i am very blessed to have her at all though. she has been in the field for over 30 years. she studied at the Academy of Sports Medicine and has recently gone back for her masters. shes trained olympic swimmers, olympic runners, an ex-miss america, and even moves in with and trains and cooks for some of her wealthy clientele. as i said, i am EXTREMELY lucky to have her as a trainer, as a client, and as a friend.
because shes trained olympic runners i thought it would be wise to get some half marathon training in with her, so every thursday until my half marathon, we are training. the last few sessions she has really taught me something i can never repay her for. something you would think i would already know. something i thought i was doing for the past year and a half, but i was wrong. She is teaching me how to run.
one foot in front of the other, as fast as you can. thats how to run- DUH!
she actually started preparing me for this a few months ago, i just didnt know it. we were training in the pool and she taught me how to breath like a swimmer. a (pro) swimmer, breaths on top of his breath. this means you inhale more than you exhale. inhale deeply, exhale, and before you let it all out, inhale again on top of that breath. this helps with buoyancy and not getting out of breath so quickly.
another thing shes been preparing me with for a while is my stride. she really watches feet. and she has turned me into a foot watcher. your toes should be facing forward when you walk, run, jog, or stand. basically, unless you're sitting, make a conscious effort to turn your damn feet straight. when i watch people on the treadmill or even running with me in races i totally notice their feet, and most of the time im thinking "OUCH!" that is how you hurt your ankle, that is how you hurt your knee, that is how you hurt your hips. some people will take the defense " i was born like that!" no you were not. it happens over time and the good news it is not a curse. it can be corrected, you just have to pay attention and force the correction. many peoples right foot turns out, something that we pick up from stepping on the pedal with our right foot while driving. were in a position that turns your foot outward. pay attention and correct it. i used to find that when i was running id turn my left foot in and my feet would hit each other. my first pair of running shoes has visible wear from this happening so much. but when my trainer pointed it out, i made a conscious effort to correct my stride. my newest pair of running shoes does not have the same wear.
the next thing shes been doing to prepare me all along is making me use the foam roller. i HATED that thing for a long time. it hurts. but she taught me it is NOT the roller that hurts, its your body that hurts. the roller is releasing the toxins and pain. of course i thought she was full of shit, but shed never let me down in the past so i chose to trust her and continue using the roller. there are parts of my body that rolling on brought me to TEARS a year ago. there are parts of my body that made me drip sweat to roll. not because its hard, because it HURT. but now? im a damn professional roller! i can roll on any body part in any direction and it feels GOOD. i am so addicted to the roller that being in MA for a week was too long away from it so i bought one to leave at my moms house. i love it for when i have back pain, but as a runner, i love to roll my hips and legs with it. any time i notice the least bit of discomfort while i run i am sure to roll on that space before my next run and its almost always an instant fix. sometimes takes a couple days of rolling.
an exercise i love to hate is one of our running exercises. basically, you put your feet together, heels down, about 3' or so from a wall(depends on your height and arm length), hands on the wall, and push your hips forward. then she will have me lift my knee and kick forward. first slowly, and then fast and syncopated in counts of 3 or 8. this might sound like a piece of cake but it is HARD especially when you really focus on keeping your hips forward and bringing your knee up. but when you run thats what you should be doing! bring your knees us and keep your hips forward! i will make a video of my doing this on tuesday at the gym so you can understand, and then try it, and then shoot yourself in the face because its so hard. youre welcome :) this has REALLY helped with my back while running. i used to have back pain by mile 3, but if you are pushing your hips forward, you dont hunch over, and then your back doesnt hurt! magic! :-P
when i was training on thursday, she nearly gave me a stroke. she had me on the treadmill, barefoot. she says in her ASM days not a single person in the gym wore shoes. she is helping me to increase my "comfort speed" which is a 5.5. thats the speed i feel like i can set the treadmill on and just go all day. i sweat, but its not painful, im not dying for it to be over, i am just cruising along. so what she has me do is two minutes at 5.5, one minute at 7, two at 5.5, one at 7- repeat as many times as you/she wants. a 7.0 is hard. but she made it VERY hard.
first of all, running on a treadmill is not like running on the ground. if you want to pretend youre running on the ground you need to be at a 2.0 incline. if you do not use that incline- when you get on the street to run, you will be very disappointed to find you are much slower off of the treadmill.
ok, back to my torture session. so there i am, barefoot and running at a 5.5. in order to make sure that really is my comfort speed, she made me sing the alphabet. you should be able to talk while you run. even if its a struggle. if you cannot speak, that is not a comfortable speed for you and you will never be able to maintain it. (im about to side track for a minute- this applies to ALL workouts. the better shape youre in, the easier itll be to talk. she ALWAYS talks to me during my workouts- and these are conversations requiring responses. it DRIVES ME INSANE. and then one day she explained to me she doesnt only do it to see if i can respond, but because it applies to life. when in life do you get to do one thing at a time?! were always multitasking- so practice in your workout. also- if youre not thinking about your conversation with her, theres a good chance youre thinking about how hard this is and how much you suck. my trainer does a lot of workouts that require thinking in order to get it done. these are awesome because they force you to think about what youre doing and not all the other bullshit circulating in your brain. when my mom trainer with her she said "i dont want to think!!!" and my trainer replied "no, you just want to think about other things and i am forcing you to shut those thoughts off in order to focus on your workout" she was right.)ok, back to my torture session.
so there i am, running at a 5.5, barefoot, and singing the alphabet. my trainer starts telling me to let my leg go even further back before pulling it forward. let it glide back as farrrrrrrrrrr as it can. think of running like this- you are FLOATING. the ground is simply a surface to push off of here and there. let your body float over the ground and that allow that small push off the ground to propel you as far forward as possible- dont interrupt your body by bringing your leg up too soon. let it finish the stride. next, she was talking to me about my breath, breathe on top of your breath as if you are swimming. use you breath so that you become lighter and can glide over the ground. move your entire body in the direction youre going. toes facing forward, and your arms? should be moving forward! we have a habit of crossing our fists in front of our chest while we run and they should really be going forward and back forward and back. on the treadmill, line your hands up with the water bottle holders on either side and bring them forward and back, do not let them cross in front of you.
now this sounds kind of therapeutic, huh? NOT AT ALL. I literally was concerned i might have a panic attack right there on the treadmill. first off- no shoes is just not normal for me, so that was weird. second, i had SO MANY THINGS TO THINK ABOUT!!! my mind had no room for my "i cant do this!!!" thoughts so it began to panic. third- when the treadmill is at a 7.0 you naturally just want to move your legs as fast as damn possible!!! but shes telling you NO! dont move as fast as possible! let your back leg go as farrrrrr back as possible. slow down. SLOW DOWN?! im on a 7.0 treadmill!!! how to slow down?!! i will fall off!!!!! but i did slow down. when you let your leg drift back and lift with your knee forward you take a much larger stride, with much less energy required. your body actually moves slower, but it travels just as far because your steps are larger. i wanted to cry when she let me off the treadmill. literally. but the next day i went to my own gym and did it again (with shoes- theyre required at most public gyms) and it was SO much easier. i did run further, i did run faster, and i appreciate her torturing me.
my time has improved, im in much less pain after long distances, and i feel excited for my race (two weeks from today!!). tomorrow i will be hopping back on complete clean eating until then (with the exception of Christmas eve/day i may have a drink). i am GOING to crush this race!!! :-D