Running and fitness instructor, activator, author, writer, deep thinker.
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” Albert Camus
If you feel knee pain when you are running, walking, and exercising, try these free tips.
Focus on excellent posture. Get taller – even when sitting. You don’t want to be leaning over your knees.
Engage your core. It will help stabilize your upper body so you can have better posture.
Align your feet and legs forward. Practice this. It may feel odd at first, but if you walk and run with splayed feet, that can affect your knees and hips.
Align your arms parallel. Put them at a 90 degree angle when walking and running. Think “elbows back.” The key is to not cross your center line.
Run, walk and exercise with purpose. Focus on your form. Always. When running, walking, doing strength training, yoga, golf, tennis and all other exercise, focus on your form and how your body is moving in space. Engage your core and put mind to muscle.
Strengthen your quads (front of your legs). Squats, leg lifts, lunges and planks all great. Make sure your hips are back when doing squats. And, knees are aligned and over your ankles when doing lunges. If forward lunges hurt, try reverse lunges.
Check your shoes. If your running shoes are super built up in the heel, that can encourage heel striking, which affects your knees, shins and back. Try a more neutral shoe.
Here is my 4 point strength, cardio and clean eating plan to help us all #Shred it and get back to fit.
1. Sculpt Thy Body Perfect
I recommend a total body strength workout using dumbbells two or three times a week. It tones all major muscle groups to create a balanced body and saves time. Strength training is excellent for burning calories (muscle burns more calories than fat) and getting lean. Plus, life is easier when we are stronger.
Your challenge: Add 2 -3 25 minute strength training sessions a week.
This plan works for beginner and advanced athletes.
Remember to focus on your form (This is easy if you work out in front of a mirror).
Start with 5-15 lbs dumbbells.
Challenge yourself to lift heavier weights as you get stronger.
Put your mind to your muscles as you work out and keep abdominals and booty engaged.
Jam out to your favorite music during your workout to boost endorphins.
Upper Body: 5X5
Five exercises, ten reps, five sets.
Bicep Curls, Shoulder Press, Triceps Kickback, Chest Press (or Push Up), Reverse Fly or Row. Pick a weight that, by rep 10 of each exercise, it should challenge you.
Or, try this 20 minute interval plan from the Body For Life challenge that is fast and efficient.
For perceived exertion (intensity level), think 1-10.
Level 1: You are sitting on couch or taking a slow walk.
Level 5: You are walking/jogging.
Level 6: You are running.
Level 10: You are in an all out sprint.
1. Warm up for 2 minutes at level 5.
2. Minutes 2-3 move from intensity level 5 to 6. Note: Level 6 is your recovery spot.
3. Minutes 4-5, 6-10 and 11-14 build up from level 6 to level 9, maintaining each level for one minute, then recover at level 6.
4. Minutes 14-19 build up from level 6 to level 10 (the high point), maintaining each level for one minute,
then recover at level 6.
5. Minute 20-25 cool down.
3. Sit Less
Reading this while sitting down? Stand up.
Are you sitting at your desk all day? Then drive, fly or Uber it home and sit more? Sitting all day and inactivity increases your risk of atrophy, weight gain, and many diseases like diabetes, slowing down your metabolism.
Research suggests that even shorts bursts of activity during the day make a difference.
Ideas: Set a timer to get up every 25 minutes to take a lap around the home or the office, go up and downstairs, or make tea and fetch a glass of water.
Walk the dog -don’t just let him outback. Walk or run at lunch and after dinner. Conduct walking meetings. Play Twister, dance, or play ball with your spouse or kids after work. Do jumping jacks and squats while binge-watching. Whatever. Just move more.
4. Eat Dinner Earlier:
Heard the buzz on Intermittent Fasting (IE)? Research shows it is an effective eating pattern to boost weight loss. And has a load of bonus benefits. We can’t ignore the diet. As we trainers say and know, you cannot our train a poor diet, so let’s hone in on what, when, and how much we eat.
To make it easy, eat cleaner and within a smaller window of time a few days a week.
I consulted my talented friend Barret Butler, RD, LD, MPH, for her professional advice on IE. She tested a bunch of diets on her friends and clients a few years ago. Out of ALL the diets, the most sustained weight loss was with her plan, a version of IE, which she has kindly provided for us below.
1. Eat three real food meals a day and one afternoon snack.
2. Avoid alcohol during Monday-Friday.
3. Two nights a week, prep dinner early (think slow cooker) and finish eating by 5 pm.
Eat Breakfast (protein size of your palm, healthy fat, fruit, or toast)
Eat lunch (protein size of your palm, healthy fat, big salad)
Eat Snack (handful nuts and kombucha or green tea)
Eat dinner (protein size of your palm), steamed or grilled veggies, or big salad).
Add 2-3 25 minutes of strength training a week.
Add 3 25 mins interval training a week.
Move more during the day and evening.
Commit to Barret’s simple eating pattern.
I know. Fit this #Shredit challenge into your busy life? Yes! If you want to get fitter, leaner, and stronger, it’s a simple plan and 30 mins or less a day. This plan can make you feel fitter and leaner within a week!
Get up earlier to get it done.
Commit to #JustDoIt for a two-week test.
Then, assess the data.
Do you feel leaner, stronger, happier? Are you sleeping better?
Ha, I am no Yoda, but I do have some wisdom of experience to share about how the running skies opened when I finally chose to focus on my form.
Over the past 30 + years of running, playing soccer, and countless races, I learned to train, run slow, fast, short, medium, and long distances, to hydrate, eat well, and get sleep (if you can) before races.
But I never thought about my form as a runner.
As a result, I ended up with a slew of injuries and extra gear; pain in my metatarsals (across toes), IT band pain, piriformis pain, rotator cuff pain, heel pain, shin splints, a ganglion cyst on my ankle, x-rays, the “boot,” and $350 orthotics, and many clunker stabilizing shoes.
It’s just the life of a runner!
With each visit, the doctor would say, “Don’t run for at least six weeks!”
Gasp. I just HAD to run, you know?
Alas! The running skies opened back in 2005.
That was the day I read a small article about running form in our local paper, The Charlotte Observer. The author suggested that we consider our body mechanics and alignment while running versus just the shoes. It made so much sense!
But who knew? My previous foot doctors had never analyzed my form, nor had I! Was the author saying it might be me, not the SHOE?
He suggested we poor injured runners reach out to ultra runners “Barefoot Ted” or Danny Dreyer for additional help. Dreyer had just published a book called “ChiRunning,” which combined good running form with physics and the ancient martial art of Tai Chi.
I was not ready to go barefoot then but decided that day as a trainer, and an injury-prone runner, to pursue ChiRunning with all my might.
When I did, my injuries went away almost overnight.
You can imagine how I became a RAVING fan! I decided to become an instructor and have been teaching this form and philosophy along with instructors worldwide since 2007.
ChiRunning decreases injury while enhancing energy efficiency, speed, mental clarity, and joy (because you are not injured and probably faster).
The key components of ChiRunning form:
Excellent posture. Alignment and relaxation of our shoulders, arms, and feet. An engaged core, a quicker, shorter mid-foot stride, and a very slight lean from the ankle (Why fall forward? Physics).
The cost? Free. You just have to be mindful. As we instructors like to say, focusing on your form with every step you take is a tiny price to pay if it will enable you to run injury-free or get back to running post-injury.
Are you currently injured?
Check your posture. Do you stand, work, walk and run hunched over or with poor posture? This creates stress in your neck, upper and lower back, hamstrings and knees. Pore posture also compromises your ability to inhale and exhale when exercising. Tip: Run and walk tall.
Look down at your feet. Do you splay your feet? That splay in your right or left foot may explain your ongoing knee, IT band, and hip pain on the same side. Tip: Align your feet hip-width and parallel.
Check your body alignment. To avoid extraneous movement and related injuries:
Get tall and align your feet hip-width and parallel. Align your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles in a vertical column. Check what this sweet posture looks like in a mirror.
Tight shoulders?Stressed? When running, do you ruminate about your job, the family, boyfriend, girlfriend, bills, competitors, and your to-do list? Tip: Let it go. Use runs to focus on just you – your form, nature, and breathing. You will become more focused and relaxed.
Consider your arms. Do you even use them when you run and walk? You should! Do your arms “sashay” or swing laterally as you run? Hello, IT band and hip pain! Maybe even rotator cuff pain. Tip: Align arms parallel and at a 90-degree angle on flats. Allow them to glide fully back as you run. It will make running and walking easier and more efficient.
Check your shoes. Are the heels of your shoes built up? Are they clunkers? Not everyone needs a minimal light shoe. But I learned that you, not the shoe, need to work harder to prevent injury. Tip: Try on a more lightweight neutral shoe.
Why? If you have a shoe with nosebleed heels or a high heel-to-toe drop, it will simply encourage heel striking and related pain (think shin splints, plantar and Achilles pain, fractures, runners knee, and back pain). Note that if you still prefer a cushion, several popular cushy rides on the market are relatively neutral.
Run to cadence. Our military figured this out. Our bodies and minds love rhythm. Tip: Run with a small metronome you can carry or strap on your shorts. Or, find songs you can listen to with a 175-180 bpm. Or run to your own waltz, right 2,3, left 2,3, and so on.
As you focus on your form and relaxing, whether running solo or with groups, you will run more efficiently, faster, and feel better running. Eventually, you will look or feel like you are gliding.
Here are proven ways to torch extra calories throughout the day brought to you by Dr. Len Kravitz, a fitness and health researcher who teaches at University of New Mexico. I met Dr. Kravitz at a conference and he has a passion for evidenced based research and sharing the knowledge. I recently took his course on weight-loss and fat metabolism for continuing education, and here is just some of what I learned.
Dr. Kravitz’s 10 tips to burn more calories daily.
For every 30 minutes you are awake during day and evening -if you are seated or lying down, get up and move for 5 minutes.
Walk more briskly. So, if you tend to stroll, pick up the pace. (See bonus longevity benefits for this increase in pace in Dr. Mirkin’s article below).
Try 30/60 second interval walking, running, biking and swimming. Warm up 5-10 minutes, then speed up for 30 seconds to a challenging pace, then recover for 60 seconds. Repeat for 10 rounds, then cool down for 5 minutes. As you get fitter, try 30/30 intervals.
Move a little after you hydrate. I know, sounds odd. But he says there is proof it works!
Track your steps. In one study it boosted activity by 26.9%.
At the gym use a multimode approach within a session. Example: 10 minutes on treadmill, 10 minutes cycling, 10 minutes on the rowing machine.
Use a weighted vest of 10% of bodyweight when walking. Make sure weight in vest is evenly distibuted so you dont impair posture.
Workout for 30 continuous minutes M, W, and F using different modes of exercise at a challenging pace.
Circuit train with weights, body weight, or moving station to station. The key for bonus calorie burn is moving from upper to lower body in each circuit, with little to no rest per circuit. Example with bodyweight: 12 reps of push ups, lunges, plank pike, squats and dips, repeat 5 times.
Do high intensity interval training (HIIT) three times a week.
This workout below can be used on any fit machine, outside walking or running, biking, swimming, paddling, even in a hand powered wheelchair! Try it.
5-10 minute warm up. Alternate four minute bouts of high effort (RPE 16-17, hard) with three minutes of recovery (RPE 11-12, light). Repeat 9-10 times. 5-10 minute cool down.
To sum it? We have to shake things up to keep our bodies guessing. Mix up variables, intensities and sequences weekly challenges the body, and also limits boredom so we we can have more fun.
If you have any questions about these tips, let me know. Of course, if you have been inactive or recovering from an injury, start slowly and/or check with your doctor.
Sit-ups can strengthen your belly muscles, but doing them incorrectly can hurt your back. Sit-ups should be done while you lie on your back with your knees bent enough for the soles of your feet to touch the floor.
Place both hands on your chest and slowly raise your head off the ground. Raise your shoulders about one foot and then lower them to the ground. Do this slowly ten times, rest a few seconds and then do two more sets of ten. After a week or two this exercise will feel easy, so add a light weight held behind your neck or on your chest. As you become stronger, you can use heavier weights.
There’s no need to do more than 30 sit-ups in one workout. To strengthen your belly muscles, you increase the resistance, not the number of repetitions. Keep your knees bent to protect your back.
If you do a sit-up with your legs straight, you place a great force on the iliopsoas muscles that increase the arch in your back, which can damage the ligaments and joints. If your belly muscles are weak, you are likely to arch your back excessively when you sit up and increase the chances of injury. If you are doing sit-ups to flatten your stomach, you need to raise your head only about one foot because going higher than that uses the quadriceps muscles in the front of your upper legs, not your belly muscles.
Give Dr. Mirkins advice a try! Join me for 3 sets of 10 every day?
*Psst. Dr. Mirkin kindly allows me to post his content as long as I give him credit. He has a fantastic email newsletter with the latest health and fitness studies from the medical world. As a VirtualAthlete, focused on health and prevention, you will enjoy his yummy content. Grab a free e-book of healthy recipes while there! Dr. Gabe Mirkin Website
Want to love running more? To run like a kid again? To make running so easy and enjoyable again…just thinking about running brings a smile to your face and boosts your endorphins. Or do you want to come back from injury safely whilegetting stronger and faster?
You can do this and more. I promise. The secret key is YOU. You must focus on you.
Here are 6 free tips to get you started.
1. Get Taller: Great posture is the foundation of injury prevention and energy efficiency, especially when exercising and running. Lengthen that spine as you read this. Take a few deep breaths. Isn’t it easier to breathe upright? Now walk to a mirror to see how this posture looks and feels compared to your usual posture.
2. Get Aligned: Align your skeleton. Arms parallel underneath shoulders. Feet hip width and parallel. Walk, run and exercise aligned from now on.
3. Use your Core: Engage your lower abs always especially if you have back pain. This is your powerhouse. An engaged core protects back, knees and helps with balance. Keep core strong up hills and up and down stairs.
4. Use Your Arms: They are not along for the ride! Allow them to glide like buttah at a 90 degree angle on flats, and at 45 degree angle on hills. Think “elbows back.”
5. Use Physics: Allow your center of mass to fall slightly forward. This is actually rocket science! Okay, physics. Engineers really get this. If you center of mass goes forward, guess what else does? Your entire body!
This slight movement of your center is from the ankle (think of this lean like a tree falling, ski jumper, speed skater or as someone riding a scooter, skateboard or Segway). Don’t lean/bend from hips. Lean more to go faster and lean into hills as you go up them.
6. Quicken Your Stride. Try a shorter, quicker mid foot stride. Less time on ground equals less damage, right?
Practice this marching in place, then walking, then running while keeping a cadence of 1-2-3, repeat. You can also use a mini metronome, app or music set to 175-180 steps/beats per minute.
Yes! According to a research roundup from one of my favorite sport medicine doctors, Dr. Gabe Mirkin.
Running regularly, no matter how fast or slow, increases longevity and is cardio protective.
The Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study in Dallas followed more than 55,000 adults between 18 and 100 for 15 years, and found runners who ran regularly for at least six years lived three years longer than non runners – no matter what speed they ran.
And it does not take much running.
According to this study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, August 5, 2014, runners lived longer even if they only ran 1 or 2 times a week, less than 51 minutes.
Bonus! Regular runners also had 45 percent reduced risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke.
Running injuries are common but if you Chi Run as I wrote in my previous blog, you will be less prone to injury.
The key to running for years is to commit to running with good form, and focusing on injury prevention and energy efficiency, no matter what speed, with every step you take.
That is a small price to pay for the enormous ROI running provides for your body, mind and spirit.
Dr. Mirkin says (and I agree!) as you get more fit, you should consider increasing intensity for overall fitness and health – and to become a better athlete.
Like this kind of info? It is from a trusted source. Check it out.
Dr. Mirkin is a highly regarded, practicing doctor of four specialties. He has practiced for over over 50 years, and known as the “Godfather” of sports medicine. He has a fabulous site of all things health and fitness and a radio show.