Happy first ever National Fitness Day for the USA! While I have been an athlete my whole life, I absolutely love exercise for it’s stress management benefits as well as the social experience it can provide. It’s an added bonus that activity is crucial for chronic disease prevention and management! I studied exercise science in undergrad a bit, it was part of my graduate degree, and as you know, integrating nutrition with fitness is my favorite part of this field! I believe that fitness should be a part of our life from an early age, which is why I am a PHIT America ambassador, but if you weren’t active as a child, it doesn’t mean you can’t make it a habit now.
To celebrate, I am sharing with you:
- How I’ve found more mindful and joyful movement as an adult
- My favorite tools for injury prevention
- Why nutrition is part of your training and fitness
- My Broad Street Run recap and next fitness goals
Let’s start with mindful and joyful movement.
This concept is part of the principles of intuitive eating and can be hard for a lifelong athlete to understand and achieve. It is extremely important in our weight-loss focused culture to reel in our priorities and remember that exercise should be a FUN part of our lives! One of my favorite quotes I have seen on social media is to “exercise because you love your body not because you hate it”. For some people exercise intensity and frequency may be more than others, and that’s okay! I love the competitiveness of a race and the endorphins I release through a high intensity workout, which is why I continue to compete in road races and triathlons. That doesn’t mean you have to do that to enjoy fitness and be healthy, too though. Find what works for you! I’ve backed off a lot from following rigidly prescribed training plans for races and am finding what works best for me (see more below), but what I have realized is that group activity is something I have missed since being on a team in college. It’s brought me to absolutely love team weight training and even zumba (which I used to think wasn’t hard enough to be exercise). The past two months have been crazy busy, so when I needed stress management, sometimes a run was perfect. Other times, even though I “should” have been running to train for Broad Street, a zumba class sounded way more fun and better let my mind escape from work. Do something fun for fitness today!
Now let’s talk injury prevention.
What do we have if we push ourselves too hard or don’t complete movements in the right way? Injury and therefore lack of activity. Another consequence of the athlete mentality is just to keep on pushing. Well, when we push through discomfort to the point of pain, or we push out one more rep even though it means bad form, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. I learned this the hard way with running. Being a swimmer my whole life, aside from a bit of cross training (ex: 2 mile runs max), I had a very low impact sport. After college when running was easier to fit into my schedule and I started training for half marathons, I just picked up a random training plan I found online and went for it. I pushed myself to run 4 times per week which I now know is NOT appropriate for this body of mine. I also was training in Buffalo where the roads are flatter than flat and then ran the Fairfield half marathon back when it was basically mountains for 13.1 miles. My knee has never been the same and my gait is something I always have to be conscious of to prevent other injuries in my hip and the recurrence of a stress fracture in my foot (which as much as it sucked was thankfully not due to under-fueling / female athlete triad).
- Foam rolling – and guess what? Tomorrow just happens to be National Foam Rolling Day, too 🙂 Click here for foam rolling tips!
- The Stick. Yup, that’s all it’s called. It’s perfect for when a foam roller isn’t able to travel with you, or if you need something a tad more intense to roll out those knots!
- Chiropractic. Yeah, it’s controversial, but likely because a lot of people have gone to a crappy chiropractor that only cares about hearing your back crack. I try to go weekly and have found one who doesn’t just crack my back… actually sometimes, my back doesn’t make a crack sound at all. But, there will always be some active release therapy involved and I even have adjustments to my ankles, toes and wrists! With arthritis in my knee, bone spurs in my feet and hip problems, this is an essential part of my health-care!
- An adequate diet. Enough water, energy, carbs, protein, omega-3 and antioxidants keep inflammation down and support the immune system. Raise your fork to healthy recovery and fueling.
Nutrition is part of your training.
That is one of the first things I say when I give seminars to athletes, young or old. We need to put adequate energy in so that we have the energy for our workouts. If we’re low on energy, it doesn’t only mean a low-intensity or shorter workout, but it also means your form and motor-skill function will suffer, greatly increasing the risk of injury. If you know your diet is lacking in energy, carbs, or any of the nutrients I mentioned above, or if you’re unsure if you’re getting enough and need some guidance, my Fit Fueling course for females with Heather Caplan begins Monday! Sign up now to get started with an interactive group for 4 weeks on the 15th and email us with any questions!
As I mentioned above, I am over following rigid plans. I know that my body cannot run 4 times per week. Even still, running one (sometimes no) times per week while “training” for Broad Street put me at risk for injury on race day. While I thankfully avoided that, I saw that if I can run 8:45 minute miles for 10 miles on verrrry little training, I should probably see what I can do when training the right way for my body. I had so much fun, felt great, and was ecstatic to see my parents run their first 10 mile race ever, too. My Mom paced under 10 minute miles and my Dad barely over. They had run their longest run (9 miles) the Sunday before and didn’t taper at all. Even more motivation for me to actually train next time!
For me, I think that is going to be one long run and one short one a week though. This will work out just fine as I train for the Philly “Escape” tri in June (formerly tri-rock(. Even as I prep for the Rock n Roll Philly half marathon this fall, I may only add a 3rd “run” in per week that is a mile. I function better with less impact and more cross training to support my other muscles. Message I am trying to give? Don’t just follow a training plan you find online! Find what works for you, and maybe even find a running coach, triathlon coach, personal trainer, or strength coach to help you figure out what that is.
Having said that, I figure it’s time to let my community know I am studying for the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist exam. I’ll likely take it in early July as “studying” means I bought the book to brush up on my grad school knowledge, but haven’t had time to open it yet. I am not doing this to start training clients one on one as a large part of my job, but to stay on top of exercise science research and practice better so that I can more effectively help my clients and communicate with their coaches and trainers. Updates on that, soon!