FitFriday: Lying Leg Throwdown

Today on FitFriday, I got a little help from Jessica (a.k.a. lacesandlattes) to demonstrate a great partner exercise. Going to the gym for most is the hardest thing to put on the priority list. Even if you get 10 minutes of gym time a day, then you’re winning. For runners, it’s absolutely important you include some kind of a strengthening routine into your week. Running alone won’t cut it. To prevent injury and strengthen the muscles around your running muscles, you should add a few simple exercises. Often times, I end my runs at the closest Goodlife gym, spend 15 minutes on some core exercises and get on with my day. It’s that simple.

Next time you go, take a friend with you and try some partner exercises. Partner exercises are great to keep each other motivated and push each other through the burn. A really fun abdominal exercise I like to do with a gym partner is the “Lying Leg Throw down”. This exercise is an excellent way to get stronger abs while also strengthening your lower back.

It’s simple:
•lay on your back with your head between your partner’s feet.
•grab your partners ankles, providing stability for your upper body and lower back.
•slowly raise your legs up and bring your feet toward your partner.
•your partner will then throw your legs away from them, while you engage your •abdominals to slow the movement, creating resistance.

repeat these steps until failure (10-15 times) and then switch positions with your partner. Each person should do up to 3 repeats of this exercise.

If you have lower back problems, do not do this exercise. Instead work on some of the plank exercises I’ve previously shown until you’re strong enough to do a more advanced exercise such as the lying leg throw down. Always see a doctor if you are concerned about starting an exercise program.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the FitFriday youtube channel to get updates on exercises you can include in your fitness routine.

Motivation Monday

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It’s been a few weeks since I last posted on a Monday. I’ve been spending time with me the last two weeks. As marathon season kicks off for most of the running community it’s nice to be a spectator for once. My relationship with the marathon is on hiatus for the moment, as some who read my blog regularly know. I find myself watching from a distance and learning more about it from the outside in.

The preparation for the marathon is long and arduous at times. I’ve always enjoyed the build up and the training, but not everyone does. The big day is nerve wracking and even if you’re 100% percent for it, the marathon gods may have other plans for you.

My marathon goal is big and I have at least a years worth of work to put in before I can even decide if I will go for it. As marathon season takes over my city, my run club and my work life, I feel more like a student taking notes and mentally taking observation from the field.

For so many this is a special time of year, so enjoy it. Have faith in your training and be honest with yourself before race day. Did you really do all of the work? Did you get in those necessary long runs even when your body was begging you to quit? If the answer if yes, there is no reason to be nervous, enjoy your taper week and toe the line with confidence. If the answer was no, adjust your goals and expectations. Fully enjoy your taper week and run for some other reason than just to chase a PB.

As most everyone is another week closer to their big race, spend these next couple of taper weeks evaluating your last 16 weeks of training. Be honest with yourself and set realistic goals even if they aren’t the ones you really want. There is always another marathon around the corner. Most importantly, enjoy the race, enjoy the moments inside the race and enjoy that moment you cross the finish line.


Fit Friday: Step Raises

For most athletes targeting your glutes can be literally a pain in the butt. Most problems I’ve come across usually originate from the glute muscles being under developed. There are so many exercises to get the job done, but the best and simplest one is Step-raises.

Like the name says, all you require is a step. That can be a flat rock in a park, a park bench, a box at the gym or even simply a set of stairs in your house. Step-raises will work the glute muscles as well strengthen the hamstrings and quads. Even more importantly, step-raises work the muscle evenly, giving you balanced tone and strength.

For beginners simply stand with your feet hip width apart and step onto the surface you have available. Squeezing the glutes keeping them engaged; pull the opposite leg up to step. Step back down to the start position and repeat 10-15 times. After you’ve completed one set, switch to the other side, doing the exercise for the same amount of repetitions.

Depending on whether you are new to an exercise routine or more advanced, start with 2 sets and work your way up to 4. If you want to make this exercise even more dynamic and include some of the smaller stabilizers muscles, follow through the step-raise by brining the knee up towards the chest. This will effectively strengthen the hip flexors, and get more of the core muscle groups involved.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the FitFriday YouTube Channel for more great fit tips every week.

Mizuno Fit Friday: The Spider Plank

Today is Fit Friday! Today on the Youtube channel I’m demonstrating a plank. I’m not the kind of person who enjoys standing still for too long, so when I do exercises I find it hard to do static exercises.

Static planks are quite popular, but they will only work the core in one plane. Adding some instability and movement to a plank will be much more effective. Not only with you will force your stabilizers to get involved, you’ll find you will save time! Doing dynamic planks will be much harder to do for a long time. My favourite dynamic plank is what I call the Spider Plank, where you incorporate the arms and the legs into the posture. Static planks are often about trying to increase the time you can stay in the pose. Dynamic planks are going to focus on how many repetitions you can do, correctly.

All planks have to start on a strong foundation. To begin any plank you want to make sure your wrists are lined up with your shoulders. This will prevent strain on your rotator cuff. Next the lower back and butt are in a neutral position. Too high the muscles are not effectively being challenged. Too low and you are putting unwanted strain on your low back, risking injury. At the feet, they should be hip width apart (sometimes wider for beginners) and make sure you keep them firmly planted to reduce your hips swaying back and forth.

For very beginners to plank, the static plank is a good way to get used to the posture. In spider plank, the beginner can alternatively start with lifting the arms off the ground, focusing on balance while things begin to get stronger.

Planks are so easy and simple so they can be done anywhere and also everyday. If you are going to start adding them to your gym routine, do 2-4 sets of 10-15 reps. If you are going to add to your everyday routine, make sure you do them after your cardio (bike, run or swim) and stick to 2 sets of 10-15 reps.

Stay tuned for more Fit Friday tips every week and don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel.

Wear Test Wednesday: You Had Me at Coffee

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There are those you like coffee and then there are those that love coffee. Then there is one more level of coffee addition. These are the athletes that drink it and use it before during and after their workouts. These groups of people have a deeper relationship with coffee than with their own friends sometimes. I’m one of these people. I’m a full-blown coffee addict and I don’t plan on getting help any time soon.

I’m also busy, I don’t have time to buy loads of veggies and calculate the correct balance of carbs to proteins. I don’t want to make a huge mess in my kitchen and grind everything down to a pulp (only to find out I made enough shake for a small country).

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Enter Rumble Supershake. They brought a simplified ready-made protein shake and even better they made both a vanilla and chocolate version. This shake was the answer to most of morning and post workout problems. I had breakfast to go. Check. When work gets busy and my stomach starts screaming at me, I have a mid day snack to tie me over. Check. I’m in the middle of the woods, finished a trail run and I NEED protein, its there waiting for me. Check

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The benefits of Rumble are endless. It’s great for diabetics and athletes who are concerned about high sugar intake. It’s a shake that has all the greens a person needs in one day, the right amount of carbs and 20grams of protein. It’s not vegan, but the company uses the highest quality New Zealand whey powder. Even though it does use whey, I’m still able to drink it, because it’s 99.9% lactose free. In the past I would have to use brown rice protein powder, which is great but not as complete.

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Rumble Supershake has recently added a new Flavour and this is something to get really f**king excited about. The new Coffee Bean flavour has rocked my world. I honestly thought the coffee bean would naturally be more like a mocha coffee flavour. I was so wrong. It’s got a very smooth and gentle coffee flavour which tastes like a cold brew coffee. The coffee content is small, only 111gm per serving. The best part is the great coffee flavour is naturally occuring through organic fair trade coffee beans. It’s a smooth dosage and I don’t feel wired after drinking it or that I’m exceeding the recommended dosage of caffeine. In case you want to know what that is, it’s recommended people should stick to 400mg or less.

This small company from Victoria. British Columbia has really started to grow. You can find their product in almost every health food store, whole foods, some grocery stores and now in the U.S.A. Check the store locator on their site to find them near you.


Rumble Ambassadors jump for joy over new flavour!

What the F**K is a Fartlek?

The Fartlek run is widely used by coaches and runners everywhere. Still the number one question I get about running when I send out coaching plans, what is a fartlek? It’s a simple running exercise and often time’s not understand why it’s important to add to your training schedule.

What the F**K is a fartlek?
The dictionary says it’s “a system of training for distance runners in which the terrain and pace are continually varied to eliminate boredom and enhance psychological aspects of conditioning.” This is a very good description actually.

The word Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “speed play” which was developed by a Swedish coach named Gösta Holmér way back in 1937. A fun fact: this training technique was designed for the Swedish cross-country team who kept getting beat by Paavo Nurmi and the rest of the Finnish team. Fartlek’s are great for the beginner runner to add small spurts of running or faster runner into their run and even better for elites athletes to train specifically for their events.


Fartlek’s are more fun with friends

If I were to ask any one of my friends what makes up a fartlek, they would most likely answer, 1 minute fast running with 2 minutes of easy running. This would be absolutely correct, but the fartlek is not confined to this format.
An example of a Fartlek for the walk / runner: Walking for 5 minutes and running for 1 minute, each week increasing the running time and decreasing the walking time.

Fartlek’s can go as long as 1-2km sections of faster running with a shorter jog break between. No matter how long you decide to make your fartlek section, the most important part is to ensure you are working at 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. It’s a workout that is not meant to tax your body and be a full out sprint session. Adding in fartlek sessions will help with running form and best of all leg turnover. Fartlek’s are essential to get you race day ready. They simulate the ebb and flow of a race where alternating speeds are just part of competition. Even though you have a target pace on race day, terrain, crowds and aid stations will create variations in your pace, a fartlek prepares your legs and mind for these changes.

You should ideally add one Fartlek session per week into your run schedule. Make it fun! Try a music Fartlek where you pick up the pace for the duration of the chorus. Alternatively you can do a lamppost fartlek where you do your pickups from one lamppost to the next then easy run to the next lamp post and repeat.


Get yourself race ready! Use the Fartlek

Mizuno Fit Friday: Running Drills Part 1

Today on Fit Friday I want to share with the runners out there some important running drills. I’m starting with A and B for now. These two exercises are essential to do before any workouts and your race.

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Running A drill

These drills are essentially to prepare you body for the motion of running. The series of drills are basically slowed down, exaggerated running movements broken up to narrow in on each phase of the running form. Start with the Running A’s, you bring your knee up toward your chest and allows the arms to follow naturally as they would if you were running. Rather than bounce through the move, you need to make sure to have contact with the ground at all times. The movement is coming only from the hip, pulling the knee in an upward movement. The A drill will start to increase blood flow and range of movement in the hip and pelvis area. This drill is more about warming up the muscle.


B running Drill. End position.

Moving to the B drill, this movement is very similar to the A drill. The difference is you will slowly bringing the knee up towards the chest, but on the downward movement, you will snap the leg down twice as fast as you lifted it up. This drill is meant to activate the glutes, and hamstrings and promote good running form. This drill is a must do, to prevent injuries like tears and strains, which are common in the hamstring area.

The drills seem silly and waste of time and are often underused by runners. These drills work though. Rather than static stretching, which often times will turn a muscle off, drills activate the muscles, and making sure they are all firing together. Drills only need to be done before a run, workout or race, where static stretching should be done post activity.

If you have any exercises you are curious about please let me know and I will definitely feature them on Fit Friday!

Stay tuned for more fit tips and running drills in the coming weeks.
Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to get the latest updates.