You’re psyched. You finally signed up for that half or full marathon you always wanted to, and you’ve already started training. You’re on a roll, building mileage to make sure you don’t injure yourself along the way. Louise Eriksson – CEO of Vint (think of it as Uber for fitness), a competitive marathoner, and a running trainer – has some must-follow tips for injury-free running.
Many runners gripe about issues with their knees, shins, hips, or lower backs, and aside from it being caused by changing the frequency, duration, or intensity of your runs too quickly, a lot of that has to do with muscular imbalances. When certain leg muscles are stronger than others, like the quads, they can pull on ligaments and cause discomfort or pain - especially in the knees. “[But] strong glutes keep the ligaments in your knees nice and strong and keep your body aligned,” says Louise. If shin splints are your concern, be sure to strengthen the muscles in the lower front legs with toe flutters. And since running can tone the abs, do some back-strengthening exercises to prevent muscular imbalance and pain in this area.
Balance Is Key
Running long distances tires out your legs, and it taxes dozens of small muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your feet and ankles, making this area prone to injury. The solution? Louise recommends including “balance-focused workouts in your weekly routine to strengthen your soles and ankles.” Heel walking as well as these seven exercises will strengthen the feet and ankles.
Time Over Distance
While many training schedules are focused on mileage, try not to get fixated on how fast you can run set distances. Louise says, “you’ll end up burning yourself out rather than working up to your goals.” She suggests forgetting about distance and focusing on running at a sustainable pace for set lengths of time. You can follow a training schedule that gradually builds up your mileage, but be sure to listen to your body, and attempt those longer distances as your body feels ready. And definitely don’t rush through an eight-week intermediate half-marathon training schedule when you really should be doing the beginner 16-weeker.
Try Short Distance Intervals
Sprinting intervals are not only great for targeting belly fat, but Louise says, “running really short distances (like 400 or 800 meters) as fast as you can a few times a week will get your body, heart, and lungs fitter, faster.” It also reminds you to mix up the types of runs you do to prevent sustaining injuries associated with running long distances too often.
Don’t Skip the Stretch Session
If you’re short on time, you want to spend every minute that you can building up mileage or working on speed. But make sure to leave at least 10 minutes at the end of your workout to do these essential stretches to target the hamstrings, quads, hips and hip flexors, glutes, calves, shins, and lower back. Spending some time foam rolling your IT band can also prevent knee pain. And stretching isn’t just for post-workout. Louise recommends doing “some dynamic stretch movements after your first mile of jogging before the rest of your run.” These aren’t static stretches, but rather movement-based exercises that stretch your muscles. Try high knee kicks or holding onto a tree and kicking your leg forward and back as high as you can 10 times on each side. Or try these dynamic yoga warmup moves.
For the ultimate injury-free training, hop in the pool and do some deep-water running wearing a flotation belt. Louise says when you don’t have to tread water to stay afloat, you can focus on your running form and use your arms and really activate you core and glutes. It’s super efficient and low impact!
- 12 satisfying recipes featuring spaghetti squash – POPSUGAR Food
- Why those last 5 pounds just won’t go away – Women’s Health
- Don’t drink from the water bottle sitting in your trunk – Real Simple
- 3 crazy juice cleanses you may want to skip – Shape
- 10 unexpected ways to get your pumpkin spice fix – Self
- Where to take a run-cation – Women’s Running
- Fast and nutritious sides to try tonight – Cooking Light
- Healthy cookies you can munch on for breakfast – Greatist
- Disney princesses dressed as your favorite superheroines – Love & Sex
- What Drake’s body looks like covered in emoji tattoos – Tech
- 8 essential stretches to open up tight hips – Fitness
- Taylor Swift is a not-so-secret foodie – Food
- Grab your eyeliner for this easy yet spooky Halloween look – Beauty
- Kendall Jenner takes Paris and is still winning Fashion Week – Fashion
- Halloween versatility: 1 wig, 14 iconic costume ideas – Smart Living
- 24 Halloween costumes to make from a cardboard box – Moms
- A simple hack that makes Ikea sofas look like a million bucks – Home
- 13 horror villain Halloween costumes that’ll terrify everyone – Entertainment
- Amanda Bynes has been charged with her second DUI – Celebrity & News
Elliptical trainers are a gym favorite. Not only is this cardio machine joint friendly, it’s incredibly versatile. You can go forward and backward, work your arms and legs, or focus on your core – all while getting your heart rate up. Here are some tips to help you maximize your minutes on the elliptical machine.
- If your focus is cardio: Watch your strides per minute. SPM is the number of times your legs go around in 60 seconds, a stat most ellipticals conveniently track for you. After warming up, aim to keep your strides per minute between 140 and 160. If you’re doing intervals on the elliptical, make sure your “sprints” are above 160. Here’s a great elliptical workout with sprint intervals so you can start practicing this technique.
- If your focus is toning your thighs: Pay attention to your feet. Pressing more with your heels will work your hamstrings and butt more, while pressing more with your toes will tone your quads on the front of your thighs. Pedaling backward on the machine is also a great way to tone your backside – hamstrings and glutes. Increasing the incline is another way to focus the work on your glutes. Do try this 35-minute workout that truly targets the backside.
- If you’re short on time: Use your arms and legs equally. To get more bang for your cardio buck, make sure to work your upper body along with your legs. This will help raise your heart rate into an intense, calorie-burning zone and tone your upper body too. Push the handles to work your chest and pull the handles to work your upper back and shoulders. Follow this full-body workout next time you’re on the elliptical.
- To work your core: Go hands free. Letting go of the handles on the elliptical challenges your sense of balance and targets your core. Make sure not to sway from side to side once you let go of the handles. Place your hands on your hips to monitor your posture.
Many of my AnneTheRD clients are surprised to find that I don’t own a scale. The last time I had consistent access to a scale was 10 years ago, when I was living at home briefly after college. I’ve told this to a number of my nutrition counseling clients lately who I’ve been encouraging to ditch their scales, and they are shocked. Not only shocked that I don’t have one, but shocked that, in the end, it hasn’t made any difference in my weight. But the area in which it has made a big difference? My happiness and self worth.
I’m certainly not a traditional dietitian – I don’t give my clients rigid meal plans, I encourage them to stop tracking their food/calorie counting if they are when they come to me, and, most importantly, I encourage them to ditch their scales, no matter if they are working on weight loss, maintenance, or gain.
For many of my clients and people in general, I find that the scale has become a sort of evaluator of self worth. Each morning, they step on the scale and let it tell them how their day should go. If the number is low or where they want it to be, they feel happy. In control. Like the day will be a good one. But when the number is higher than they’d like (which, it’s worth mentioning, isn’t even accurate/indicative of true gain or loss – weight fluctuates all the time for a lot of reasons!), suddenly that number becomes something else entirely. It now represents their failure. They are out of control. Worthless. Not in charge of their own lives. They now feel uncomfortable in their own skin, even if a few minutes earlier they were feeling strong and confident. Negative self talk ramps up. A good day is now a bad one, and that sentiment carries them through the day. Maybe their normal, healthy breakfast is now no longer OK because of that number, so they decide to cut back, even though they’re still hungry. Maybe that leads to overdoing it later, guiltily. Maybe this perceived failure translates into being unable to cope with stress at work. Maybe it means that something that normally wouldn’t be a big deal does become a big one.
I work with my clients using the Intuitive Eating approach, and a big part of this is encouraging them to break up with the scale. No matter how hard one works on being intuitive or mindful around food, or how much they work on self care and stress relief and positive self talk, if they are letting a number rule their lives, they will ever make progress. Recently, I’ve had success convincing a few of my clients to trash their scales. Not just hiding them upstairs or in another room – but truly getting rid of them. A few days later, they have emailed me, shocked. “I had no idea how much of my self worth was tied to that number,” they say. Or, “I’ve been able to focus on how I really actually feel rather than what a number tells me I should feel.” Or, “Intuitive eating and positive self talk have become much easier.”
I think a lot of my clients expect that if they ditch their scale, they will all of a sudden gain 20 pounds and not realize it. Or that they will be totally out of control. But actually, it’s the opposite. Since when do we need a machine to tell us if we’re where we want to be? If we feel strong and healthy? If we can kick butt at our workouts? If we’re a good friend, or doing well at our jobs, or being a good spouse/parent/whatever? You don’t need a scale to tell you any of that. When I broke up with the scale 10 years ago, guess what? Nothing happened. I didn’t suddenly lose weight, or gain weight. But I did stop worrying about it. Instead, I was able to more clearly focus on how strong my body was and how it was powering me through some awesome workouts, what foods made me feel good, and so many other things that are way more important than a number on a scale.
Don’t let a number tell you if you’re worth it, friends. And even if you aren’t ready to ditch the scale for yourself, if you have children, do it for them. No matter how much positive body image talk you share with them, they will pick up on your actions. How long will it be until they start tying that number on the scale to their self worth, too? And how can you tell them not to if you’re doing it yourself?