I learned from last week that I need to pay attention to my body and how it feels before pre-planning exact workouts each day. My body felt “off” earlier in the week so I ended up scrapping the long run and focusing more on a yoga flow. Thursday’s workout had more jumping than normal in it and my calves were on fire for the next 2 days. I convinced K to join me for a workout date Friday night so we did a light warm-up run (had to loosen up those calves!!) and then a few weight circuits with the equipment we have at home (our makeshift gym opens up right into the backyard so we can utilize a lot of space). Yesterday I could barely move from all the shoveling and pick-axing I did on Saturday (my back muscles were incredibly tight/stiff from all the rotating and my calves were still disgruntled), but we opted to go out for a 5 mile loop around town – granted it was already “front porch of hell” kind of hot so it was definitely a run/walk/try not to die kind of loop. Definitely more of a recovery style run for me (I use the term run very loosely. I hate the heat). So the point of all that is to show that I didn’t follow my pre-planned workout template AT ALL! I’m taking a different approach this week and we shall see how that turns out 🙂
I started one of the actual programs on the NTC app, so 3 of my workouts this week will come from that. One of my favorite OTF coaches has her last day at the studio this Friday (she’s moving to Kansas City) so I plan on doing a drop-in class. And we have 2 more stumps/roots to dig out of the ground from our bush removal project so another full day of shoveling and pick-axing. Those things cover 5 days of workouts so I just have 2 to test the waters of the morning of. I’m hoping to accomplish/attempt another long run and do some treadmill sprinting to spice things up.
I will definitely say I am not the best runner. I see other people who do it so effortlessly – I’m looking at you people who “jog” on the treadmill at speed 8 while I’m over here in the 5s or casually go for a 5 mile run like they’re strolling through the mall. I’m doing my best not to compare myself to them because I know every body is different and responds to exercise/cardio differently. I’m really trying to set realistic goals for ME and push myself against my own past efforts.
One thing I have been focusing more of is my warm-up style, the “move well” part of that “Feel well – Move well” motto. It’s incredibly important to get your core temp and muscles heated up and activated properly before moving into the meat of the workout. I am a sucker for just jumping straight in, especially when going out for a run because of laziness and just wanting to get started. Properly “warming-up” your body helps tremendously with injury prevention and reduction, something that I have to be a lot more aware of as I’m getting older.
Here are my keys to a good warm-up/prep session:
- Soft tissue work – that means foam rolling and accu-balls (I made my own by taping 2 tennis balls together. I also keep a field hockey ball in my gym bag). Example – foam roll/accu-ball the glute med, piriformis, calves, and feet.
- Mobility work – focus is to increase the mobility around the joints of the muscles you focused on in the first step. No static stretching, think 2 second holds with 2-4 movements. Example – kneeling hip flexor stretch.
- Activation work – Focus on areas that need more stability or control, while still working the region that picked in the above steps. These movements are more rep based (x10). Example – single leg glute bridge
- Light cardio (run/row/bike, etc.) – goal is to increase body temp and get a light sweat
- Hip activation – I use mini bands around my ankles or knees and do forward or lateral walks. Getting the hips activated is important for any sort of leg driven activity.
- Dynamic stretching – Again, no static stretching (at least not until the recovery portion of the workout!) as it can actually hinder your performance and decrease the activation of the neuromuscular system (especially 60 second holds or longer). Example – sliding lateral lunges, single leg RDLs, world’s greatest stretch.
- Movement integration – This step is more about doing slow controlled movement similar to what might be done in your workout. Example – walking lunges, A-skips, lateral shuffles.
- Neural activation – I only include this one if I’m actually going to be doing more high intense activity (ie running, sprinting, agility, plyos). Think quick feet style drills – 2 inch run, 1/4 eagles, quick step. You can even use the ladder or mini hurdles to ramp up the intensity or difficulty. The point of this step is to get the body primed to jump straight into the activity.
I’m sure all of this seems like A LOT, and on paper it does. The whole point of the warm-up is to prepare the body for the movements/exercises/drills you have planned for your workout and to hopefully prevent any injuries (well at least injuries that are preventable – no amount of warming-up is going to stop you from injury if you drop a weight on your foot or trip on a root while running. I have done both.) K thought I was crazy when I put him through this warm-up last Friday. I do feel a little self-conscious at the gym but I’m also utilizing Planet Fitness right now and people are notorious for doing weird shit there so I probably don’t stand out as much as I think.
Today’s workout is one of my NTC ones, and my hips have been bothering me all weekend so my hips/legs will be my focus during the warm-up. Especially since the workout is legs heavy!
Cheers to everyone getting their sweat on this week!