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Saturday, September 24, 2011

take away: imbalance, strength & flexibility

The Lehigh Valley Marathon (LVM) was two weeks ago tomorrow.  I can't believe it has been only two weeks.  Honestly, it feels like ages ago.  Taking time off from my training and slowing down in order to recover has made my whole life feel like it is going in slow motion in many ways.  I know it was the right decision (without a doubt, no question) because now I am strong and ready to get back into the swing of things without any injuries.  This has been another case of "it wasn't easy, but it was worth it." I find it amazing how many ways that concept translates into life and running...

That race was such a learning experience for me.  I fought so hard to get through my stomach issues and then my legs cramping as a result of having to slow down so much.  I fought to stay positive and to focus on the fact that I was setting a huge PR though the race did not go at all as I had planned.  It was so NOT easy.  And it was so worth it.  No regrets.  I know I would have regrets about this race if I didn't do the right things to recover though, plain and simple.

me at the finish line, still fighting: so ready to be done
I spent the last two weeks on a roller coaster of sorts - lots of ups and lots of downs.  If it weren't for my twice-weekly strength training routines at the gym (think lunges, squats, planks, upper body and core work), yoga, Pilates (teaching it and doing it) walking and light runs I don't know how I would have gotten through it all.  I mean that on a physical level but also on emotional and mental levels, too.  I've learned a lot from this recovery period -- the benefits of taking time off from hard training go beyond just resting the muscles.

One of the things that I'm taking away from this is that slowing down helped me identify areas of imbalance in my body.  Namely, my glutes are weak and I need to give them a little extra TLC to get those puppies stronger.  The  LVM was a sickeningly hilly course and my glutes were firing in overdrive that day.  My glutes/hips felt so tight so I was using the foam roller and a racquet ball to get deep within the muscles to loosen them up.  I did it so much that I actually irritated the topmost layer of the muscles (no visible bruising, but tender to the touch!  It's ok, you can laugh at me - I don't mind.  I have been laughing at myself over that for the past day and a half!  Anyway, it's been good to have this time to focus on my strength and flexibility because I truly believe that it is essential in helping me feel GOOD in my body (whether running or not!) and of course I also believe it helps me be a stronger runner. 

So - now that I will be resuming my normal training regime I will be incorporating more strength/flexibility exercises into my routine.  Prior to the race I was doing strength training 2x a week and Pilates almost every day.  Now I am going to add specific glute-strengthening exercises and yoga to my repertoire.  I know I won't regret it.  In talking with Dr. Wong yesterday he suggested I do my core work and squats/lunges BEFORE my runs every day.  That way the muscles aren't wiped out from running when I go to do the exercises.  I think it should be fairly simple - it really doesn't take much time at all and I will already be dressed and ready for exercise.  As with everything else, it's just a matter of MAKING THE TIME for myself to do it and not giving myself any excuses not to.  The benefits of doing this so greatly outweigh the inconvenience of making the time to do it.


So, tell me .... what do you do to work on strength and flexibility and how do you fit it into your routine?  Have you identified specific areas of weakness or imbalance in your body?  What are you doing to fix that?

** Don't forget to enter my Endorphin Warrior training bracelet giveaway!  Contest ends Tuesday 9/27 at midnight.  Click HERE to enter! **

4 comments:

Well....I actually don't work my strenth and flexibility and am now paying for it. I am hoping to turn over a new leaf in the next month. I am thinking that working with a trainer to get the right exercises will be good for me.

I totally relate to that feeling of overdoing it with the foam roller and massage that muscles become tender to the touch! So hard to find the right balance. I'm impressed with your strength training regime! And you look amazing in your photo! Strong!

Great photo, Jessica!

For strength training, I go to a 2x weekly weights class (I hate weights and wouldn't do them if I weren't paying for the class). I'm also getting a core DVD as I don't think my core has ever fully recovered from my twin pregnancy and is a huge weakness for me. I hope I don't open my diastasis any further, but I'm sick of waiting for it to heal while staying weak for running. For flexibility, I foam roll, too, and do sun salutations and hip openers after every hard run. My left hip is tight and weak (again, ever since my pregnancy). So far, so good--this routine is keeping me injury free!

Glad you are feeling STRONG again. You will do great in your race!!

I haven't worked strength training into my routine because I just don't have time. GAH!!! I need to though. Desperately. And yoga!!! As soon as I get past this injury and am able to get back to running in the early am (outside), I'm going to see how I can fit it in. My hip flexors need HELP. They are my weak link.

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