Thursday, June 11, 2015

Live, Laugh, Play: My Favorite Running Activities

I previously shared with you my favorite running-related food items and swag. It's now time to share the different types of running-related activities. I love running (d'uh) but the following activities add more fun to the run.

Running Workouts

I'm an endurance machine with lots of slow-twitch muscle fibers and don't have a natural 'kick'. Adding track, hill and speed sessions to my weekly run rotation has been one of the better things I've done to improve my running economy. 

It has also added a lot of fun and challenge. Heavy emphasis on the challenge {in case you didn't notice}.  The workouts are not easy and while I'm doing them, they are not fun (usually when I first start and think:quit! quit! quit!). The fun comes after when I've completed a workout. When the endorphins are flowing and I'm cooling down with a slow jog to coffee (#willrunforcoffee). I feel like I can accomplish anything. I'm Super Wendy! And then the hunger comes...

There are so many different types of workouts and they all work on different aspects of running to improve speed, strength and efficiency. In a future post I will describe some of the types. All-levels of runners can incorporate some sort of speed training to their rotation. If I can add speed, you can too. 

Running with Nani

You may have noticed reading my blog that there are more pictures of my dog, Nani than my husband, Paul. The truth of the matter is that Nani loves, loves, loves to go running with me. He probably loves running more than I do. Paul tolerates running with me and will occasionally go on short runs and races with me. 

Nani is a smart boy and knows my running clothes/shoes and habits. He gets super-excited when he notices me getting ready for a run and gets super-disappointed when he figures out I'm not taking him (usually long runs or speed workouts). Like the teenager he is, he throws tantrums and will ignore me when I return. I've run up to 10 miles with Nani but usually only take him on runs less than 6 miles. He knows our routes, knows the houses we pass with barky dogs, knows that we usually end our runs at Starbucks (where he sometimes gets a puppuccino and I always get a coffee #willrunforcoffee).

I use the Ollydog Mt. Tam Running Leash with Nani. It's great because it fits around my waist so I can run hands-free and has reflective handle to grab when we're at a stoplight or for control. I've also started to use the Kurgo Wander Dog Backpack with him for trail runs. He doesn't like it so much but tolerates it because he knows it means he gets to go running.

Training with TRX

Obviously TRX isn't running. Developing a strong core is important essential for running though. A strong core helps stabilize your torso so you can run more efficiently and not waste energy. It helps with balance and posture, also important for running. A strong core means I can go faster for longer. I especially notice my core assisting me on long runs when my legs are starting to get tired. A strong core isn't just surface abs. It includes glutes, back, hip flexors, pelvic floor and deep abs. All of which, if under-developed or weak can lead to injuries in runners. All of which, TRX helps strengthen. 

I've been taking TRX classes, using both the original suspension trainer and the rip trainer at The Energy Lab, a personal training, small-group exercise and wellness studio, for approximately 4 years. The classes are fun and great for all-levels (it's easy or hard depending on how you position yourself or your base). You can also train away from studios or gyms. You can take TRX anywhere--parks, home, hotel rooms while travelling for work. I believe improving my core strength has been key to becoming a faster and stronger runner post-knee injury

This is it for my 3-part favorites series. I hope you've enjoyed it! And I hope it will inspire you to try something new. 

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