It's that time of year again when we all get excited to head outdoors for our daily sweat. Whether we are on our bikes, running or taking in an outdoor bootcamp there is no better workout, in my opinion than one outside. For myself running has been my passion and sport for as long as I can remember. I was a Varsity athlete at the University of Alberta running for the Pandas on the Cross Country team and continue to compete racing various distances, anywhere from a half marathon, marathon to 50 km. Today I am sharing with you my struggles, learnings and tips to keep your body in running shape all year round.
Personally I struggle with taking a day off and truth be told I still do. But when it comes to running, taking days off is so important for longevity and for training. When I got out of university and moved to calgary, I ran every single day. 7 days a week - whether I was sick, hungover, fatigued, it didn't matter I made myself run for whatever reason (I was crazy). It didn't take long for my body to fail on me and make me miss some big marathons I was training for. I was getting ready to run the NYC marathon and my body would not heal and I could not get my mileage up because at the 15km mark my left knee was in so much pain. so I gave my body a break from running which mentally was such a challenge but led me to an incredible learning. I was always pretty committed to yoga even throughout University to help maintain my body, strengthen my core and prevent injuries, but this injury led me to practise yoga in a different way. I was no longer going to yoga when I was tired because had already ran that day. I was going to yoga, building strength and flexibility in ways my body never attempted before. I use to always go into class and have excuses going through my head that "I'm a runner" so I couldn't do this or that. Yoga is a runners best friend - I built so much strength in my core, lower back, glutes and of course helps with flexibility that when I got back on the trails, my body was so much stronger.
You need days off as a runner. Your legs need rest so the next time you go out to run you are strong, rested and don't have those heavy legs that will slow you down. I have now found so many other ways to stay in running shape without pounding on the body and joints every single day. Throughout my week especially at this time of year I commit to 3 days of running - one day that is shorter (for me that is a 10-12km distance) one day of hills or stairs and then over the weekend I make sure to get my long run in and increase my mileage as I head into race season. I don't have a strict schedule as to what days I do this in, just as long as I get them in.
The pictures above are myself and a good friend who is one of my sidekicks especially on my hill workouts. We always add in a bit of upper body and core on our hill days to make it a bit more exciting. On Thursday we ran the memorial stairs then added in a few hill repeats - this location is ideal because it offers both stairs and hills and lot's of options on the top to add in some other exercises. At the top of each set we add in tricep dips, push ups and some plank work, rotating through so you just have one exercise to do when you hit the top. Hill workouts are best done with a buddy because you never want to be the one to bail :) Hold each other accountable, set a goal at the beginning and together you push to hit it! Another one of our favourite locations here in YYC is the Edworthy hill. It is exactly 1km up - we always get 5 in so you get a 10 km run in and the training up is obviously very beneficial but the 1km downhill is also very good for training especially if you are about to tackle some trail runs this season.
One of the biggest things I have learned over the years is how important other workouts are to compliment your running. Along with yoga I teach spin so I have the opportunity to get in some killer spin classes throughout my week which have been incredible for my running. Spinning taps into a completely different system - I can run for hours at a great pace and my lungs will always be strong, now working that bike has challenged me to be strong and explosive getting a lot of work into a 50 minute class! Throughout the summer I also spend a lot of time on my road bike to give my joints a break and cover a lot of miles on the road. Throughout the summer ideally I would do a long run on Saturday morning and then on Sunday I would be out on my road bike.
Barre classes have also been a part of my routine over the past year. Most long distance runners are lean and want to be that way to run long distances. This is why barre classes are so incredible for runners - you work your glutes in a way you've never done before. With running being such a repetitive movement it is so important to strengthen those muscles that get neglected from running. Barre classes train you to trigger those little glute muscles you didn't know you have to make you stronger and also prevent injury! So yes if you are a runner you probably have tight hips and won't be the most elegant person in class but I promise you it is one of the best ways to stay strong and lean. Oh and barre also give you a fabulous booty lift;)
Also any type of circuit type class is my other go to workout. Here in YYC I hit up 2110 fitness 1-2 times per week and also teach and take classes at studio revolution. Both of these studios provide a lot of core work, TRX, kettle bells and a great combination of cardio and weights. These classes are ideal because you can take a 45 minute class which is such a small part of your day and get a strong total body workout in.
I get a lot of questions from people who are about to run their first full or half marathon about what to wear. Honestly I have been running in the same pieces from lululemon for a very long time and am still pretty darn loyal to it. Lindsey and I above are wearing two of my favourite outfits depending on weather. I am wearing (on the left) a pair of run inspire crops and swiftly tank top from lululemon. In the mornings with races being a bit chillier I always have a swiftly long sleeve on top and then wrap around my waist if needed throughout the run. It is such a light weight fabric that it doesn't bother me one bit being wrapped around. In my mind as a runner you can never have enough run inspire crops or swiftly tanks and long sleeves.
Lindsey (on the right) is wearing the run speed short *4 way stretch and 105 F singlet also from lululemon. both of these pieces are perfect to race and train in. The singlet is a bit looser then my swiftly tank top making it not as comfortable to layer the swiftly long sleeve over it without it bunching, therefore lindsey is wearing a looser fitting half zip from luluemon that was a part of their 2014 season. Although they always have something similar in their run line to choose from.
Now for the shoes! This is very personal depending on a lot of things (I recommend getting properly fitted at a run shop) but if I were to suggest a runner it would be the Brooks Pure Grit running shoe. The ones above are the trail shoe and this exact shoe comes in a road version as well. Honestly I have both the trail and road shoe because I train both and race both. I continue to buy this exact shoe year after year and it has yet to disappoint.
My last tip is to make running fun! Find a friend, sister, brother or whoever to train and run with. Growing up my sister, mom and I picked cities we wanted to visit and always made a little shopping trip out of it. It was an excuse for a getaway and run a race. There are also lot's of running groups here in YYC to check out as well and a great place to meet new running buddies. Check out a few below if you are looking for a starting point and a group to get ya motivated.
Don't be afraid to fire me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions at all or looking for a running buddy! I can give you great running routes, trails, races, outdoor workouts and suggest many great studios and classes in the city. Happy running and I hope you all get a chance to tackle a race or two this season:)