I have to be honest with you; I have a love-hate relationship with running.  I’ve argued against it for years and still see valid points on why people should not run as much as they do.  The beating your body takes when you put tons of miles on it goes without question.  On the other hand, there are lots of benefits to running - not only physically but mentally.

Several months ago I decided that I really wanted to focus on leaning out and wanted to add a challenge rather than being a hamster at the gym climbing the stairs to nowhere, walking to the sounds of opera, or last being a champion of the elliptical.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used all of these tools to get lean, and when its 120 degrees here in Phoenix, I’m not against a return visit to one of these old faithfuls.  However, this time I set a goal to conquer the track, which led to me stretching my runs out to see if I could run a few miles.  I tried to not be too hard on myself, as my knee surgery was a year ago and my focus had not been on running for several years. HOWEVER, I was terrible!  Picture this, a tall, red-faced guy running down the road with my chest feeling like someone put a giant weight on it, a side that had knife shoved into it, and legs that felt about 300lbs each!  Let’s just say it was not a good sight.  After a month of building up the miles I felt like I’m able to string together a few miles and not want to cry. I decided I want to add a little change to push myself and use this as my cardio for the next few months.  Enter Ben signing up for his first half marathon.  Excited and scared shitless at the same time, I laid out my training program with a little help from some friends. On my end, I wanted to make sure that I did not lose muscle mass, or suffer injury while preparing.

Step ONE - Mobility:  Make sure that you are working to keep your body healthy and moving the way it should be as you add the extra stress of long runs.  Work on ankles, knees, and hips, as they are the main areas being trained.  Lastly, don’t forget about the upper body. So many runners are hunched forward and look like someone who sits at a computer all day. 

Here are a few things to get you started:

1. Foam roll - Areas to focus on:  piriformis, IT Band, vastus medialis

2. Mobility - buddha squat, spiderman walk, wall slides

3. Stretch - forward fold, solues(calves) stretch, quad stretch

Step TWO – Nutrition:  I’ve seen people get fat from doing extra running because they feel like they can eat whatever they want.  Yes, you will be burning extra calories and you will need to up your carbohydrate intake, but don’t take this as a pass to eat complete garbage every day.  Having a doughnut after a 10mile run is okay, but having the people at Dunkin’ Doughnuts know you by first name is probably not a good thing.

Step THREE - Consider adding in a BCAA supplement to your runs:  This will help you from catabolism of your muscles especially when you are going for long runs.  Before you even consider BCAAs make sure that you are taking in enough water each and every day.

Step FOUR - Don’t skip the weights: I was having a talk with a girl who crushed her old marathon time by over 20mins and she ran less in her training that she had in the past several years.  She added in more strength circuits and weight training sessions and was better prepared for the beating her body was going to take. 

Step FIVE - Rest: The same goes for any training, but rest is crucial part of being able to perform any part of training.

I’m not writing this to encourage you to turn into a runner; however I am encouraging you to challenge yourself, to try something new, and to get better each and every day!

Yours in Health

Ben