I have started and stopped Couch to 5K about a bajillion times. What happens is, I start but then I think “this is too easy” and so I decide to “run” the whole way, except I slow way down so that I can be sure to make it, because I want to be able to say I ran for two miles without stopping. Then I get frustrated that my legs give out way before I get any good cardio in, and I never quite get into running the way I’d like to.
So when the publisher of Build Your Running Body offered me a review copy, I thought I’d take them up on it and figure out this running thing once and for all.
I love how easy to read this book is, and yet it gives excellent scientific explanations for why you should do things like not how I was trying to do them. And yes, DH told me all this before, but he never explained WHY. I’m one of those people who wants to know WHY. I highly recommend Build Your Running Body if you are at all interested in getting into running or want to improve upon what you’ve been doing.
I also hate to go to the gym. Give me an outdoor or at home workout any day. So I’m pleased to present to you this excerpt from the book:
The Runner 360
The Runner 360 is an all-around strength program for runners who prefer the outdoors or their own living rooms to the weight room. Best of all, fitness motivator and running yoga instructor Angie Stewart Goka, MPH, CSCS, has crafted a workout that can be completed in 12 minutes and that targets every muscle that runners need for strength and balance. Angie models the exercises to ensure proper form and offers a wide variety of workouts for runners who want more at angiestewartfitness.com. First, five quick rules for the workout:
- Perform each exercise, in order, for one minute.
- When the workout calls for left and right sides individually, perform each for 30 seconds.
- Do as many reps as you can while maintaining good form (no cheating on form for more reps!).
- Keep a log of reps as a way to track improvement.
- For a more intense workout, repeat the entire set of exercises (up to a maximum of three times).
The following twelve exercises, from the Inchworm Plank to the Supergirl/Superman Plank, are all part of the same continuous workout.
Skill level: All levels
The inchworm plank helps to awaken your muscles, working both flexibility and strength. And if you’re not very flexible, it’s okay to bend your knees for this exercise.
- Begin in a standing position with your arms straight up. Be prepared to perform this exercise as quickly as you can without losing form.
- Come into a forward fold, dropping your hands to your feet.
- Keep your legs straight (or bend them if you have to) and then walk your hands out into a plank position.
- Perform one push-up. Then walk your hands back to your feet and return to your starting position. Repeat.
Squat-thrust climbers are a great way to work your glutes (buttocks), quadriceps, and hamstrings.
- Stand with your feet close together and your arms at your sides.
- Squat down to the floor with your knees close together, placing your hands flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your abs tight, jump your legs back to assume the push-up position.
- For 5 seconds, “run” your legs under your chest, bringing your knees high and keeping your hips low. Then jump your legs back to the squat position, stand, and repeat.
Curtsy Lunge Hop
Curtsy lunge hops are the best calf-strengthener on the menu, so work them! You’ll also target your hip abductors, glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
- Start with your feet hip-width apart.
- Step backward, moving your right foot diagonally and to the left of your left hip. Simultaneously drop your right knee and bend your left knee.
- Propel your right knee upward as you come off the ground with your left foot, and lift your left elbow by swinging it up and forward. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
The scorpion fighter works your shoulders and core while stretching your obliques and hip flexors.
- Start in the push-up position, with the balls of your feet on a bench or chair.
- Bring your left knee beneath your body toward your right shoulder.
- Now reverse directions, bringing your left knee back as you rotate your hips up and to the left, stretching your left foot toward your right shoulder. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Sidewinder Plank with Leg Lift
This exercise is great for your hip abductors and improving stabilization. It also targets your obliques, back, glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
- Start in the plank position with your arms in full extension.
- Rotate your body to balance on the heel of your right hand and lift your opposite arm straight up (your wrist is directly beneath your shoulder).
- Lift and lower your top leg, keeping your hips level. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Plank pups will put the burn into your arms, shoulders, back, and core.
- Begin at the top of the push-up position.
- Bend your right elbow to lower onto your right forearm.
- Bend your left elbow to lower onto your left forearm.
- Lift your right elbow so that you can place your right hand flat on the ground, then do the same with your left elbow and hand. Return to original position, repeat for 30 seconds, then lead with your left arm for 30 seconds.
Lateral Speed Runners
Lateral speed runners work both your hip abductors and hip adductors, plus lots of core.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your arms at your sides.
- Hop to your right, landing on your right foot while balancing your left foot behind your right leg. Simultaneously move your left arm forward and your right arm back in a runner’s stance.
- Repeat to the other side. Focus on speed and control.
Windshield wipers target your full range of abs, and they’re terrific for improving stability.
- Lie on your back with your arms spread wide, palms down, thighs perpendicular to the floor and knees bent 90 degrees.
- Maintaining the bend at your hips and knees, swing your legs to one side of your body. Make sure that your upper back maintains contact with the floor.
- Bring your legs back to center, then repeat to the other side.
This variation on the traditional plank offers good core work while giving your shoulders a workout, too.
- Begin in the forearm plank position, except stack your forearms horizontally.
- Rotate onto your left side, elbow beneath your shoulder and right hand on your hip. Your feet should be stacked, your body straight. Rotate back to the center, then repeat on your right side.
Single-leg deadlifts are fantastic for improving balance and stability. They’re great for your core, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Start from a standing position.
- Keeping your back straight, bend forward at the hips while lifting one leg straight behind you (in line with your spine) and reaching your hands toward the ground. Return to the starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
This exercise is great for your glutes and also works your hamstrings and lower back (it’s often used to help relieve lower back pain).
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart.
- Lift your hips into a “bridge position.”
- March your knees toward your chest one at a time. Keep your back straight.
The Supergirl/Superman plank finishes your workout with a tough challenge to your core, shoulders, and back.
- Begin at the top of the push-up position.
- Simultaneously extend your right arm in front of you and your left leg behind you. Stay level while balancing for 3 seconds.
- After bringing your hand and foot back to push-up position, repeat on the opposite side. (As an easier alternative, perform this exercise from a “down on all fours” position, with hands and knees on the ground.)
Excerpt from Build Your Running Body: A Total-Body Fitness Plan for All Distance Runners, from Milers to Ultramarathoners—Run Farther, Faster, and Injury-Free, ©Pete Magill, Tom Schwartz, and Melissa Breyer, 2014. Reprinted with permission from the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.