Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mix Tape

Some mornings the angel and devil in my head (I'll call them "Good Runner Girl" and "Bad Runner Girl") battle it out for dominance, the argument always over running vs. one more hour of sleep. "Good Runner Girl" always wins when she bribes "Bad Runner Girl" with the promise of music. "Bad Runner Girl" cannot resist, especially when she thinks about the latest mix "Good Runner Girl" made the night before: Viva La Vida (Coldplay), Run (Gnarls Barkley), Shut Up and Drive (Rhianna), Loose Control (Missy Elliot) Sexyback (Justin Timberlake), just to name the first five songs.

Running with music is a little treat I give myself when I'm lacking motivation. And, since most of my runs are with a friend or with my self, having music becomes something to look forward to. Now, just so we're clear, I am not advocating running with your music making device during a race; it's dangerous to you and those around you. But, adding some rhythmic beats to the beat of your shoes hitting the ground during a daily run can be therapeutic, fun, and can also help you move a little faster than you normally would so you burn more calories.

Personally, I'm in dire need of some new music. Nothings worse than putting together a new mix of songs you like, but, ultimately, are terrible on a run. I'll tell you right now The Shins do not making "move your body" music. List some of your favorite running songs in the comments section of this post so I can make a new running mix!

Coach Abby

Hi! I'm Coach Abby and I'm a personal trainer, a runner, a student and (now!) a Blogger :) I'm sort of new to all of this, but I'm going to give it a go and, God willing, I will not suck. This is where all that private school grammar kicks in...

I am going to be posting a weekly column called "Ask the Coach" that will address real questions that I've been asked by clients, friends, family and perfect strangers who ask for health and fitness advice from me in bars all over the tri-state area. If you have a question, feel free to leave it in the "comment" section of any of my posts and I'll do my best to get to it in a timely fashion.

Be aware that, as a personal trainer, I am not licensed prescribe any diet other than what the Food Pyramid designates. I will definitely talk about food and how it pertains to your running schedule and needs, but I cannot make individual diets for anyone. That's what licensed nutritionists and dieticians are for, my friends! Also, you should consult your physician before starting any fitness routine.

Disclaimers: done. Onto a recent question:

Q: Will lower body strength training make me bulky?

A: Short answer, no. Not unless you are consuming a serious amount of protein combined with lifting very heavy weight for very few repetitions and are also a man. Men have more testosterone than women and, thus, build muscle faster than women do. This also explains why men are generally faster and stronger than women where almost every sport is concerned.

So, if you are a female runner who is avoiding the weight training because you're frightened that you might end up looking something like Xena, Warrior Princess instead of Kara Goucher (she's had an impressive start to her marathon career!), have no fear, Coach Abby is here. Or, if you are a male runner who has legs that resemble a certain animal of the poultry variety that clucks, listen up!


Trust me, you'll thank me one day for insisting that you head to the gym once or twice a week for your 30 minute leg circuit. It goes something like this:

3 sets x 15 reps Leg Extension
3 sets x 15 reps Hamstring Curls
3 sets x 20 reps Leg Press (not squats)
3 sets x 20 reps Calf raises

Finish up with the Four-Sided Leg Lifts (a la Jane Fonda-ankle weights optional) Each of these exercises is performed for one minute straight. These are the most important, and difficult, exercises you will ever do...if you are doing them right.

-Lie flat on your back with one knee bent (that foot on the ground) and one leg straight. Lift your straight leg up and down. Switch legs.
-Lie completely straight on your side. Lift your top leg up and down, being careful to always keep your foot flexed (the opposite of point) and your toes turned forward, not up. Switch legs.
-Lying on your side, cross your top foot over and in front of your bottom leg. Lift and lower the straight bottom leg. Switch legs.
-Lie on your stomach, face down. Lift one straight leg up and down and focus on squeezing your glutes (aka. tushy, butt, rear end) and not using your lower back. Switch legs.

Weight gain aside, you may experience a change in the way that your bottoms fit. Your muscles will have more shape to them and certain areas (ie. your glutes) might be a little more lifted and so your pants may feel a little more snug up there. However, these simple exercises are the key to the overall health of your lower limbs and are not to be ignored!

Your homework is to write these exercises down and get 'em done once a week. If you don't know what they are, ask a trainer at your gym. It is their job to offer advice and show you how to use machines-at no additional cost to you! If you don't already belong to a gym, consider the YMCA's Summer Membership. Last summer is was $215/person or $245/family for Memorial Day to Labor Day. It's a great deal and comes at the perfect time for the running/marathon season.

Until next time, friends, run your best!

Coach Abby

Monday, April 27, 2009

Move Your Body

Abby Sweitzer is an awesome trainer and a wonderfully generous person who is offering FREE running classes on Tuesday mornings in Central Park. You have NO EXCUSE to sleep in. Get a pair of good running shoes and get your butt to the park!