For me, running and fitness has been my greatest passion in life. When I was 9 years old, my babysitter took me to my first road race in an effort to wear me out . . . I remember sprinting off the line when the gun fired and running out of steam two miles in. The first thing I asked my babysitter (Mrs. April) when I regained my composure was if we could come back next week and run it again. I was hooked.
Some people refuse to believe me when I tell them I used to smoke a pack of Camel Lights a day. By the time I relocated back to Central Virginia from New York I’d managed to kick the habit and replace it with running, so the people that met me upon my return have only known me as a non-smoker. Over that time running has become increasingly central to my life and central to my identity, to the point that it seems incredible to some that I could have ever been an occasional smoker, never mind a habitual one.
Our brains are flexible and adaptable organs. Just as you can strengthen and shape your muscles, your brain can be molded--changing and adapting to what you throw at it over the course of your life. Exercise plays a crucial role in keeping our brain strong and resilient by optimizing the way it functions.
It’s easy to get in the mindset of just “getting through the miles” when marathon training. What that sometimes leads to for me is sloppy form. Strength training has made me more aware of the muscles I’m using when I’m running and has reminded me to use muscles that I wasn’t. Because of this I simply feel stronger and have more fun. - Ashley Twiggs, currently training for her 2nd marathon
The classes challenged my running capabilities and for the first time ever I felt like I was running efficiently . . . I learned that each exercise and each movement had a reason behind it and my speeds improved as I went to more classes. I moved out of the post-college fitness slump and can now say I’m probably in the best shape of my life.
It has almost become cliché to say that runners should strength train. So then I ask, are you a runner who is strength training consistently (2-3 times a week)? If the answer is “hmmm, no,” you might not fully understand all of the amazing benefits we get from strength training. Let me break it down for you.
This year, I ran my second race and completed my first Tough Mudder - both things that were out of the question a few years ago. I feel stronger, and more confident in what my body is capable of. Most of all, I have energy. I am up at 5:00am to make it to class (a wonder in and of itself, for me!) and feel energized and ready for the day afterwards.
Incorporating consistent strength training into my training as a competitive runner is a relatively new development. Anybody who's talked training with me recently knows how adamant I am about the importance of strength training for runners, but I had to travel a long (and occasionally painful) road to obtain that knowledge.
As I was improving my strength and endurance, their guidance in the classes made me realize that I also needed to work on my form and my focus. Within one month I was participating in up to 5 classes each week. 4 months later I feel like I've gone back to the person I was years ago, when running and exercise made me feel confident, fit, and energized rather than exhausted and unhealthy.
"Runners Love Yoga" instructor Ann Mazur spent last Sunday recovering from the Shamrock Half (where she got a 2-minute PR!) but she'll be back in the studio this Sunday at 3:00 PM.
". . . to get good at our sport of running, it's really all about the cumulative effects of consistent training over time."
In the clip below Ann demonstrates her five favorite stretches to get at the muscles surrounding the hip joint. These exercises are easy to do at home and are a great way to get around the stiffness that can occur after intense periods of exercise.
I was sure that there was another level I could get to if I could dial my nutrition in further. So I decided, in the interest of science, to put myself through a pair of hard workouts on the Woodway; the first I would do having eaten “whatever I wanted” the night before, and the second having followed a day of dietary prescriptions from Ann.