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My Blog

March 2015

Running for the Non-Runner: Here's how you start!

It is finally warming up outside (it’s about time!), so why not ditch the gym and get some fresh air?  Have you ever looked at a runner and thought “Oh man I wish I could do that,” OR “Oh man, I could never do that?”  If so, I have some simple tips that can get you started ASAP. I know from experience that it is possible! In high school I could not even run the mile in gym class. No presidential fitness for me… but today (33 years young) I run regularly, have participated in multiple races, and can still run a couple of miles even in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy.  (Thank you, Alice Cummings, for getting me started!)

Running is a great way to increase cardio fitness, manage weight, tone the core, and relieve stress.  Try it this spring, and by summer you will be beach ready!

Start Slow
Most people think that once they put on their running shoes they are ready to hit the road and run a 5K (or even just a mile).  That is usually not the case.  Starting with a walk/run is easier and safer for beginners.  Try jogging for 2 minutes and walking for 2 minutes.  You will decrease your chance of injury and increase your chance of sticking to it!

Find a buddy
Find a friend who is close to your fitness level.  Set a weekly date to go for a run together.  The conversation and support will make the time fly.  There are also free running groups that you can join, and some of them come with a run coach to help guide you.  If you are in the New York City area check out this list of free running meet ups - http://www.thefitgourmand.com/2011/03/free-running-groups-newyorkcity.html

Cross Train
It is important to devote a couple of workouts each week to a non-running activity, otherwise you could end up with an injury. Choose a low impact cardio activity such as swimming or cycling to give the joints a rest, or try strength training to work the muscles that you have been neglecting during your run. Yoga is also a great addition to a runner’s routine. The asanas can cut down on muscle tightness and increase your flexibility. 

Sign up for a Race
There is no better motivation than training for a race.  Keep it simple and choose a 5K walk/run if you feel uneasy about an all-out run.  Having a specific and time sensitive goal will keep you on track with your weekly routine. And the high you feel on race day is a fabulous reward! Sometimes they even give you a metal…:)

Pranayama for Children

When my daughter falls and scrapes her knee the first words out of my mouth are often “take some deep breaths.”  And Sure enough (even at 2 years old) she starts to inhale and exhale slowly and rhythmically as the tears dry up. The benefits of breath work (pranayama) are vast, and for children that’s no exception.  Taking deep breaths decreases stress and anxiety, strengthens the core muscles, and works as a natural pain reliever.  Start early when teaching your little ones pranayama, and it is sure improve their well-being…and yours! Here are some exercises you can try at home…

Feather work
Use feathers to demonstrate how breath works.  Hold the feather in your hand, and tell them to “blow” as if they were blowing on hot food or a candle.  Let them observe how the feather flies through the air. We often pair this up with an eagle pose in our toddler yoga classes! For older kids you can make it more challenging by instructing them to try to keep the feather in the air for as long as possible by only using their breath.  No hands allowed!

Belly Breath
Take a small toy or stuffed animal for a ride on your belly.  Instruct the child to lay on their back.  Place the toy on their belly.  Tell them to watch the toy move up and down as they breathe.  As they inhale the toy should move up toward the sky, and as they exhale the toy will sink toward the ground.  It may help to demonstrate the task on your own belly first.

Blow Paint
Allow your child to create some really amazing art with their breath.  Drip some watered down pain onto a piece of paper and then instruct them to blow through a straw to move the paint around the page.  Not only does it take a little diaphragmatic breath work, but it engages their artistic side as well! Happy breathing! J  

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