I love to run. In fact , at times, I want to run more than anything else.
I will never give up on something I can’t go a day without thinking about. This doesn’t mean I need to run every day, but if I’m not running I am thinking about my next run and it provides balance in a hectic world.
Webster’s definition of balance is “a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance”. I like the next definition even better: “the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling”. Physically we want to stay upright and mentally we don’t want to lose our wits. So I try to control only what is necessary and let the rest go.
So if you enjoy a variety of activities in your life you are most likely balanced. Not only with exercise, but with other play as well – whether it is quiet time reading a book, spending time with your family, having a beer (or several) with a buddy, or ordering pizza on a Friday night. Maintaining balance is more than just planning a variety of runs each week. I used to think of balance as getting in one tempo run, one leg of speed work, a long slow run, and some shorter runs just to provide enough variety to keep it fresh. However, I stepped back to consider my routine and borderline obsession and decided that balance was more about doing a bit of everything that brings me pleasure in life - and even some things I don’t enjoy as much.
It's a beautiful Monday evening after a long work day. I was going to work in a quick 4-mile run, but I decided to have a beer with a friend who surprised me with a call today.
There is plenty of time for a run tomorrow. Tonight I am balanced.
While at the gym today, I overheard a woman mention to her trainer that she wanted to avoid lifting weights because she "didn't want to get big". So I finished my third set of pull ups and wondered why this myth still persists among women. I see men in the gym every day trying desperately to bulk up. In most cases, they don't - no matter how hard they work at it. So is it realistic to think that a woman, with testosterone levels about 15-20 times lower than a man will "bulk up" if she lifts weights? Not going to happen!
Weight training for women provides an important balance to regular aerobic fitness activities such as running, cycling, or organized fitness classes. Women can only benefit from regular strength training. So, stop listening to the myths and try something different!
If you are new to weight training, invest in a personal trainer to teach you a solid routine (but remember your trainer is not your therapist - you are there to train, not talk!). A personal trainer can tailor a routine to your fitness level and goals. If you want to go at it alone, just Google "weight training routines for women" and you will find more routines than you can complete in a lifetime.
Strong is the new sexy, ladies. Weight lifting and resistance exercises are critical for building functional strength and a lean, toned shape. And, remember - you will get a cardio workout and burn a ton of calories while lifting, too.
Here are some quick reads to get you started:
I like to make each run unique. I change my route, speed and music frequently to keep my runs fresh and my body challenged. One of my favorite ways to shake up my routine is to run hills. Hill training strengthens quads, builds endurance, and helps shape glutes – especially uphill running. Hill running is easy while I am surrounded by mountains and trails in Arizona, but while in my city on Lake Superior I don't have these options so I have to get creative.
The five miles went by quickly on my morning run. Today it was the old south side of Thunder Bay. Planning on getting in some hills, I picked a new route in an old industrial area over the "Fish" bridge connecting the city to the lake. The bridge provided a nice elevation change (and a beautiful view of the still frigid lake).
Bridges provide challenges to urban runs that are naturally flat, add variety and beautiful scenery and new opportunities for building strength and endurance. Try to schedule a hill run at least once a week with hill repeats a preferred training tool. Find a hill or bridge with at least 100 feet elevation change. Run up the hill and walk down. Repeat it four to six times to start. If you are in a city with no bridges, look for some city steps to run. You will notice the results with improved speed and strength while keeping your mind and body fresh.