Minimum Leg Day

Many of you have asked me about strength training for your legs. I do two days of legs a week:

  • Maintenance Day
  • Plyometrics Day

Maintenance Day is an absolute MUST for every runner. You hit all of the muscle groups in the legs and hips to ensure maximum strength for those long runs. Here are the absolute minimum leg exercises that you should be doing every single week.

  1. Leg Extensions
  2. Hamstring Curls
  3. Squats (or Stand-up/Sit downs) OR Lunges (or both, if you can)
  4. Standing Calf Raises
  5. 3 Hip Exercises

For a brush-up on squat form, see this post. For a visual, you should look like this:

Exercises #1-4 should be done at a challenging weight. What does that mean? It means that you do 3 sets at a weight that makes this happen: the first one is no problem, second one is more challenging, the third one you should struggle to get to the 10th rep and have to push hard to get to the 12th. If you’re not struggling on the last set, the weight isn’t heavy enough to be making a difference in your life. If you can’t get through the 2nd or 3rd set at all, it’s too heavy. Back off.

For Exercises #5, see this post on stronger hips (see the photos below for a preview).

If you commit to your strength routine the way you commit to your running schedule, you will be a very successful runner. If you ignore your gym workouts, you will be a very sorry runner. So, hit the gym and get ‘er done!

Now go out and run!

Make the Investment In Yourself

Christmas/Hanukah shopping is in full-swing, if not at critical mass, and people are dropping serious dough on the ones they love before the holidays officially start on Wednesday. In our family, we do a Secret Santa among the “kids” in my family because I am one of 5 and when you add in the significant others/spouses, it just gets ridiculous. So, besides coming up with a fabulous gift for JB, coordinating for our parents, getting the one Secret Santa gift and trying to stop myself from shopping even more for my fat little angle baby niece, Christmas shopping is pretty easy for me.

Shopping for others is easy for me.

Thoughtful presents for parents/loved ones? I got you covered! By the way, how is it possible the Post Office is so broke with all the presents and cards I'm mailing?

Investing in myself is not always so easy-breezy.

JB wants a tree for five days? Sure, we'll get a tree!

I have such a hard time spending on myself. Why is that?

Why can we find and spend on everyone else but ourselves? Some of it is <insert religion> guilt (Catholics/Jews, you feel me on this one), but the same could be said for any other type of religion/parenting/upbringing that encourage you to think only of others and never yourself. It’s not all a bad thing, mind you, and I don’t mean to rag on Catholicism or Judaism but it’s just something I personally struggle to find the balance between.

As a runner, I pride myself in being able to just lace up my shoes and run out the door, no fancy equipment required.

Got shoes? Can run!

But then I get an awesome new gadget for my birthday and my running is that much more enjoyable and I can tailor my workouts even more to the goals I have. Why did I wait so long to get my Garmin when I am absolutely at that place in my running career where pace/tempo/time matters to me?

My Garmin was a total life-saver in Philly!

I’m getting a lot better at investing in myself (ahem, NYU), thanks to JB and some very encouraging friends. Because, when you break things down, what are the cost equivalents for your health vs. other stuff?

  • $30 = Flywheel class or 3 drinks at a bar (~1 night out for most of us)
  • $90 = new pair of Brooks Defyance shoes or 1 dinner out (you know: drinks, dinner, dessert, tip…it adds up)
  • $20 = copay to see me favorite chiropractor or 1 movie with a snack
  • $76 = 1 month gym membership for winter treadmill running or going out for lunch once (or twice) a week for a month
  • $85 = lululemon run: inspire crops that last FOREVER and never chafe or 1 haircut I could honestly skip because my hair is always a mess pulled back in the winter
  • $12 = 1 yoga class at Laughing Lotus or 1 cheap-o manicure (tip not included)
  • $100= marathon race entry or Starbucks coffee 5 days a week (thank goodness I don’t drink coffee!)

This is what goes through my head when I’m budgeting every month for my fitness. As I get older and as my disease starts to make itself known in my everyday life, I am now more aware than ever how important it is for me to take good care of myself and make the investment in my physical health FIRST.

Cross training is a must. Flywheel class > boozy night on the town

Drinking, eating out, going to the movies and gorging on unhealthy snacks, these things don’t usually make me feel better. There’s a time and a place for them, but when they become the priority, I know I’ve lost my grip on what’s important in my life. My health, my happiness, my well-being have to come first. For me, that means I make lunch so I can afford Flywheel, yoga and a gym membership during the winter. My toenails are pretty bare throughout the winter so I can get those new pair of running shoes that I need. I invest in the right running clothes that will last because that just makes good sense.

And your time. Your time is so valuable and scarce. How do you spend it? What gets top priority?

Like I said, there’s a balance. But if you find yourself making time for your favorite sitcom or to catch up on your TiVo and not for your daily workout, don’t you think it’s something to re-evaluate? I do.

What do you give up so you can be the best, healthiest you? What aren’t you willing to give up? Tell me about it in the comments!

Now go out and run!