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

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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 September 8, 2021

        10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

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        10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

        “You can have results or excuses. Not both.” – Anonymous

        Human beings tend to only ever do as much as they absolutely need to.

        Motivational speakers call this innate trait laziness, biologists call it efficiency. Either way, the fact remains: we are evolutionary wired to minimize time and energy wherever possible.

        And this is not necessarily a bad thing. If we weren’t wired this way, we probably wouldn’t have survived this long as a species.

        Back in our caveman days, before supermarkets, calories were worth their weight in gold. For cavemen, trying to actively burn off calories would have spelled certain death.

        In this light, our fitness excuses make total sense. Our reptilian brain comes up with believable sounding rationalizations to stop us from burning off our precious calories; to minimize time and energy.

        Unfortunately, due to our present access to highly calorific foods, the fitness excuses that once ensured our survival, now send us to an early grave.

        Below I’ve provided the 10 most common fitness excuses our reptilian minds trick us into believing and why, ultimately, they’re all nonsense.

        1. I don’t have enough time.

        This is probably the most common fitness excuse of them all.

        First off, when you say you don’t have enough time, what you’re really saying is “I don’t have enough time for that”. 

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        Do you really think that if you were to add up all the time you spend watching TV and surfing the web throughout the average week you couldn’t replace any of it with a workout?

        A 30 minute workout takes up 2% of your day.

        Don’t ask yourself how much time you’re going to waste by working out a few times a week. Ask yourself how much of your life you’re going to waste being unfit and overweight.

        2. I’m way too tired to workout.

        Your mind, when it comes to exercising, is like a spoiled child. If you give in to its demands without a fight, it will see weakness and prey on it often.

        If you miss one planned session, you’re much more likely to miss the next. The biggest journey always starts with one step and the biggest failings always start with one step backwards.

        You need to show your mind who’s boss. You won’t always have lots of energy when you go to the gym but that doesn’t matter. The only thing that counts is showing up and giving it a shot.

        If you’re too tired to workout, change your sleeping habits, not your workout habits.

        3. But exercise is so boring!

        You don’t want to exercise because it’s boring?

        So you find brushing your teeth, taking showers, styling your hair and getting dressed highly entertaining? No. We do these things because we have to. We accept them as part of life.

        The people who never miss a workout are the ones who view it just like brushing their teeth. Complaining about it is just pointless. To be successful sometimes you’ve got to do things that aren’t as fun as watching your favorite TV show. That’s just life.

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        If don’t enjoy your workouts, you don’t stop working out, you just workout differently. Try crossfit, martial arts, hiking, body building, powerlifting, running, or swimming. Try music. Try anything, but keep showing up.

        4. I have no motivation to workout.

        If you think you need motivation to train you’re already half beat.

        What you really need is meta motivation: the motivation to train even when you’re not motivated. If you rely on your feelings to decide whether to workout or not, you never will. As you know, your feelings are designed to keep you caged up in your comfort pit.  Your feelings want you to be safe, not successful.

        That said, there is a trick you can use to get yourself motivated to workout, and it’s  backed up with research. It’s called ‘the few minutes’ principle.

        The basic idea is that procrastinators often put off doing certain things because the size of the task in front of them seems too overwhelming. By deciding to just go to the gym for a ‘few minutes’ you’ll often see the workout through to completion.

        Are you motivated enough to train for two minutes? That’s all you need.

        5. I have kids to look after.

        One day your kids might have someone to look after too: you.

        Don’t burden them with an ill parent when they have their own kids to look after. And don’t be the kind of parent who tells their kids exercise is good for them but doesn’t follow their own advice. Kids are smarter than that.

        If you’re really struggling with managing your fitness and your kids, combine the two. Find a field and play frisbee for a few hours, go swimming, take a walk around the lake and feed some ducks. There are so many fun and cheap ways to exercise with your kids, the only limits are your imagination.

        You kids should be your biggest reason to exercise, not your biggest excuse.

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        6. I don’t have anyone to train with.

        What you’re really saying with this fitness excuse is that you don’t have anyone to talk with while you train. If you’re training properly, you won’t need to talk.

        Don’t get me wrong, having a training partner is great but here’s what you’ve got to understand: most people first meet their training partners at the gym. The reason you probably don’t have anyone to train with is because you don’t have many friends who train. Like attracts like.

        By becoming someone who regularly trains, you’ll start attracting people into your life who also value health and fitness. You have to earn your training partners, they don’t come free.

        7. I don’t feel very well.

        After you get into the habit of overriding your fitness excuses and working out regularly, the thought of missing a workout starts to drive you insane. When I broke my jaw in two places the doctors told me I couldn’t lift heavy weights for three months. What did I do? I lifted light weights instead. Train smart, not hard.

        At some point in our lives we’ve all pretended to be ill so we could skip a day of school. Some of the better actors among us probably blurred the lines in their mind between real symptoms and those imagined. It’s easy to exaggerate things when it fits our agenda.

        If you’re really sick, I don’t recommend you train. But feeling a bit tired or achy – that’s no reason to skip a workout.

        8. The gym is too expensive or far.

        If you think you need a gym to achieve your fitness goals, you’ve been seriously misled.

        The world is your fitness playground. Ever watched a training scene from a Rocky movie? He chases chickens, runs up steps, punches meat, and chops wood. Many people cite these scenes as their favorite.  Something about training dirty and raw resonates deep within us.

        There are whole fitness subcultures dedicated to working out outdoors, and without formal equipment. Ever heard of Calisthenics, Tai Chi, Yoga or Parkour? Look them up.

        If you want to put on muscle, try some typical strongman training like chopping wood, flipping tires, lifting barrels. Remember, if it’s important enough to you, you’ll find a way. Arnold Schwarzenegger made his own gym equipment out of chairs and sticks for the first year he trained. He claims he gained 25 pounds of muscle from doing this.

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        9. I don’t know how to train properly.

        If you’re reading this article, you’re obviously more than capable of figuring this out. The internet is brimming with routines and training tips. This site alone will give you more than you need. Read these 10 tips for better workouts, perfect for beginners.

        However, it’s important that you don’t get too engulfed in the theory of ‘training properly’. Like most things in life, you learn best on the job. Ask people in the gym to show you how to use proper technique, then practice through action.

        People love giving out tips. You might even get a training partner out of it.

        10. I feel intimidated by the fit people there.

        This is normal and everyone has this when they first start out. The environment is new, everyone there looks like they know what they’re doing. You feel like you’re in someone else’s home.

        The number one reason you feel intimidated when you go to the gym is because you don’t go enough! If you started going regularly you’d get used to the place, the people and your fitness would improve. Everyone knows training improves your confidence. Just stick with it. It’s something you’ll laugh at a few months down the line.

        Anyone can get in great shape. Anyone can become fit. But very few people ever do because they give in to their natural inclination to minimize time and effort.

        Stop making excuses and just stick with it for two months. After that you’ll be finding excuses to workout even when you do have important stuff to get on with.

        Featured photo credit: United Artists, Chartoff-Winkler Productions via Rocky (1976)

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