Find Your Happy Place

It’s Springtime in Iowa! We know what that means... The birds are back, the buds and blooming and many of our MAC members are antsy to lace-up and leave behind that long, cold Winter. And who can blame them? With 5k, 10k and half marathon races galore being advertised this time of year, it’s hard not to get into the competitive spirit! Besides that, the benefits of lacing up and hitting the pavement (or treadmill) can be massive! Running can help lower your resting heart rate and your blood pressure as well as improving your bone density and body composition. However, with every great reward also comes a little risk (I mean, HELLO! Shin spints anyone?). That’s why we want to make sure that all of our members have the tools in their kit to “find their happy pace”! Being your best when being active, all starts with a good warm-up. Running utilizes every muscle in your legs, so a good dynamic warm-up (stay away from ‘static’ stretching pre-run if you can) that targets your legs, hips and core is key. Here are our top 3 favorite dynamic warm-ups for runners:

  1. Body weight walking lunges with a trunk/torso twist
  2. Dynamic Hurdlers/Gate Openers
    1. Lift one knee to 90* and then open the hip laterally, as if to lift the leg up and over a hurdle
    2. Keep abs braced to maintain balance
  3. Hip Swings
    1. Using a wall for support, stand on one leg and swing the opposite leg laterally in front of the body, then out to the side as though it were a pendulum

Once you feel warm and ready, it’s time to lace up! And while walking, jogging and running often come naturally to us, there are a few things we can all keep in mind to help keep us safe and staying active…

  1. Start slow, even though you’ve warmed up, your muscles, ligaments and tendons still need a few minutes to really ‘get in the groove’
  2. Where is the wear? Try and land each stride on your midfoot (unless you’re sprinting, in which case you’ll want to ‘toe off’ immediately into your next stride)
    1. Pro tip: Not sure where you’re landing your strides? Set an old pair of running shoes on a level surface, and take a look at how and where the sole is worn down, where the wear is greater is where the shoe is taking the most impact. For example, if the heel seems more compact than the rest of the sole, you may be a “heel striker”
  3. Keep it loose! Try, as best you can, to keep shoulders/upper arms and neck relaxed during longer jogs/runs. Holding those muscles too tightly/stiffly can affect how easily your arms swing during your stride, rob you of energy and even effect how easily you’re able to breathe.
  4. Shorten your stride. While it seems like it should make sense to cover as much ground as you can with each step, this can actually increase the impact force on your joints, making runs harder and injuries more likely.

If you’re ready to kick it up a notch, or put your skills to the test, keep your eyes peeled for local area fun runs, 5k races and more! Bonus: Often these events support local charities, or have fun twists (such as Color Runs, obstacle courses and more!). For more information on when and where races in the Cedar Rapids are happening, check out Running In The USA's website. Happy running! ______________________________________________________________________________   Sources: