Archive for April, 2014

The do’s and don’ts of race running

DO have a shake out—and it doesn’t have to be a run
The day before, you want a micro workout that loosens and primes your muscles to kill it the next morning. That can be a quickie run, but feel free to cross-train—a dozen laps in the pool, a yoga session, a 30-minute ride on a fat-tire bike. All good options.

DON’T just carbo-load on bread
Yes, the two days prior to your race you should be amping carbs so that they account for about 60 to 70 percent of what you eat; this will help store much-needed fuel in your muscles, say SELF contributing experts and New York City dieticians Willow Jarosh and Stephanie Clarke. But you still need protein and healthy fats, so this isn’t carte blanche to go on the pancake diet. (Though that sounds like an amazing diet.) This platter, pictured, represents a family-sized version of what your plate should look like at each meal: Half of it brightly colored produce, a quarter lean protein, and a quarter whole grains or starchy veggies. One hundred percent delicious.

DO plan for more than the race…with one caveat
Whether you’re in for a destination tri or the local 10k, it’s easy to have tunnel-vision when planning your weekend. But if you don’t plot fun things for the day before you bib-up, you’ll just obsess about your pace and whether you’re ready. Preoccupy yourself. Spend time at the Expo (often they’ll have cool demos, talks and giveaways), cruise a new town, chill with friends. Just, you know, don’t make the itinerary four hours of museum walking or standing at a concert. Stack that kind of time on your feet for the end of the weekend itinerary.

DON’T change your morning ritual
That breakfast you had before last week’s long run, and the week before that, and the week before that? That’s what you’re having race morning. No substitutions. You’ve tested it (ahh, right?) and you know it works for your stomach and gives you enough fuel for the first miles. Our go-to: Delicious Nuttzo spread over a banana for the perfect combo of muscle-fueling carbs and protein, plus a large cup of coffee for get-up, but not too much go.

DO roll out pre-start
Three minutes is enough to wake up and loosen muscles, and relax any kinks. [NOTE: This hard, knobby foam roller was dangerously close to a “don’t”; stick with softer and/or smooth rollers if your muscles are tight.]

Don’t forget about your finish line pic
You will have one—and it’s up to you to make it more memorable than sucking wind and looking spent. Throw your hands in the air, pump your fist, or follow associate fitness editor Jaclyn Emerick’s lead and grab a roadie from the crowd to guzzle. At the bare minimum, look up and smile! You did it, girl.

DO hit up the free massage table afterward
?Even if there’s a line of runners queuing up, don’t sweat it; this is worth the wait. Research shows that just 10 minutes of massage post-workout can help you feel less sore the next day. More important, it’ll feel amazing that instant.

DON’T say no to any treat post race
You know how they say calories don’t count on your birthday? Well, HBD, because the same goes for the hours after the finish line. You killed it on the course, we know, so feel good eating or drinking whatever you please afterward—it’s just this one day. We doubled—fine, tripled—down on roasted banana, coconut and chocolate-chunk cakes. Total truth: Though they’re ridiculously tasty, they’re also kinda healthy.

DO take a rest day
Just like drinks and treats, you earned a break. Take a day, two, three even—but then immediately create and write down your next goal. Could be a race. Or maybe it’s deadlifting your body weight, holding Crow’s pose, or trying every group class on your gym’s schedule. Just as long as your goal’s lined up, so you don’t let up.

Weight room blunders that can really hurt

By Michelle Hamilton

updated 11/6/2011 12:20:20 PM ET

Women are hitting the weight room in record numbers, and a new study found that weight-training injuries among women have jumped a whopping 63 percent. Here are the most common slipups and how to fix them, so you leave the gym strutting — not limping.

The mistake: skipping your warm-up

You wouldn’t launch into an all-out sprint the second you stepped onto a treadmill, so you shouldn’t jump right into deadlifts the instant you hit the weight room. “Working cold, stiff muscles can lead to sprains and tears,” says Morey Kolber, Ph.D., a professor of physical therapy at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. “Warming up increases circulation and improves range of motion, which preps your muscles and joints for action.”

The fix: “While opinions about static stretching may differ, a dynamic warm-up can decrease your risk for injury,” says exercise physiologist Marco Borges, author of Power Moves. After five to 10 minutes of walking or jogging, do 10 to 12 lunges and pushups (the bent-knee version is fine) before starting your routine

The mistake: using sloppy form
Experts agree that proper form is the single most important factor in injury prevention, yet many women don’t give it a lot of thought —especially when they’re in a rush. And women, thanks to their naturally wider hips, are more at risk for form-related injuries than men are: One study found that women had nearly twice as many leg and foot injuries as guys did.

The fix: Before you begin any exercise, think S.E.A.K., says trainer Robbi Shveyd, owner of Advanced Wellness in San Francisco: Stand straight (head over shoulders; shoulders over hips; hips over feet), eyes on the horizon (looking down encourages your shoulders to round and your chest to lean forward), abs tight (as if you were about to be punched in the gut, but without holding your breath; this helps stabilize your pelvis), and knees over your second toe (women’s knees have a tendency to turn in because of the angle created by wider hips, says Joan Pagano, author of Strength Training for Women).

The mistake: stressing our your shoulders

As crazy as it sounds, women who lift weights tend to have less-stable shoulder joints than women who don’t lift at all, found a recent study. The reason: Doing too many exercises in which your elbows are pulled behind your body (think chest flies and rows) can overstretch the connective tissue in the front of the joints. If the backs of your shoulders are tight, you’re even more likely to overstretch the front, increasing the imbalance at the joint, says Kolber.

The fix: Modify your moves. First, don’t allow your elbows to extend more than two inches behind your body. In the lowering phase of a bench press, for example, stop when your elbows are just behind you. Second, avoid positioning a bar behind your head. Bring the lat-pulldown bar in front of your shoulders, and when you’re doing an overhead press, use dumbbells instead of a bar and keep the weights in your line of vision (meaning just slightly in front of your head).

Tend to aching muscles with this rejuvenating foam roller routine

The mistake: neglecting opposing muscle groups

“Many women have strength imbalances, which can make them more prone to injury,” says Shveyd. Sometimes they’re the result of your lifestyle (hovering over a desk all day, for example, tightens and weakens your hip flexors while your glutes become overstretched and inactive). Other times they’re caused by not working both sides of the body equally (say, focusing on moves that rely on your quads but not your hamstrings).

The fix: For every exercise that works the front of the body (chest, biceps, quads), be sure to do an exercise that targets the rear (back, triceps, hamstrings). For instance, pair stability-ball chest presses with dumbbell rows, or step-ups with deadlifts.

The mistake: doing too much too soon

A lot of people think that more is better — more reps, more sets, more weight. But if you increase any of these things too quickly, your body may not be able to handle the extra workload.

“Gradual conditioning prevents injuries such as torn ligaments and tendinitis, because your muscles and connective tissues have time to adapt,” says Pagano.

The fix: Practice a three-step progression. First, learn to do a move using only your body weight. “When you can do 15 reps with proper form, add weight,” says Pagano. Second, stick to one set with light weights for two weeks or until you feel comfortable with the move. And finally, when you can complete nearly all of your reps with proper form, add another set or more weight (increase weight by roughly 10 percent each time).