Rookie Rule #25

Pump [CLAP CLAP] You UP.

A week ago, a friend and newbie runner asked me, “Can you help me with some strength stuff? I don’t even know where to start.”

Sometimes I take my background as a jock for granted, and I neglect to realize that unless you’ve had a coach breathing down your neck while counting your bench repeats, you probably have no idea what the heck to do in a weight room. Or where to start with “strength stuff.”

Fear not! You can build strength and speed without a single piece of equipment. All you need is a little guidance and a little gravity.

Start by breaking strength into three key areas: Arms, abs and legs.

Push-Ups

Arms:

  • Push-ups: Yes, they can be hard, but that is because they are the most effective upper-body strength exercise you can do. If you need to put your knees on the ground for support, it’s totally fine. Make sure your back is straight, your eyes are looking down and your butt is tucked in (no air-humping and passing them off as push-ups). Suggested: three sets of 10 with a minute rest in between sets.
  • Dips: Sit with the heels of your hands on the edge of a sturdy chair seat. Slide your butt off the seat and support your weight with your hands. Bend your elbows back and slowly lower your butt toward the floor. Keep your elbows tucked in. Your body should just clear the seat. Suggested: three sets of 10 with a minute rest in between sets.

Crunches

Abs:

  • Traditional Sit-ups: Just like you used to do in gym class! Lay flat on the ground with your knees slightly bent and your feet flat on the ground. Cross your arms over your chest and sit up slowly. Lower your torso back to the ground. Repeat. Slow, steady movements are the key here. Suggested: three sets of 20 with a minute rest in between sets.
  • Crunches: Lay flat on the ground, cross your ankles and raise your knees in the air. Place your hands behind your neck and crunch up toward your knees. Remember, you want to engage your abdominal muscles, so don’t use your arms to yank your neck up. Suggested: three sets of 20 with a minute rest in between sets.

Lunges

Legs:

  • Forward Lunges: Stand up and put your hands on your hips. Step your right foot out a stride’s length (your knee should be at a 90-degree angle to your ankle) and lunge forward as your left knee dips toward the ground. Step back. Repeat on the left. If you do them right, you’ll FEEL IT the next day. It’s the feeling of getting stronger, so deal with it. Suggested: three sets of 10 on each leg with a minute rest in between sets.
  • Cross-over Lunges: These work the same as standard lunges, only instead of stepping your right foot out, step your right foot across your body a stride’s length. Suggested: three sets of 10 on each leg with a minute rest in between sets.
  • Calf Raises: Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart. Place your hands on your hips. Then, quickly raise up to your tippy toes. Hold it for a few seconds and lower slowly back to your heels. Repeat. For added difficultly, balance on one leg or go to a step. Suggested: three sets of 10 with a minute rest in between sets.
  • Clam Shells: Lay on your side, bend your legs slightly, keep your feet together and raise your top knee like a clamshell. Suggested: three sets of 10 on each side with a minute rest in between sets.

As a general rule of thumb, I alternate an arm exercise, a leg exercise and an ab exercise into a set. Then, I pick a new set of exercises to rotate through. For example:

  • Set 1: Push-Ups/Sit-Ups/Forward Lunges
  • Set 2: Dips/Crunches/Cross-over Lunges

You get the idea.

Another easy way to work strength training into your exercise is to incorporate it right into your run. Since you don’t need any equipment for these exercises, you can do them on the go. For example:

  • If you’re outside, stop half way through your run and do a few sets of strength exercises. Complete your route and do a few more sets of strength exercises.
  • If you’re inside, warm up for 5-10 minutes on the treadmill. Do a set of strength, and hop back on the ‘mill for 2-3 minutes. Alternate running and strength exercises for 30 minutes. Cool down on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes.

It’s that easy. No weights, no dumb bells, no need to feel intimidated. Now, go get your strength on. — Aidz

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What is a Newbie?

I’m currently training with a friend of mine, who jokes that she’s recently been referred to as a “newbie.” She’s been running her whole life, and she’s very good at it, so she’s hardly a newbie in my book. But how, exactly, does one classify a newbie?

Is it someone who’s only run a few races, and maybe only for charity/fun and not competitively? Maybe someone who runs slower than a certain pace? Could it be someone who hasn’t completed a marathon? (C’mon, that’s silly; marathons are hardly an indication of running expertise.)

So I asked myself, what is a newbie? And I was stumped. I can tell you how I felt when I joined a running group in Toronto, back when I was a “newbie” …

Oh. My. Gosh. All of the people in this group have run long-distance races. Who in their right mind runs 26 miles! Freaks!
I am totally wearing the wrong clothing. This old T-shirt doesn’t say the words “dry” or “fit” anywhere.
What the heck is a split? How does one know their splits?
And what’s the conversion between a mile and a kilometer? UGH.

What’s my pace? It’s the speed I go before I can’t talk anymore. I have no idea what that is.
I don’t have a watch. WHY didn’t I wear a watch?!?
I hope I can keep up; everyone looks so fast. 

The good news is that every running group has newbies. Every race has someone who’s running their first [insert distance].  I can’t tell you how long it takes to go from newbie to bona fide runner, but I can tell you this: it doesn’t matter how many races you’ve run, the distance you’ve covered, or the speed you move. You are a runner if you show up and believe in yourself.

It’s not about expertise, but about experience. I think that’s why people ask me for advice; I’ve experienced a lot of running scenarios, but I’m not necessarily an expert in anything. Just stay the course, and when you show up at a race more nervous about your goal than your running attire, you are probably no longer a running newbie.  — Amie

Newbie Confessional

The first in a series of “Newbie Confessional” posts from guest blogger Tela Durbin.

Tela here — new to the running world, really new to the Bad Angels Running Club, but an old person. Just celebrated my a-hem-thirty-something-mumble-maybe-late-30s-ahem birthday.

Tela, Flying Pig 5kI started running back in late January, I think. (I’m old, remember? My memories don’t work so good.) Anyway, after years of HATING running, I decided I’d like to become a runner. (And I do mean hating. In high school, we had to run approximately ½ to ¾ a mile before every basketball practice and do it under 5 minutes. I came in last every.single.practice for four years. RIGHT under 5 minutes as so not to make my team run extra. On purpose and in protest. I really hated running.)

But also, I wasn’t GOOD at it. It was hard for me. So I avoided it. But weird things happen as you age. You realize change is good. When you change, you grow. And instead of avoiding the hard things in your life, you confront them head-on because you know even if it doesn’t end well, at least you’ve learned something.

So, I found some Couch to 5K plans and started on my journey. And something interesting happened along the way. I discovered I didn’t hate running. Was it because it was no longer forced upon me? Because that runner’s high is actually real? Because I finally got a good 30 minutes of “me time” a day? Whatever the reason, I began looking forward to my runs and trying to figure out how I could maximize my time at work/home/life to squeeze in a run here and there.

My persistence paid off — I completed my first 5K in May, and I’m still running. Rest assured, I’m still not good.

But I AM learning — how to tackle the things I once feared; how to de-stress positively; how to get some much-needed “me time”; how to be a better parent; how if, just because I’m not the best (or even as good as my friends) at something, it doesn’t mean I need to give up; that I sweat a LOT; that I have muscles, sometimes they hurt, and that’s a good feeling; that my dog loves to run; that I like talking to people about something other than my kid; and much, much more.

If you are thinking about picking up those running shoes and giving it a try, please do. If I can do it, anyone can. I know, I know, everyone says that. But they say it because it’s TRUE.

If you need some motivation to get started, here are some of the C25K programs I used:

Running Into Shape

Chubby Jones

Now get out there.