5 Ways to Play the Long Game

We are an immediate gratification society. It’s not a complaint, it’s a fact. Technology makes everything available in a matter of seconds. Our favorite music is on demand, our splits and pace are just a click away.

How many Garmin pictures do YOU see on Instagram every day?

Every other running blog/twitter buddy is telling their thousands of followers that you can run a marathon in 6 weeks because THEY did. You can run three marathons in two months because THEY did. You can run a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and full marathon in 3 days because THEY did.

And you could.

If you’re in it for the short game.

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The long game is playing for the win at the end of the game, not leading at halftime. In running, that translates into smart training, strategic racing, and taking the time to recover properly.

You can DO anything you want. You can run a marathon a week. You can run back-to-back marathons on a Saturday and a Sunday. You can exclusively run, and maybe throw in the occasional plank and foam rolling session, and ignore that nagging foot pain.

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If you’re in it for the long game, here are 5 things you need to do:

1. Strength train. Don’t argue with me about it. Just do it. You need it, I promise.

2. Space out your goal races (key word: RACES, not fun runs)

  • 5-6 months between marathons
  • 3-4 months between half marathons
  • 2-3 months between 10Ks
  • 1-2 months between 5Ks

3. Cycle your training. High mileage weeks mixed in with low mileage weeks, track repeats mixed with tempo runs, hill workouts mixed with strides.

Run beastly hills. I suggest running them with friends.

Run beastly hills. I suggest running them with friends.

4. Address your aches and pains. Yes, I’m in physical therapy and I’m totally biased but overuse injuries will come back to haunt you. Get them fixed. Do your PT homework.

5. Respect your rest days/weeks. Take the time to recover from your race before you go bananas training into the next. TAKE TIME OFF FROM RUNNING.

Have a tough time taking time off? Snuggle a baby. You'll never want to move.

Have a tough time taking time off? Snuggle a baby. You’ll never want to move.

Play the long game. You want to be running when you’re 101, right?

Fauja Singh, age 101.  (Image courtesy of Getty Images)

Fauja Singh, age 101.
(Image courtesy of Getty Images)

Run smart, friends.

Now go out and run.

Blink

Blink and you’ll miss it. Life. It’s happening right now and I have no idea how to slow it down.

I’ve been woefully absent from this blog for all the very best reasons. My beautiful son and gorgeous husband fill my days and weekends and school steals every free hour I will allow. Holidays and vacations from school are the times when I step away from all things related to “work”, this blog included.

Because if I blink, I will miss it.

I will not miss these moments.

I will not miss these moments. I refuse to miss these moments.

The other day, someone asked me if I was training for a marathon. I told them no. They followed that up with, “I guess you’re not running then, huh?”

I don’t just run to race. I don’t just race marathons. The last race I ran was in September 2013 and I don’t have any intention of attempting another one until July 2015.

Spending a lot of time at Refine Method these days. Get strong before you go long!

Spending a lot of time at Refine Method these days. Get strong before you go long!

And I’m still running and I’m still a runner.

I don’t feel bad about stepping back from training. I feel confident that I am taking good care of my post-baby, post-cesarean section body by not pushing back into training. As an almost-PT, I know full well what will happen to my body if I do.

Plus, running and training take a ton of time for me.  I don’t want to blink and miss my tiny man’s moments.

Wouldn't miss it for the world.

Wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I know a lot of new moms and dads feel guilty about taking the time to go for a run. Don’t. Some may not feel the pull back to the road for a while. That’s ok, too. Don’t regret those moments that passed by because you felt obligated to be somewhere else doing something else.

Priorities change for so many reasons. Go with the flow. Do what you need to do. Don’t let the haters get you down. Don’t let the crazies make you feel like a lazy ass. Hakuna matata, friend.

Running will always be there.

Now go out and run…or not.

Core Series: Hip Flexors

The hip flexor is actually made up of 2 different muscles: Psoas Major/Minor and Iliacus.

iliopsoas_muscle_lg

I like color-coded things.

As you can see, the Psoas muscle comes from spinal attachments. And Iliacus comes from internal hip boney attachments. So why are they “iliopsoas”, one muscle?

Because they essentially fuse once they cross the hip joint.

BUUUUUUUUUT, this makes it that much more complicated of a muscle group where core work is concerned.

A weak or tight psoas muscle can cause one side of your pelvis to tip forward. This is called an anterior innominate and it ain’t right.

Yeah, but only on ONE side. OUCH.

Yeah, but only on ONE side. OUCH.

It can also cause a twisting motion to happen because the muscle attachments are at an angle from the spine to the hip. Double ouch.

The Iliacus is a whole different beast. It attaches on the inside of your hip wing (Ilium) and then shares a common attachment with the psoas on your femur (thigh bone) at the lesser trochanter.

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The green colored spots are the lesser trochanter on the medial (inside) part of your femur (thigh) bone.

Can you see how if these muscles are tight or weak that they might affect your core? And your gait, right? Huge. These two muscles are not just straight up and down and they have big jobs in multiple movements of the trunk and legs.

Here’s how to keep these hip flexors happy and healthy:

1. Pelvic tilts (Beginner)

Lying on your bed or another soft, level surface, place a pillow under your knees. WITHOUT PUSHING INTO YOUR FEET (tip, put something under your feet that you don’t want to crush, ie. your phone), draw your belly button toward your spine. Slowly return to neutral.

Neutral spine (slight curve is natural)

Neutral spine (slight curve is natural)

Spine curves and belly draws down to create a concave curve.

Spine curves and belly draws down to create a concave curve.

Repeat 10 times WITHOUT SQUEEZING YOUR BUTT. And remember, don’t put any weight in your feet.

2. Heel slides (Intermediate)

Lying on the floor with your socks on and knees bent, slowly allow one leg to straighten and pull it back to being bent WITHOUT LETTING YOUR HIP HIKE. You can place your hands on your headlights so you can feel them move.

Start with your leg straight.

Start with your leg straight.

Slowly drag your heel toward your butt (no weight in your feet!)

Slowly drag your heel toward your butt (no weight in your feet!)

NO HIP HIKING (this is hip hiking)

NO HIP HIKING (this is hip hiking)

This is what your hips should look like. No hiking. Totally level.

This is what your hips should look like. No hiking. Totally level.

How not to let them move? Suck your belly button in and go slowly.

3. Straight leg raises (Advanced)

Lying on a flat surface with one leg straight and one knee bent, lift your straight leg as high as you can WITHOUT PUSHING INTO YOUR FOOT OR HIKING YOUR HIP.

Start with your leg straight.

Start with your leg straight.

Only go as high as you can go WITHOUT HIKING YOUR HIP.

Only go as high as you can go WITHOUT HIKING YOUR HIP.

Doing these exercises correctly is the key. You can do this stuff and throw your leg around easily. BUT can you do it without hiking your hip or squeezing your butt?

If you feel wimpy for doing just the pelvic tilts, don’t. They are like the ballet of hip flexor exercises. You have to perfect and maintain your form with the pelvic tilts in order to do ANY other hip flexor exercise. This is why I suggest doing them no matter how strong you get.

(PS. All my new moms NEED to be doing pelvic tilts and heel slides, especially C-section mamas!)

Let’s make strong, happy hips, shall we?

Now go out and run!

SNEAK PEEK! NYC Marathon Exclusive Gear!

You guys know of my love of Lululemon. If you don’t, I do. I love their stuff. I am a proud Ambassador Alumni and love when I get the chance to share cool stuff from them with you.

This year, they wanted to show all you NYC Marathon runners some special love and create products exclusively for you. And I got a chance to try it all on today!

Run Inspire II Luxtreme Crops ($96)

My go-to crops anyway. Add my city's skyline = instant favorite!

My go-to crops anyway. Add my city’s skyline = instant favorite!

Best crops ever now with the reflective NYC skyline on them. They fit true to your normal Run Inspire II size and are in the traditional luxtreme fabric, which is the only way to go for all sweaty activities.

Mens/Ladies Sweatshirt ($198)

My buddy GB modeling the men's sweatshirt. Lookin good, GB!

My buddy GB modeling the men’s sweatshirt. Lookin good, GB!

So, the men’s sweatshirt is just black on the front, but the women’s has the skyline in gold (modeled by yours truly). I dig the sleeves and the skyline on the back. It’s SUPER comfortable and something to snuggle down in post-marathon.

Here’s the skinny on getting the gear:

  • It’s only available in MANHATTAN stores starting THIS THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30th.
  • There is an extremely limited supply in each of the stores.
  • The gear WILL NOT be available at the Lululemon marathon after party on Sunday.

Full disclosure, they had me fit test the pants and let me keep them. My opinions are all my own (just ask my husband).

Happy shopping! And good luck running the boroughs this weekend!

Now go out and run.

 

Race Day Gamble

First off, congratulations to everyone who ran the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend. You guys know how I love the Marines and this race, so OORAH! to all my fellow runners!

Big fan.

Big fan.

This weekend is the New York City Marathon. For so many runners, it’s a bucket list race. And it’s great, it really is. Running all 5 boroughs is something I wish for every New Yorker to experience once. It’s electrifying.

Of the 40,000 runners toe the line this Sunday, most would have trained for this day for several months, logged hundreds of miles, and perfected everything from fluid to chafe prevention.

You can do everything perfectly…

…and it still might not be your day.

I might use this meme too much, but it's just so perfect.

I might use this meme too much, but it’s just so perfect.

There are too many reasons to list as to why you might bomb out your race. The bottom line is that it’s ok.

It’s ok to be mad. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to be disappointed. It’s ok to not want to smile when people say, “Smile! You’re a marathoner!” It’s ok to want to kick those people in the shins. (It is not ok to actually kick people, didn’t your mother teach you anything?)

It’s ok. It sucks. I’m sorry that it wasn’t your day.

You can try to figure out what went awry. You can re-play the race in your head to see if there’s something you need to adjust. You can try a different training program next time.

In the end, it’s sometimes just not your day. Getting your mind wrapped around that idea helps in the absence of an actual explanation. In that case, chalk it up to a shitty day and move on.

Hang your medal proudly next to the others. Eat your celebratory meal. Enjoy the week off from running and know that it’s just one race. You’ll get over the disappointment, I promise.

Promise.

Promise.

There’s another race that will be your race. You’ll find it.

Now go out and run.