Race training plans are a big undertaking. To make this undertaking more manageable we can do things to prep our bodies before we officially start our training.
Before you start a training plan, it is a smart idea to start moving. Hopefully you are already running a few miles. If you aren’t running a few miles then hopefully you have a very physical job. For many people with desk jobs who haven’t already been running, here are some ways to prep your body so it is ready to take on the training.
Start exercising 3-4 days a week. This pre training exercise can be walking, light running, cycling, or anything that gets us up and moving. If you haven’t done any exercising in the last few months, let’s start with a 10 minute exercise target each session the first week and then add 5 minutes each consecutive week till you are up to 30 minutes of moving. You can walk, jog or frolick the entire time. The point of this pre training is to ease your body into motion. After a few weeks of pre training you will have a much easier time to start your official training plan. Before we start our real training plan, we want to make sure our body can comfortably handle 20 minutes of brisk moving.
Power Up Those Legs
There are some good exercises you can do to help boost your legs to get them prepared for your training. These exercises will help get you ready to transition into your training plan. Here is a set of exercises to jump start your training. Aim to follow this routine two times a week.
- Squats – 2 or 3 sets of 10
Stand in front of your couch, slowly squat over the couch as if you were going to sit down but do not sit down. We want to get within a few inches of the couch cushion before standing up. While doing this be careful that your knees do not overextend past your toes.
- Lunges- 2 sets of 10 lunges per leg
Make sure you have a clear area in front & behind you. Stand up straight. Place your hands on your hip for stability and step forward with one leg. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle. Gradually lower your hips till your legs are about 90 degree angles without your back knee touching the ground. Then gradually rise up to a standing position again. Repeat using the other leg.
- Skips – Skip for 50 feet, repeat 4 times.
On a grassy field or a clear dirt area, skip. Walk back to starting line and repeat starting with your alternate leg. Avoid doing this on concrete because it is too hard of a surface for your joints and avoid doing this on the beach because sand can be too soft of a surface causing twisted ankles.
- Foot Lifts – Lift up each foot, hold 10 seconds, repeat 10 times.
Stand up straight and lift up one foot till it is in the air next to the upper point of your calf muscle on your standing leg. Hold the foot in the air for 10 seconds. Set your foot down and repeat using your alternate foot. Do this 10 times for each foot.
Should I work on my core?
A strong core is part of a good training plan and makes for better running miles. If you are comfortable with exercising and are able to get out there 3-4 times a week for cardio, you can include the following core workout after your cardio session two times a week. If you have any questions as to how to perform a particular move,
- Plank- hold for 20- 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
Get on the floor similar to doing a push up. Place your forearms on the ground under your chest. Lift up supporting your body by your forearms and toes. Hold your body in a straight line and maintain that position for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Seems easy till you do this challenging exercise. If you think it is easy double check your body is in a straight line and that your belly isn’t slouching or your behind is too high in the air. Start with 15 seconds and each week increase till you build up to 30 seconds each plank.
- Crunches- 20 reps- 2 sets
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows sticking out. Tilt your chin towards your chest. Gently curl forward so your head and should blades leave the ground. Hold for a moment before slowly lowering your head back to the ground.
Stretching when I perform my cardio exercise
Stretching is an important part of training for your event. Although your friends and family may advise that you stretch before you start your work out, that advice is actually isn’t the best idea. It is not a good idea to stretch a “cold” muscle, which is what your muscles are prior to a workout. A smarter option is to ease into your cardio workout, starting slowly and allow the muscles to gradually warm up; once your muscles are warm, you can increase the pace to what you are targeting for that workout.
A good time to stretch is after you have warmed up your muscles with the cardio workout or strength training exercises. We do not want to bounce or strain when we are stretching. We want to feel a gentle pull and nothing should be painful. Stretching is not a competition and overdoing stretching replaces the benefits with injury risks so be smart and relax with your stretches.
What to stretch? – There are many muscles you can stretch and many different ways to stretch them. Whichever muscles you want to target, we suggest you get into a routine that starts with your feet and works up to your shoulders so you don’t forget any muscles. If you aren’t familiar with stretching go to Youtube and search the videos made by certified physical therapists so you can see how to properly and safely perform these stretches. Be careful to keep your body form the same as you see in the video to ensure you stretch your muscles just enough.