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Want to Start Running? See if You’re Ready to hit the Pavement

Want to Start Running? See if You’re Ready to hit the Pavement

New running shoes? Check. Hamstring stretches? Check. Crazy-expensive socks designed to prevent blisters? Check. You’ve got the gear and you’re resolved to get out the door and start a running program. However, despite your strong desire to be like Meb, don’t start pounding the pavement just yet.

Before you begin a running program, you need to know if your body is ready for this high-impact exercise. Running isn’t just about endurance; you need strength to run. Performing the strength test below is a great way to determine if you’re strong enough to starting running.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1) An exercise mat

2) A timer

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3) A step (a step stool will do just fine)

Start by going for a 10-minute walk to warm up. Then perform each exercise below for one minute in the order listed.

1) Forward lunge, knee up: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Step forward with your right foot, then sink down into a lunge. From this lunged position, push up on your right leg and bring your left leg forward into a knee-up. Step your left foot back to where it started and sink into the lunge again. After a few minutes, you should feel this in your right hip and right glute. If you feel this in your quadriceps (front leg muscle) or have any knee pain, focus on keeping your knee behind your toe as you lunge and your right knee turned slightly outward so that you’ll engage your gluteal muscles.

After one minute on one side, rest, and switch sides.

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    2) Mini-hops: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and hop just slightly above the ground. There’s no need to go super high. Just a slight hop will do.

    3) Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Stick your rear back, keep your chest up, and sit back like you’re going to sit in a chair. Just like in the first exercise, you should feel this in your gluteals. Strong gluteal muscles are essential for injury-free running, so if you can’t keep proper form, you likely aren’t ready to run yet. Until you’re stronger, you can hold onto a steady object (e.g., a chair, the back of the couch, etc.) to give yourself some stability while you master this move.

    4) Football feet: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Shuffle your feet up and down quickly. Move to right, to the left, or stay in the middle. You can do any type of football feet you like as long as you just keep moving.

    5) Birddog crunch: On your mat, start on all fours. Tighten your core and make your back flat. Tuck in your left arm as you bring your right leg toward your stomach into a crunch motion while keeping your back flat. Then extend your arm back out to be straight while you also straighten your leg. After one minute on one side, rest, and switch sides.

    6) Side V-up: Lie down on your right side with your right arm straight in front of you. Lean slightly back on your butt; keep your legs straight and crunch up, making a V, and then come back down. After your 30 seconds are done, rest, and switch sides.

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      7) Side plank: Lie down on your right side with your legs straight out. Stack your left foot on top of your right foot. Rise up onto your right elbow, while keeping your feet stacked on top of each other and your body in a straight line. After your 30 seconds are done, rest, and switch sides.

      8) Plank dog: Start in a plank position. Make sure your body is in a straight line. Press back into downward dog (i.e., making an upside-down V with your body) and bring back one of your hands to touch the opposite shin. Go back into plank, on the next downward dog, and switch arms.

      9) Bridge kicks: Lie on your back. Place your feet on the floor so that they are a couple of inches from your butt. Tighten your core and raise your butt off the floor. Keep your butt tight while you lift your legs one at a time. Is your butt dropping? Tighten it up; it needs to be level.

      10) Side steps: Stand with your legs shoulder width apart. Stick your butt back and go into a squat, keeping your chest raised. If you can’t see your feet, you aren’t sitting back far enough. You should be able to wiggle your toes. Once you’re in a good position, step to the side while holding this position for 10 steps (or as far as your living room will allow), then go back. Think about keeping your nose level as you move across the floor. (If you want to add an additional challenge, you can place an elastic exercise band around the lower legs.)

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      11) Heel raises: Stand with legs shoulder width apart with your feet straight ahead. Rise up onto the balls of your feet, then lift one foot and sink down slowly onto the foot still on the ground. Focus on bringing your arch to the floor last. After one minute on one side, rest, and switch sides.

      12) Mountain climbers: Start in a plank. Remember your butt should be in alignment with your back and shoulders. Alternating knees, bring each knee into your chest in a quick motion, like you’re climbing rapidly up a mountain. (Disclaimer: Nobody actually climbs a mountain like this, unless they want to die.) Keep your butt aligned; don’t let it pop up.

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        How did you do? Were you able to perform each of the 12 exercises for one minute, while maintaining great form, without having to take a break? If so, great – you’re ready to start running.

        If you’re struggling through these movements or need frequent breaks, you’re not ready; you’ll only risk injury if you start a running program. However, don’t worry. Every time you do this strength test, you’ll get stronger. If you are suffering pain after running due to plantar fasciitis, my article on how to choose the best shoes for plantar fasciitis is for you. Remember to do this routine up to five times a week and build up to completing the test successfully. Once you can, you can feel confident as you head out the door and begin your running program.

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        Last Updated on January 14, 2019

        7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

        7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

        From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

        What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

        1. Take the scenic route.

        Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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        Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

        2. Distract yourself.

        No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

        3. Listen to music or podcasts.

        There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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        4. Bring a friend.

        Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

        Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

        5. Accessorize.

        There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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        For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

        6. Compete.

        A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

        7. Relax.

        The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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        With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

        Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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