Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Richard Simmons Moment

I had such a great workout this evening!
I did another hill workout and I felt so strong throughout. I even ran at a bit faster pace than usual. I finished 4 miles in 38:33 with 7 hill intervals. I ran an average pace of 9:40 and sprinted at a 7:30 pace for the last .2 miles.

Afterwards, I came home to a delicious dinner! While I was working out, I had a couple sweet potatoes baking. The husband threw steaks on the grill, and I prepared some broccoli. It was SO GOOD!

My plate:

Husband's plate:

I only ate half of my steak, because the rest was so filling. By the way, I LOVE adding a little cinnamon and sugar to my baked sweet potatoes. It's probably my second favorite way to eat them (besides sweet potato fries, of course!).

I had so many endorphins flowing after my workout, and I totally wanted to celebrate with a beer.

Okay, my last few posts I have been talking up the last-minute plan I am adding to my half marathon training. Last week, I switched my races from a road race to a trail race. The bad thing about this switch is that I have not been running on dirt/woodsy trails or doing much hill training.

My first plan to adjust to my new race surface was to add a few hill workouts on the treadmill, like what I did tonight. I plan on completing one more 4 or 5 mile run with hill intervals early next week.

Now, when I work with any patient with a knee injury, I always think I should be doing these exercises, too! Some injuries occur simply due to muscle imbalance, weakness, and/or decreased flexibility. The thought of running over roots and rocks makes me a little nervous that I may twist an ankle or knee.

For these reasons, I have also added the following exercises to my program. I started these exercises on Monday and am completing them daily. Although I decided to start this program to help my body withstand the uneven terrain, these are also excellent exercises to be doing when running on ANY surface (road, treadmill, beach, whateva!).

Below, I demo each exercise. The hubby was nice enough to take the pictures, though he did so grudgingly... :)

Hip Abduction: The hip abductors are prime stabilizing muscles of the hips when running. Weakness in this area can lead to problems in the hips, knee, ankle and foot. Simply start in the above side-lying position (bend your bottom leg for balance purposes), and lift the top leg to about 45 degrees. The goal is not to lift your leg up to your head, but just through a nice, slow motion. I do 3 sets of 10 on each side.

Hip Adduction: The hip adductors are commonly forgotten when strength-training. These muscles are important in stabilizing the medial hip and knee. Cross the top leg over the bottom as shown above. Lift the bottom leg up in the air nice and slowly. Again, I complete 3 sets of 10 on each side.

Straight Leg Raise: This is a great, basic exercise for strengthening the quads and hip flexors. The quadriceps are the 4 main muscles in the front of the thigh that join to form the patellar tendon, which passes over the knee cap and attaches just below the knee. Bend one leg to protect your back and straighten the other leg on the ground. Squeeze your thigh muscles and THEN lift your leg. You only need to lift the leg to the height of the opposite knee. The goal is not to lift your leg as far back as possible! If you turn your leg out a little (externally rotate the hip), you may target the vastus medialis obliquus (the innermost quadriceps muscle). 3 sets of 10, yo!

Speaking of VMOs, I forgot to take a picture of the VMO isometrics! They are easy to describe, though:

VMO Isometrics: This exercise will help strengthen the VMO, which is commonly a weak point. Weak VMOs are one reason someone may have patellofemoral pain, so they are an important muscle to strengthen! Sitting in a chair, raise both legs straight out in front of you and HOLD. Work up to 5 sets of 1 minute holds. If you have ankle weights or a medicine ball (3-8 pounds will work just fine, depending on your strength), add those! Another way to add resistance is to use a (clean) gallon of milk. If the gallon is half full of water, it weighs about 4 lbs, and a full gallon of water would weigh about 8 lbs. Milk jugs work well, because the edge can rest between your shins, making it easier to hold the weight.

Single Leg Stance: You may be surprised at how HARD your muscles have to work to stabilize your body when you stand on one leg! You might want to try this exercise without a pillow at first, but as your strength improves, you can use a bed or throw pillow. Couch cushions are also a great challenge! Hold your stance 3 times for 1 minute on each leg.

Heel Raises: I also forgot a picture of these, but I think many of you are familiar with this exercise anyway. Heel raises are great exercises to help prevent shin splints. The key is to lower your heels back to the ground SLOWLY. Beginners can do standard double leg heel raises and build up to single leg. Again, 3 sets of 10 (it's the magic number!).

Finally, I gotta give props to my foam roller! Many people have tight iliotibial (IT) bands and don't even realize it! A tight IT band may also be a cause of patellofemoral syndrome. The above pic is a demo of how to roll that sucker out on your own. It hurts (note the nice look on my face), but it hurts so good. I usually roll out each side for 1-2 minutes, because that's about all I can take if they are really sore!

I also have to give some love to my co-star, Angel.

Seriously, as soon as I get on the floor for anything, the cats flock to me!

I hope you enjoyed my li'l exercise plan. There are obviously tons more exercises, and they can become more advanced if you are actually completing a therapy program, but I'm just making due with what I have available in my house (although if I have extra time I work, I try to use some of the fun equipment!).

If you have any questions, you can email me at I also want to clarify that if you think you have an injury, please see a doctor or physical therapist to get a thorough exam. In order to most accurately diagnose an injury, a professional has to see you in person!


  1. Great post! I'll definitely be doing these as well, especially the hip related ones, my hip has been so sore lately!

  2. Great job on the run, girl!

    Love the exercises you posted. I definitely need to do more lower-body strength training.

  3. sweet exercises!! i need to do more of these!

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