Halfway There: Keep It Simple!

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Welcome to week four of the Inspiration to Fitness Track to 5k! You have officially entered the halfway mark (though hopefully you're planning on continuing this running journey for much longer). By now you've completed about nine runs and six strength workouts. Carrying groceries, chasing kids and taking the stairs should leave you feeling more fabulous than famished.

Sometimes our nutrition is as important as the training itself. Here are some tips for what to eat and drink before, during and after your key runs:

- Keep it simple. Stick close to what's been working for you and what your body is used to. There's no need to go crazy. - It's not just about calories. What type of fuel you take in impacts performance. Consume a balanced diet of lean protein, healthy fats, fruits, veggies and whole grain carbohydrates.

- Know your needs. Your body shouldn't require the extra calories from sports drinks during a run of three miles of less. If you prefer a sports drink during your run, try mixing it with water.

- Eat after. You shouldn't need food on a run of three miles or less, but you will want to have a snack and replace lost fluids post-workout. Choose carbs mixed with some protein to kick off the recovery process. This article offers tips on what foods to eat.

- Hydration is king. Drink lots of water (aim for a pale yellow urine) but cut back just before the race to avoid unnecessary waits for bathrooms after you've passed the start line.

- Dehydration causes a decline in performance. This article provides a good guide on what to drink when. - Never under fuel.You want full glycogen stores for key runs so never cut calories the days before. Consume your regular amount of calories with an emphasis on healthy carbs.

- Keep it cold. Athletes who consume pre-workout fluid cold or iced tend to perform slightly longer than athletes who consume warm beverages (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2008).

- Do the math. Keep in mind that you burn around 80-100 calories per mile as you plan the calories you'll intake on your run.

- Take caution with alcohol and caffeine. Again, stick with what you're used to. Alcohol and caffeine can affect your performance if taken close to a run when you're not used to them. If you normally consume either, small amounts close to key runs won't negatively affect your performance.

- Experiment freely. Most of what we know about nutrition comes from finding out about what doesn't work than what does. Try new things, keep a log of how you feel and get to know your body better than ever before.

Track to 5k_Run Strong.jpg

Stretch

We know dynamic stretching helps loosen the body and prevents injury before running. Static stretching, or holding a deeper, longer stretch, can prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness after a run.

Continue loosening your body with active, dynamic stretching before you run. After your run try out some of these static stretches to press reset on your body. Remember to get into the stretch gradually and hold for 30 seconds. Bouncing or moving into a stretch too fast or far will cause the muscle to contract and increase tension.

Wall Stretch- Stand about three feet from a wall. Stretch your arms to lean against the wall as you step forward with your right foot. Keep your left leg extended behind you. With a slightly bent right knee, lean forward into your right leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds and switch legs.

Heel to Butt- Balance on your right leg while holding on to a wall or bar for support. Hold your left foot behind you and draw your left heel toward your behind. Stretch your quadriceps as far as comfortable and hold. Switch legs.

Hamstring and Back Stretch- Extend flat on your back. Wrap your arms around your shins to draw them toward your chest and stretch your back and hamstrings. Hold the stretch. Release both legs and stretch one leg by drawing your shin to your chest. Hold and switch legs.

Run

We're running a little longer this week. Can you run the full distance without walking? Try to run as much as possible and, if you can run the full distance, run a little faster this week. We're going to talk more about speed next week.

Walk to warm up for five minutes. Run for 2.25 miles or 25 minutes. Take brisk, short walk breaks when necessary. Afterward, walk to cool down for five minutes.

Strength

Each week we mix up our strength workouts to keep the body guessing and to activate new muscle groups. For one of your strength workouts this week perform any of the five workouts covered in week one, week two or week three.

Try out this workout for your other strength workout:

Strength workout 6: 3 rounds

Mountain climbers- Come into a military push-up position balancing on the floor on your toes and palms with your butt in line with your heels and shoulders. Bring one knee high into your chest and return to original position. Repeat on opposite leg. Increase the speed of the movement as permissible.

Walking lunges- Stand with legs shoulder-width apart and hands on hips. Step forward with your leading leg and lower your body by bending the knee and hip of the leading leg to 90 degrees and the knee of the trailing leg is almost in contact with floor. Without bringing your feet together, bring your back leg forward and through to complete the same movement.

Wall Sits- Stand with your back against a wall, feet about two to three feet forward. Bend knees 90 degrees, sliding your back down the wall, making sure your knees are aligned over the ankles. Hold here for 60-90 seconds.

"What matters is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog." -Dwight D. Eisenhower

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