My Least Favorite Part of Long-Distance Running

least-favorite-part-long-distance-runningRemember when I wrote that I was going to run my own half marathon around Boston on a random weekday because I wanted something to train for but didn’t want to give up a weekend to race? I posted my eight-week training plan…eleven weeks ago.

I didn’t give up though! I’m still going to run the damn thing, it’s just going to take a while to get there because I keep taking weeks off. Why? Well, at about week three I was reminded of the one thing I hate about long-distance running: you have to put other types of fitness on hold. Not completely, but you certainly have to make running the priority and dial down the frequency of other workouts.

That just does not work for me. In addition to teaching them, I like to take three classes a week at Btone. I also like to get in a couple HIIT workouts each week at home, using kettlebells, med balls—all that fun stuff. I like to go to spin classes. I like trying out new studios and getting in the occasional yoga session. Try doing all that variety and then running a distance over four miles. It’s brutal—my legs were feeling like lead every time I headed out for a long run, and my pace was glacial.

On weeks I’ve done a lot of other workouts, I’ve just been skipping the long run. When a week comes up that’s been light with the strength training, I’ll get in a long run. I’d say at this pace, I’ll run my half a month from now. Oh well.

So, question for my serious runners out there—is there any way to keep up the frequency of my other workouts while still feeling fresh-legged for long runs? Or do I just need to suck it up for training and focus on running?

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My Stretching Routine for Long Runs (Warm-Up & Cool-Down)

running-warm-up-cool-down-stretching-10Stretching is, oddly enough, a pretty controversial topic in the fitness community. What stretches are safe, when you should do them, if you should stretch at all—I’ve heard and read countless different opinions on what’s best, so I want to emphasize that this is my stretching routine for long-distance runs. I’m not saying it’s best or necessarily right for you. Here are some facts about stretching (that I believe to be true) that explain why:

  • Stretching after your workout is more important than stretching before your workout. This is, to a certain extent, going to depend on the type of workout you’re doing. This also applies more to traditional, static stretching (holding a stretch for 30+ seconds) than to dynamic stretching. I think a warm-up is important before long runs, but I actually don’t think you should do static stretching at all until after. This isn’t just based on my personal experience either; there are studies showing that muscles can’t reach peak performance levels during a workout if they’ve been stretched beforehand.
  • Only stretch tight muscles. This applies to static stretching and self-myofascial release (foam rolling). I like to dynamically stretch/warm-up all the muscles that are going to be used in my workout, but when it comes to really getting deep into post-run stretching and foam rolling, I just focus on the tight muscles. I could launch into a whole essay on muscle imbalances to explain more of the logic behind this, but I think that might actually deserve its own blog post. My calves are always exceptionally tight after long runs, so I focus a lot on them. And I only do the quad stretch pictured below if they’re tight from the previous day’s workout—otherwise I just focus on my hamstrings (always a little tight!).

So keeping all that in mind, here’s what I do before and after a long run (for me, a non-marathoner, I consider a long run to be anything over 5 miles):

warm-up-cool-down-routine-running

PRE-RUN: DYNAMIC STRETCHING

I think of dynamic stretching as getting the blood flowing and warming up the muscles that are about to be worked. It’s continuous motion around a joint, as opposed to holding a stretch/position, and I typically do 10-20 reps of each movement (20 for the toe touches, calf pedaling, high knees, butt kickers; 10 for the hip circles, 5 in each direction). 

POST-RUN: STATIC STRETCHING

This is “stretching” as people typically think of it. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds in order for it to be effective. 

POST-RUN: FOAM ROLLING

My calves are always tight so I make sure to foam roll ‘em out. With the roller under my calf, I cross the foot on top of it, brace my bodyweight on my hands, and slowly roll up and down my calf. When I hit a tight spot (you know when you do)—I hold it there for at least 30 seconds, then continue to roll until I’ve hit all the little knots.

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Three quick notes about my stretching routine that someone would probably call me out on if I weren’t to address them now…

1. I’m not warming up or stretching my upper body. I know—in an ideal world, I probably would. But I wanted to share what I actually do, and on most days, I don’t feel like stretching at all so just focus on the primary muscles used (running = lower body).

2. I’m statically stretching before foam rolling. I know that NASM and lots of fitness professionals advice foam rolling first in order to make the static stretching more effective (basically break up the knots first so that you can get deeper into the static stretch). I actually do see the benefit of that, but when it comes to my calves, I feel like my static stretching is limited more by the range of my ankle bones than my muscles, so I save the foam rolling for last (more convenient).

3. I should stretch/foam roll my IT/TFL bands—a typically tight area for runners. I know. But I’d be a big fat liar if I included it in this post because I never do. That’s what my weekly yoga class is for…right? ;)

If you’re wondering how this differs from my stretching routine for my short runs, it’s simple: I don’t stretch if I’m just heading out for a quick 3 or 4 miles. I KNOW. I should. But there are only 24 hours in a day…and I am lazy.

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WEARING | jacket: c/o Lands’ End / shorts: c/o Cory Vines / sneakers: c/o Puma

I got the chance to team up with the awesome people over at Lands’ End and wear their Performance Sport Jacket in this post. I also have it in pink and blue color-block, and love both! I think the attached hood with a high-neck collar is a cool look, and you can never go wrong with thumbholes—am I right or amiright.

The looser fit was great for adding layers this winter, and I’ve now been wearing it with just a tank and shorts for cooler morning runs this spring. Lands’ End now has a whole activewear line, so be sure to check out these jackets as well as all their other gear!

Tell me about your post/pre-run stretching routine! How does it compare to mine? I know there are lots of different opinions on stretching, and even if you think my routine is stupid and misinformed, I want to hear about it—drop some knowledge in the comments section! :)

And I can’t not leave you with this (because honestly isn’t this how we all feel??)…

ain't nobody got time

Amen, gurlfriend.

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A Barry’s Bootcamp-Inspired Hotel Gym Workout

Barry's Bootcamp-Inspired Hotel Gym Workout--treadmill intervals & strength training intervalsFirst off, I loved reading all your comments on yesterday’s post—so many great suggestions for new workouts and blog topics! I’ve added all of them to my to-do list. And I was especially excited to see a few of you wanted to know more about Btone and the classes I teach there. I’ve tried not to talk too much about it on the blog because I know most of you guys aren’t in Boston or an area that offers Megaformer classes, but now I’m definitely going to dedicate a few posts to explaining more about this uh-mazing workout. As for today’s…

While in Mexico, I ate a lot, drank a lot, slept a lot, sunbathed a lot—but wasn’t a total slob (well, if the breakfast buffet could talk, it might say otherwise). I worked out a couple times at the resort’s gym, and wanted to share what I did the first day with you guys because it was actually a real ass-kicker. My boyfriend and I decided to do a Barry’s Bootcamp-inspired workout, mixing treadmill intervals with strength training. He’d do eight minutes on the treadmill while I was doing strength training, then we’d switch; doing this twice for a 32-minute workout. The majority of my strength training intervals were bodyweight exercises, but he did some crazy-looking dumbbell boxing thing. Here’s what I did:

Barry’s Bootcamp-Inspired Hotel Gym Workout

Equipment I Used:

  • Treadmill
  • Two 10-lb dumbbells
  • Exercise mat

As a reference, the treadmill I was using had a speed max of 12mph and an incline max of 15%. It also really really didn’t want me to workout:

Lazy treadmill aside, let’s get to the workout breakdown. Check out the picture tutorial then read the full description below for any needed clarification.

Think of this workout as being broken into four sections:

  1. 8-minute AMRAP focusing on lower-body muscle groups
  2. 8-minute treadmill hill workout
  3. 8-minute AMRAP focusing on core
  4. 8-minute treadmill sprinting workout

Barry's Bootcamp-Inspired Hotel Gym Workout--treadmill intervals & strength training intervals

8-Minute AMRAP (Lower Body)

Do as many rounds of the following exercise circuit as you can in 8 minutes. Try not to take any breaks; push yourself as hard as you can without sacrificing proper form.

  • 10 Burpees:The whole burpee sequence will look like this: squat down placing hands on the ground; jump back into plank position; jump legs back up towards hand; stand back into squat position; jump up with arms overhead.
  • 10 Squat Pulse Jumps: Squat down, sending hips back like you’re sitting in a chair. Jump up, coming out of the squat and into the air. Land back down softly, sinking right back down into that deep squat position. Staying low, do 3 squat pulses, up a couple inches, down a couple inches. That’s one rep. Go right into your next jump.
  • 10 Pivoting Lunges (each side):Holding a kettlebell in each hand, lunge forward onto one foot and then pushing off that front foot, come back upright and immediately step it back into a lunge. The other foot stays planted on the ground in the same position as you lunge forward and backward, back and forth. Hold a 10-lb dumbbell (or appropriate weight for your fitness level) in each hand.

8-Minute Treadmill Hill Workout

Adjust the speeds listed below to your fitness level, but try to stick to the incline changes.

  • [Min 0-1] 5 mph @ 5% incline
  • [Min 1-2] 6 mph @ 7.5% incline
  • [Min 2-3] 7 mph @ 10% incline
  • [Min 3-4] 6 mph @ 10% incline
  • [Min 4-5] 5 mph @ 10% incline
  • [Min 5-6] 5 mph @ 7.5% incline
  • [Min 6-7] 5 mph @ 5% incline
  • [Min 7-8] 7 mph @ 15% incline

8-Minute AMRAP (Core)

Do as many rounds of the following exercise circuit as you can in 8 minutes. Try not to take any breaks; push yourself as hard as you can without sacrificing proper form.

  • 50 Bicycle Crunches:Lay on back, hands behind head. When you crunch up towards your bent left knee, your right leg should be extended out and not touching the ground. Switch sides, crunching over towards the right with your left leg extended. Continue in a fluid, cycling motion.
  • 10 Windshield Wipers:Lay on back, legs perpendicular to the ground and arms outstretched for support. Lower your legs to the right, twisting your hips, until they are just hovering above the ground. Lift back to starting position and over to the left side. Continue back and forth in a windshield-wiper motion.
  • 10 Hip Dip Forearm Planks:Start in an elbow plank position. Keeping shoulders level, twist your torso to lower your right hip to the floor. Return to plank position and then twist the other way, lowering your right hip to the floor.
  • 10 Sawing Forearm Planks: Go right into these from the hip dips; don’t come out of the plank position. Get into an elbow plank position. Rock forward, pointing your feet, and then back, flexing them. Keep core tight and body straight throughout the movement.
  • 5 V-Up Crunches:Start on your back with arms stretched out overhead and legs hovering just slightly above the ground. You’ll then crunch up, bringing your hands towards your toes (keeping legs and arms straight). When done correctly, your body will make a “v” shape as you crunch; this means you’re not just reaching your arms up, your chest needs to move towards your knees. Lower back down to starting position. If possible, your feet should never touch the ground.

8-Minute Treadmill Sprint Workout

Stay on 0% incline the whole time. Adjust the speeds listed to your fitness level, but try to stay in a -2/+2 range if possible.

  • [Min 0-1] 6 mph
  • [Min 1-2] 7 mph
  • [Min 2-3] 8 mph
  • [Min 3-4] 10 mph
  • [Min 4-5] 6 mph
  • [Min 5-6] 10 mph
  • [Min 6-7] 6 mph
  • [Min 7-8] 10.5 mph

At Barry’s, on those amazing Woodway treadmills, I can max out closer to 12 mph when sprinting, but on the one at the resort I felt like I was dying at 10.5. Couldn’t have gone .0001mph faster if I tried.

Barry's Bootcamp-Inspired Hotel Gym Workout--treadmill intervals & strength training intervals

WEARING | shorts: Lululemon / tank: H&M / sneakers: Nike Free +3

Have you guys ever done Barry’s Bootcamp? They opened a location in Boston this fall and it’s suuuuuch a good workout. I don’t get in for classes as often as I’d like, but have been trying to make it to one every week or two. They’re longer (and harder) than this workout I’ve posted, which is just loosely based off Barry’s, so definitely try out the real thing if you have a studio in your area!

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