Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Newsflash! Socially Inept Recluse Ventures Out

Awhile back, I confessed that I haven't raced since high school. I have another terrible confession. I am a recluse. I prefer complete and silent solitude. I run alone. I cook alone. I read alone. I lift weights alone. I write alone. (There are a few things I don't do alone and for those things I have had the great fortune of marrying my {roll your eyes now} soulmate.)

For my son's sake, I do make the occasional effort to go where other people will be. This morning it was to the park. There were LOTS of people running and exercising. I nodded my head pleasantly to them as my boy pointed out the numerous ducks. We were venturing down a slope when I became aware of movement behind me. A man was riding his bike and actually had to veer off the walkway into the grass. He informed me, in passing, that I was on the wrong side of the path. That I should stay on the right.

I was taken aback. And my bright and shiny morning was on the verge of being destroyed.

Please help me. Is there a right or wrong side to walk on in a city park? The path is not marked and it is not posted anywhere. I am not afraid to tell people smoking is not allowed in a public park but, then again, I am able to point to the city ordinance which states the law.

Also, I came across a group of mommies with their joggers. A very energetic and extremely fit (her shoulders absolutely dwarfed mine!) young mother informed me that she leads a Baby Boot Camp. She invited me to join the group for a free first class on Thursday and you know what? I'm going to do it! This recluse is stepping out!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Turn on a Dime: How to Turn a Fixed Wheel Stroller

Part 2
Obviously, the stronger you are, the easier it will be, but I've defined 4 key areas that you can work on to make it easier to control your stroller*. Likewise, running with your stroller can strengthen your upper body as well as your legs!

1. Abdominal Muscles. You can't underestimate the importance of a strong core - for anything! This is not just about getting your tummy back into shape after baby #x. Your abdominal muscles support your back and whole torso. In addition to classic crunches and/or sit ups - to borrow from Yoga - plank and side plank are great moves to practice. Plus, it is harder for the kids to climb on top of me when I am not laying on my back!

Plank begins on your hands and feet as though you are at the top of a push up. You could also go down to elbows/feet or hands/knees to make it easier as you begin. Trying to keep your body as straight as possible as you hold this position. Take a break and repeat. Side plank is when you rotate onto just one hand or elbow and the outside of one knee or foot.
2. Deltoid Muscles (Shoulders). Let's start with exercises that don't require any equipment - except maybe for a small child if you happen to have one lying about. These are the muscles that surround your shoulders: front, back and side. You can do push ups. You can lift your child up to chin-level, keeping your elbows high ("upright row"). You can lift your child over your head ("shoulder press"). Side raises and front raises hit the right area too, but you might find that any child old enough to be handled in this manner to be too heavy.

3. Pectorals (Chest). Push ups can help here too. The traditional exercise is a chest press while lying on your back. You can try using your kid for this one too, though results may vary.

4. Triceps. These are the muscles that extend your arms. Dips off the end of a chair or bench are great. Tricep push ups keep your hands and elbows in close such that your arms brush your sides as you move up and down. If too difficult, you can do these standing upright and leaning on a wall. Tricep extensions keep your upper arms/elbows still right next to your ears while you move a weight up and down.

* I am not a personal trainer, these are just exercises that work for me.
Also, all pictures are borrowed from other websites. Please click on a picture to go to the website from which the graphic came. Thanks.

Monday, June 15, 2009

This Evening's Spectacle

This evening's spectacle, down a quiet little neighborhood street:

My 4-year-old boy riding a WAY-TOO-BIG bike recovered from a dumpster whose training wheels screeched like fingernails down a chalkboard; all the while he was growling screaming out car engine sounds and pretending to get blown-out tires.

Next to him: me and my 23 week pregnant belly slogging* along soaked in sweat, chanting "Go Lightning McQueen Go!" or "Peet Stop"** in a really bad Italian accent or "Bring on the confetti!"***

Talk about a circus!

*runningfor3's fabulous term for slow jogging
** Guido anyone?
***Chick...and yes, thanks for asking: We HAVE seen the movie Cars 1084 times.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer morning date runs

Hello Running Ladies!
It is 95 degrees-- hotter as the day goes on. My new summer morning routine is to run at 5:30 AM with my husband. Serves two great purposes. I get a workout in early and out of running clothes before 5pm and a date with my husband. It does not get better than that. The first morning was kind of funny. I told him the evening before I'd be joining him. When he got up at 5AM I waited for him to shave and come get me. He never came and got me. I rushed downstairs, grabbed the dog and went running after him. About 3 miles later I ran into him coming back and he had the happiest look he'd had in a long time seeing me out there looking for him. He thought I'd changed my mind about coming and needed to sleep (I'd been nursing for the past two years and sleep was not plentiful). The dog loves it too. Great stuff.

One more funny thing-- I just saw my 2 year old up on tiptoes and there for all the world to see were two little calf muscles bulging like her parents. The whole family has muscular legs-- very funny to see so early.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Turn on a Dime: How to Turn a Fixed Wheel Stroller

Part I
There are two basic ways to make a fixed-wheel jogging stroller turn where you want to go. Both will feel quite different from turning a swivel-wheel stroller. With a swivel front wheel, one pushes into the front wheel(s) so that it will grip and ground and turn. With the fixed-wheel alternative, you will either
1. lift the front wheel and pivot on the back wheels or
2. torque the stroller to turn without lifting any wheels off the ground.

If you need to make a big turn, such as turning a corner, you will need to push down on the handlebar to lift the front wheel off the ground and pivot on the back wheels. The easiest way to do this is to bring your body in close to the handlebar to take advantage of your core strength and possibly even the weight of your upper body. For big turns or with heavy kids, you may find it helpful to lean with your outside forearm on the handlebar to push it down. Make sure that your kids are leaning all the way back into their seats as well.

For smaller or more gradual turns, it is not always necessary to turn with the front wheel off the ground. I can best describe this option by comparing it to turning a boat by heeling in the opposite direction; heel right to turn left and vice versa. Of course, if you are unfamiliar with sailing, that is not particularly helpful :) This option is more of a lateral push that will torque the front wheel in the direction you want to go. This is ideal if you are making gradual turns along a curvy path or around obstructions that you can see well in advance. Note: This technique will be much more effective when you are running that if you are trying to walk.

If you find this very difficult, there are a few key muscle groups that can help. That's Part II.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

"Race" Update

Hello All!

Crumbs here - Back from The Land of Fatigue and Heaving (a.k.a First Trimester) and happily gliding along through Celebration and Energy (well, relatively speaking!).  I'm 22 weeks along in my 2nd pregnancy and have a renewed love of running quickly-paced waddling.

I've never been fast, but My Oh My, just 2 months ago it took me 45 minutes to force myself to go 2.5 miles.  The agony!  All because of this weird addiction that seemed like it was going to promise me relief in my rough months of sickness.  Really - food was intolerable. Advil unadvised. And a Mojito with a floater? Highly frowned upon by the masses.  I knew I was allowed to run, though.  And when I run, I get a Runner's High!  Sweet - Hook Me Up. Only, I couldn't really make it through the first mile so easily without getting dizzy and feeling like a 7 year old was taking drum lessons in my head.  I guess only being able to force down 500 calories a day meant there wasn't much in the bank for added exercise.  This, it seemed, was going to be a very, very long 40 weeks.  Weekly milage went from 25 to...well, 3 (or 10, if you count running to the toilet).

Fast forward to this week.  

I had slowly reintroduced myself to running over the last 8 weeks - first with the treadmill and then out on the street - week by week adding a little more.  I even completed a 5 miler in just 1 minute/per mile slower than pre-pregnancy.  HOPE!  HOPE, I tell you!  

So I signed up for a 5k in my old stomping grounds of South Miami.  (I'm back in town for a little while and what better to meet up with old friends than at a race?!  It's a fun way to let folks know about the little one, too!)  Anyway - I knew I wasn't going to set any records but I couldn't believe that I finished a cool 2 minutes slower than I did last year - right around old running buddies.  Just 2 months ago I had lost hope of ever having my runner's high again.  But there it was:  Baby and Me waddling through at a relaxed pace, waving to familiar faces, enjoying the course, passing the finish line with a smile and energy to spare!

Each day I get bigger. 
I know every run won't be that smooth. 
BUT it's so comforting to know that, even when I hit rough patches (be it morning sickness or injury or burnout), I'll eventually get my groove back.

Happy Running All!