In one week’s time I’ll be running 31 miles for my mom, a two-time breast cancer survivor, and to raise money for research at Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan. I say two-time like it’s a thing to brag about. I do believe it’s something to be proud of. One might argue, and argue successfully, that beating cancer twice is more difficult and grueling than taking on the world’s greatest endurance athletes.
I don’t often spend time thinking about my mother’s fight with the disease. I think it’s mostly because she exudes confidence day after day, which probably puts me at ease with the entire ordeal. I’m also not an outwardly emotional person, but as I write this I wonder what emotions I’ll feel as I run… and run… and run. I’ll have 6+ hours to focus on why. Why am I running? Why my mother? Why this woman or that woman?
Endurance sports are an emotional journey. The training and sacrifice necessary can bring those emotions to the surface. Whether that comes out in the form of exuberance, thankfulness, or tearful joy will become known next weekend.
Last week I took you through my strength routine with descriptions of proper form and photos to better illustrate it. This week, I’ll breakdown my running warm up routine. This ensures my calves, quads, and glutes especially are activated prior to beginning any run. That means no matter what distance or intensity I’m running, I will be going through this routine.
In addition to activating my lower body, it also helps prevent injury and delays fatigue allowing me to run longer and harder than if I had skipped it.
First things first. What does “activation” even mean? It’s a trendy topic right now in the triathlon space and for good reason. It simply means loosening up tight muscles. That’s it. But let’s be honest, “activation” sounds far cooler.
My routine is this:
Side lunge - Sink into the hip of the lunging leg, activating the glute to stand. Be sure not to drop the chest too far forward. Don't allow the knee to push forward over toes.
Lunge w/ twist - The lunge with twist is a great way to improve your balance. Another benefit is that the exercise targets the muscles used while performing activities with one leg at a time, such as running and cycling. See… we’re always thinking!
Butt kicks - quickly bring your heels up to your butt. This loosens up the calves and quads while practicing a high leg turnover.
Forward skips - Your standard skipping motion with wake up your glutes and your core for a strong running stride. The focus should be on an explosive upward motion, propelling yourself off the ground. This will activate your glutes as well as get you comfortable using the ground as your own personal springboard.
Karaoke - This one is tricky because it also involves rotating your hips. You want to drive one knee up and over the opposite leg as you side skip in one direction. Return facing the same way, leading with the alternate knee to work both sides of your body and prevent any imbalances.
High knees - This develops the hip flexors, which are the muscles that lift the knees. This lead to a longer stride for faster, more efficient running.
It’s worth the five minutes it takes to perform these movements prior to heading out for your run. I’ll get an easy mile jog in first, to get the blood flowing and the heart rate creeping up, then go through this routine. This doesn’t need to eat up your time, rather it will allow you to train more efficiently over the long term.