re breathing is easy and you can chat freely without gasping for oxygen.

3. Prep for Training

As most runners begin training for their spring races it’s important to avoid a complete shut down. Doing so will not only will it zap your current level of fitness, but it could weaken your tolerance to injury when you start training again.

Keep up with your running, but keep it slow and with no pressure added. Prepare for the time when training will start again with strength exercises. Take the 2nd helping, but don’t overdo it, and avoid late night snacking and too much overindulgence.

What are some other ways you help keep yourself in check? How about signing up for your next race? Signing up for a race, even one that is a little far out, could help keep you mentally prepare to keep up your fitness! If your race season is too far in the future to keep you excited, find a race in Florida and come visit! 🙂

In the meantime, strength work is top priority to be ready and stay injury free. It’s ab day…the perfect way to combat that 2nd helping!

Day 22 exercises: Abs – 3 sets (:30 per exercise) 

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Roll Up
  • Pilates Scissors
  • Bird Dog Crunch (left side)
  • Boat Pose
  • Bird Dog Crunch (right side)
  • Side Plank (:30 each side)

Bonus: Daily Abs (3 rounds) + No Junk Food Challenge + Water Challenge

The no junk food challenge usually lasts 21 days, but we’re just making the commitment for one day and since it’s Tuesday, we are also going to drink lots of water! Who’s in?

 


Speed Work: This week’s speed work out is one of my favorites because it’s a great workout and still hurts, but is doable for everyone.

Workout: 4-6X 800M (1/2 mile repeats) 

  1. Warm up – 1-1.5 miles (slow)
  2. 4-6x 800M – 1/2 mile repeats with :90 rest in between sets
  3. Cool down – 1-1.5 miles (slow)

Total of 3-6 miles depending on your distance level. If you’re in “training purgatory” the lower level of 3 miles is a great way to work up a sweat and keep your speed in tact. If you’re in peak training and have a race coming up, go for the longer distance and bust out 6 miles with 3 miles of speed work!


Once again, we are coming up on the end of the month. November 22nd means it’s time to plan for December and I want to hear your ideas for next month’s strength work. ALL ideas welcome! Video yourself doing your favorite strength exercises, or just let me know what you want to work on. Don’t be shy! Reach out to me and post in Strong to the Core, or private message me here. If we aren’t “friends” on Facebook, please friend me because I love to get to know you better by seeing your everyday life. 🙂

Whether your in peak training season, or in “training purgatory” let our Core Crew help keep you active. Stay involved, post what you’re up too, and when you get your exercises done. Posting helps keep you motivated and means we can cheer you on!

No matter what keeps you going….get moving and be active Crew! 🙂

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