Howdy and a very happy Motivation Monday to you!
I have been reflecting a bit on what changes recently have made the biggest improvements to my running and overall well-being.
After doing lots (and I mean LOTS) of reading and podcast stalking as well as quizzing my running friends about their habits then experimenting with all of this information in my own ways, I have felt better and better. These past few months have been a delicious learning curve for which I am so thankful, despite a couple of injuries and missed races.
Looking at all of this I see seven distinct changes or additions to my routine, seven things I think will stick around a long time. Five of these are outward or straight up physical; two are more in my head or even… spiritual.
I am a sucker for lists and reflections like this from other people, so hopefully you’ll find this interesting. My plan is to write a separate post about each one, beginning tonight with the first, dynamic warm ups.
7 Simple Improvements to Running
- Dynamic Warm Ups before every single run, no matter what.
- Tweaks in Running Form (thanks again Mickey!)
- Longer, more mindful stretching cool-downs
- Abs, Glutes, & Hips! Actually all sorts of cross training, but especially core work.
- Diet Improvements, especially migrating toward the “Queen-Princess-Pauper” pattern.
- Intuitive Living, all the things we do daily to re-learn how to trust our own bodies
- Attitude and Outlook! Gratitude every day, for every mile, no matter what.
Dynamic Warm Ups:
The very first event I ever ran was in the autumn of 2012, a 5k Zombie Bolt, which I convinced my then brand-new friend Trisha to run also. It was SUCH fun and definitely had a lot to do with me getting hooked on running, on races, just all of it. I also got a bit hooked on Trisha. She is a spectacular human being.
This day was also my first introduction to dynamic warm ups, though I didn’t know they were called that: As we walked around before the actual run, I noticed two men dressed head to toe in neon running gear, performing these wild leg swings and exaggerated high knee kicks, plus a series of other bizarre activities that were completely foreign to me. “Umm, what the heck? Do they think this is the Olympics? That’s so dumb.”
I sort of thought it was dumb and was also secretly fascinated. I assumed they were just very serious runners and was happy that we were just there for some zombies and silliness.
The moment stuck with me, and five years later I finally understand what the heck they were doing: They were giving their bodies a simple dynamic warm up to prevent injury. Because YES even a quick little 3-mile run has the potential to do some damage to a cold, stiff body, and injuries can plant you on the couch quickly. No runner, whether serious or not, likes to be kept from running.
In recent weeks I have discovered that most runner neglect this to their own peril. I have also learned that had I been doing more warming up I might have avoided some ligament strains.
My warm up routine is based on one I found by Kara Goucher:
- Leg swings
- Lateral twisting squats
- Butt kicks
- High knees
- Fire hydrants
It only takes a few minutes. And besides waking up my joints and large muscles, this ritual also helps me feel excited for the run. I check in with my body overall (injuries, energy level, gratitude for a million healthy things) then mentally set my intention for whatever miles are planned (am I angry, sad, happy, do I have a decision to make and pray about, a party or menu to plan, did I dream something weird last night that needs to be sorted out, etc), and I get my music going. These pre-run minutes have become wonderfully fruitful.
Do I actually feel different while running after doing this? YES! Much looser and sort of… yummy. Even my upper body feels more relaxed. Another measurable benefit is that after that injury I was able to inch back into a sturdy weekly mileage using these warm ups. A mile or two the first day, then more and more, steadily, comfortably. It was like heaven. Right now I am running maybe 33-40 miles per week, always warming up first, and feel great.
Okay, confession: If I am at a public trail or in a parking lot, sometimes I feel goofy doing the warm up, like maybe someone will notice and regard me the way I regarded those guys five years ago, “GAH! Does she think she’s in the Olympics? That’s so dumb!” But oh well. I would rather look silly to a stranger than be sad on the couch, nursing a preventable injury.
So that is my first improvement lately, and I am pretty happy about the results. See you soon for thoughts on running form.
“If you don’t have time for the little things,
you don’t have time for running.”