The countdown is on for my half marathon…19 days! I’m still nervous and still excited, but there’s more excitement and less nervousness now. The past three weeks I’ve been making a solid effort to keep my diet on point, consuming the right nutrients at the right times to give my body the energy it needs. While there are general guidelines about nutrition, such as the recommended amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to consume, nutrition really is a very personal concept. What works for some will not work for others, and you may even notice that within your own life, what once worked for you no longer does. Example: for a while I mostly gave up white carbohydrates, like white rice, potatoes, and white bread. My reasoning for this was because I wanted to consume their brown (and in the case of potatoes, orange) counterparts to reap the nutritional benefits that whole grains and complex carbohydrates provide. But now I’ve discovered that after a long run consuming those quick-absorbing white carbs does my body good! There’s a big white pita my Yiayia made in my freezer that I can’t wait to eat after my 11 mile run later this week!
Now, I’m not saying you should trade all your multigrains for Wonder Bread. After the big run I’m probably going to hold off on the pita bread and white rice until training for my next half marathon intensifies. But what I am saying is that if you feel like you’re ready to take your nutrition into your own hands, do some research and don’t be afraid to challenge conventional “wisdom” every once in awhile. This may sound kind of strange, but I like to look at my body as a science experiment. The more I learn about how it works, the more I can apply different training principles and nutritional approaches to achieve my desired outcome. Which at this moment is to consume the correct ratio of nutrients that will sustain me while running 15+ miles a week, while at the same time preserving the muscle I developed the past few months without storing extra fat. Very conflicting goals, but I’m learning they can be done.
As much as I love to run, I don’t want to look like the typical marathon runner (which is a good thing I guess, seeing as how I’m NOT a marathon runner!). I’ve worked hard to build this muscle, however small it may be, and I want to keep it! Over the past 9 weeks of training I’ve made sure to include three days of weight training to supplement my running. The last couple of weight training sessions I’ve had I experimented with full-body workouts as opposed to the workouts that focus on one or two muscles groups I normally do. So you better believe that on Saturday night when I asked the man what he wanted to work at the gym on Sunday and he replied with “core work” that I was a happy chick. Poor guy. He really didn’t know what he was getting himself into.I have a love-hate relationship with core work. It’s one of those things that I THINK I like, but when I’m actually doing it, it’s like “oh right. This is hard and I suck at it.” And I admit that because of this, with the exception of 10 or 15 minutes of ab exercises at the end of a workout, I don’t really work my core. But a strong core is crucial to any successful training program. If you’re looking for increased muscle size (known as hypertrophy), a strong core is going to help you push heavier weight. A strong core helps runners keep their upper bodies stabilized during long runs, preventing flailing arms and twisting torsos that can leach the body’s already diminishing energy stores. A strong core even assists us in our day-to-day lives, helping us maintain posture and perform lifting and bending activities free of injury.
I hadn’t developed a core workout before, and since I had a suffer buddy I thought I would make it challenging. Not only does this work your core, but your arms and legs will get a good pump as well. This took us 65 minutes from start to finish, not including warm-up and cool-down. Rest 30 seconds between each set, and the exercises paired together should be done consecutively. The key to performing these moves is to really focus on keeping your core engaged the entire time. Tighten those abs to keep your balance! About halfway through the workout I realized that since there was two of us I could get pictures to give a better idea of the moves! So unfortunately I only have pictures for the last couple of exercises. Sorry!
April 14 Core Workout
1. Kettlebell swings: 3 sets X 20 reps
2a. Dumbbell thrusters: 3 sets X 12 reps
SS 2b. One-leg dumbbell deadlift: 3 sets X 12 reps each leg
3a. Walking planks: 3 sets X 1 min
SS 3b. Jump rope: 3 sets X 1 min